Letter abstract


Nature Geoscience 2, 571 - 575 (2009)
Published online: 26 July 2009 | Retracted online: 21 February 2010 | doi:10.1038/ngeo587

There is a Retraction (March 2010) associated with this Letter.

Subject Categories: Climate science | Palaeoclimate and palaeoceanography

Constraints on future sea-level rise from past sea-level change

Mark Siddall1,4, Thomas F. Stocker2 & Peter U. Clark3

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It is difficult to project sea-level rise in response to warming climates by the end of the century, especially because the response of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to warming is not well understood1. However, sea-level fluctuations in response to changing climate have been reconstructed for the past 22,000years from fossil data, a period that covers the transition from the Last Glacial Maximum to the warm Holocene interglacial period. Here we present a simple model of the integrated sea-level response to temperature change that implicitly includes contributions from the thermal expansion and the reduction of continental ice. Our model explains much of the centennial-scale variability observed over the past 22,000years, and estimates 4–24cm of sea-level rise during the twentieth century, in agreement with the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change1 (IPCC). In response to the minimum (1.1°C) and maximum (6.4°C) warming projected for AD2100 by the IPCC models, our model predicts 7 and 82cm of sea-level rise by the end of the twenty-first century, respectively. The range of sea-level rise is slightly larger than the estimates from the IPCC models of 18–76cm, but is sufficiently similar to increase confidence in the projections.

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  1. Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, 61 Route 9W, PO Box 1000, Palisades, New York 10964-8000, USA
  2. Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Bern, CH 3012, Switzerland
  3. Department of Geosciences, 104 Wilkinson Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-5506, USA
  4. Present address: Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queen’s Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, UK

Correspondence to: Mark Siddall1,4 e-mail: mark.siddall@bristol.ac.uk

* This Letter has been retracted. See the full retraction notice for details.

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