Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

North Carolina Sea Levels Rising Three Times Faster Than In Previous 500 Years, Study Finds

Date:
October 29, 2009
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
An international team of environmental scientists has shown that sea-level rise in North Carolina is accelerating, a jump that appears to have occurred during a time of industrial change.

Beach at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Credit: iStockphoto

An international team of environmental scientists led by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that sea-level rise, at least in North Carolina, is accelerating. Researchers found 20th-century sea-level rise to be three times higher than the rate of sea-level rise during the last 500 years. In addition, this jump appears to occur between 1879 and 1915, a time of industrial change that may provide a direct link to human-induced climate change.

The results appear in the current issue of the journal Geology.

The rate of relative sea-level rise, or RSLR, during the 20th century was 3 to 3.3 millimeters per year, higher than the usual rate of one per year. Furthermore, the acceleration appears consistent with other studies from the Atlantic coast, though the magnitude of the acceleration in North Carolina is larger than at sites farther north along the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic coast and may be indicative of a latitudinal trend related to the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Understanding the timing and magnitude of this possible acceleration in the rate of RSLR is critical for testing models of global climate change and for providing a context for 21st-century predictions.

"Tide gauge records are largely inadequate for accurately recognizing the onset of any acceleration of relative sea-level rise occurring before the 18th century, mainly because too few records exist as a comparison," Andrew Kemp, the paper's lead author, said. "Accurate estimates of sea-level rise in the pre-satellite era are needed to provide an appropriate context for 21st-century projections and to validate geophysical and climate models."

The research team studied two North Carolina salt marshes that form continuous accumulations of organic sediment, a natural archive that provides scientists with an accurate way to reconstruct relative sea levels using radiometric isotopes and stratigraphic age markers. The research provided a record of relative sea-level change since the year 1500 at the Sand Point and Tump Point salt marshes in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system of North Carolina. The two marshes provided an ideal setting for producing high-resolution records because thick sequences of high marsh sediment are present and the estuarine system is microtidal, which reduces the vertical uncertainty of aleosea-level estimates. The study provides for the first time replicated sea-level reconstructions from two nearby sites.

In addition, comparison with 20th-century tide-gauge records validates the use of this approach and suggests that salt-marsh records with decadal and decimeter resolution can supplement tide-gauge records by extending record length and compensating for the strong spatial bias in the global distribution of longer instrumental records.

The study was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Ocean Program, North Carolina Coastal Geology Cooperative Program, U.S. Geological Survey and National Science Foundation.

The study was conducted by Kemp and Benjamin P. Horton of the Sea-Level Research Laboratory at Penn, Stephen J. Culver and D. Reide Corbett of the Department of Geological Sciences at East Carolina University, Orson van de Plassche of Vrije Universiteit, W. Roland Gehrels of the University of Plymouth, Bruce C. Douglas of Florida International University and Andrew C. Parnell of University College Dublin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "North Carolina Sea Levels Rising Three Times Faster Than In Previous 500 Years, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028192617.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2009, October 29). North Carolina Sea Levels Rising Three Times Faster Than In Previous 500 Years, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028192617.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "North Carolina Sea Levels Rising Three Times Faster Than In Previous 500 Years, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028192617.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Iceland has lowered its aviation alert on its largest volcano after a fresh eruption on a nearby lava field prompted authorities to enforce a flight ban for several hours. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) A lightning strike injured three people on a New York City beach on Sunday. The storms also delayed flights and interrupted play at the US Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) A study of almost 20 years' worth of satellite images shows Antarctic sea levels are on the rise as ice shelves continue to melt. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins