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article imageClimate change: Sea levels rising at unprecedented rate

By Tim Sandle     Dec 27, 2019 in Environment
New research finds evidence of sea-level variability in the central Indian Ocean, where sea levels are reported to be rising at an unprecedented rate.
The investigation into sea-level variability in the central Indian Ocean comes from Simon Fraser University. Projecting future sea levels is challenging, due to the complexity of many aspects of the climate system. . However, the new research was able to provide details about sea levels in the past and uses this to draw the conclusion that sea levels in the central Indian Ocean have risen by close to a meter in the last two centuries.
According to lead researcher, Professor Paul Kench: "We know that certain types of fossil corals act as important recorders of past sea levels. By measuring the ages and the depths of these fossil corals, we are identifying that there have been periods several hundred years ago that the sea level has been much lower than we thought in parts of the Indian Ocean."
When sea levels rise this can lead to devastating effects on coastal habitats thorough destructive erosion, wetland flooding, aquifer and agricultural soil contamination with salt. This impacts human communities and leads to a loss of habitat for fish, birds, and plants.
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By understanding where sea levels have been historically, and knowing what the environmental impact is when they rise, provides new insights into how coral reefs systems and islands will respond to the changes in sea levels in the future and what measures can be taken to protect them.
Furthermore, an analysis of sea levels provides insights into the risks to coastal cities and communities. Here data suggests suggests that the current trajectory means that sea levels in the Indian Ocean will have risen to their highest level ever in recorded history.
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The research has been reported to the journal Nature Geoscience. The research paper is tilted "Climate-forced sea-level lowstands in the Indian Ocean during the last two millennia."
More about Sea levels, Climate change, global heating
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