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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Centennial-scale relationship of sea-level variability with global temperature & CO2 concentrations

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Global ice volume is a key indicator of change in the global climate state and - through its control on sea level - it is also a major concern to society.

Antarctic temperature and global sea level closely coupled over the past five glacial cycles. Nature Geoscience, 2, 500-504
Rohling et al., 2009

Before considering the future, a better understanding is needed of the natural (pre-anthropogenic) involvement of ice-sheet processes in rapid climate change (centennial time resolution), with a focus on the relationships between CO2 concentrations, temperature and ice-volume/sea-level changes.

To characterise those relationships, the present project will exploit our recently developed capacity to develop stratigraphically continuous records of sea-level change in time-steps of a century, covering an entire glacial cycle, for comparison with ice-core records of temperature and CO2 concentrations. We will thus address two fundamental questions:

  • What exactly was the fundamental nature of the pre-anthropogenic relationship between global ice volume/sea level, temperature and CO2 concentrations on the critical centennial timescales?
  • How rapidly can the 'system' adapt to a change in forcing (i.e. to any given disequilibrium between climate forcing and sea level)? The project's answers on relevant, centennial, timescales will provide natural context to the on-going debate on future sea-level rise.



Prof. Eelco Rohling (Principal Investigator)
Dr Katharine Grant
Miss Leah Cliff
Dr Martin Medina-Elizalde
Dr Fiona Hibbert

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