Glacial sea level lowstands of the last 500,000 years

E.J. Rohling, M. Fenton, F.J. Jorissen, P. Bertrand, G.M. Ganssen, J.P Caulet

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademic

Abstract

Existing techniques for estimating natural fluctuations of sea level and global ice-volume from the recent geological past exploit fossil coral-reef terraces or oxygen-isotope records from benthic foraminifera. Fossil reefs reveal the magnitude of sea-level peaks (highstands) of the past million years, but fail to produce significant values for minima (lowstands) before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) about 20,000 years ago, a time at which sea level was about 120 m lower than it is today. The isotope method provides a continuous sea-level record for the past 140,000 years (ref. 5) (calibrated with fossil-reef data), but the realistic uncertainty in the sea-level estimates is around ±20 m. Here we present improved lowstand estimates- extending the record back to 500,000 years before present-using an independent method based on combining evidence of extreme high-salinity conditions in the glacial Red Sea with a simple hydraulic control model of water flow through the Strait of Bab-el-Mandab, which links the Red Sea to the open ocean. We find that the world can glaciate more intensely than during the LGM by up to an additional 20-m lowering of global sea-level. Such a 20-m difference is equivalent to a change in global ice-volume of the order of today's Greenland and West Antarctic ice-sheets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-165
JournalNature
Volume394
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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lowstand
sea level
fossil
Last Glacial Maximum
reef
ice
highstand
benthic foraminifera
open ocean
coral reef
terrace
oxygen isotope
ice sheet
strait
water flow
isotope
hydraulics
salinity

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Rohling, E. J., Fenton, M., Jorissen, F. J., Bertrand, P., Ganssen, G. M., & Caulet, J. P. (1998). Glacial sea level lowstands of the last 500,000 years. Nature, 394, 162-165. https://doi.org/10.1038/28134
Rohling, E.J. ; Fenton, M. ; Jorissen, F.J. ; Bertrand, P. ; Ganssen, G.M. ; Caulet, J.P. / Glacial sea level lowstands of the last 500,000 years. In: Nature. 1998 ; Vol. 394. pp. 162-165.
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abstract = "Existing techniques for estimating natural fluctuations of sea level and global ice-volume from the recent geological past exploit fossil coral-reef terraces or oxygen-isotope records from benthic foraminifera. Fossil reefs reveal the magnitude of sea-level peaks (highstands) of the past million years, but fail to produce significant values for minima (lowstands) before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) about 20,000 years ago, a time at which sea level was about 120 m lower than it is today. The isotope method provides a continuous sea-level record for the past 140,000 years (ref. 5) (calibrated with fossil-reef data), but the realistic uncertainty in the sea-level estimates is around ±20 m. Here we present improved lowstand estimates- extending the record back to 500,000 years before present-using an independent method based on combining evidence of extreme high-salinity conditions in the glacial Red Sea with a simple hydraulic control model of water flow through the Strait of Bab-el-Mandab, which links the Red Sea to the open ocean. We find that the world can glaciate more intensely than during the LGM by up to an additional 20-m lowering of global sea-level. Such a 20-m difference is equivalent to a change in global ice-volume of the order of today's Greenland and West Antarctic ice-sheets.",
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Rohling, EJ, Fenton, M, Jorissen, FJ, Bertrand, P, Ganssen, GM & Caulet, JP 1998, 'Glacial sea level lowstands of the last 500,000 years' Nature, vol. 394, pp. 162-165. https://doi.org/10.1038/28134

Glacial sea level lowstands of the last 500,000 years. / Rohling, E.J.; Fenton, M.; Jorissen, F.J.; Bertrand, P.; Ganssen, G.M.; Caulet, J.P.

In: Nature, Vol. 394, 1998, p. 162-165.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademic

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AB - Existing techniques for estimating natural fluctuations of sea level and global ice-volume from the recent geological past exploit fossil coral-reef terraces or oxygen-isotope records from benthic foraminifera. Fossil reefs reveal the magnitude of sea-level peaks (highstands) of the past million years, but fail to produce significant values for minima (lowstands) before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) about 20,000 years ago, a time at which sea level was about 120 m lower than it is today. The isotope method provides a continuous sea-level record for the past 140,000 years (ref. 5) (calibrated with fossil-reef data), but the realistic uncertainty in the sea-level estimates is around ±20 m. Here we present improved lowstand estimates- extending the record back to 500,000 years before present-using an independent method based on combining evidence of extreme high-salinity conditions in the glacial Red Sea with a simple hydraulic control model of water flow through the Strait of Bab-el-Mandab, which links the Red Sea to the open ocean. We find that the world can glaciate more intensely than during the LGM by up to an additional 20-m lowering of global sea-level. Such a 20-m difference is equivalent to a change in global ice-volume of the order of today's Greenland and West Antarctic ice-sheets.

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Rohling EJ, Fenton M, Jorissen FJ, Bertrand P, Ganssen GM, Caulet JP. Glacial sea level lowstands of the last 500,000 years. Nature. 1998;394:162-165. https://doi.org/10.1038/28134