Drivers of sea-level change – using relative sea level records from the North and South Atlantic to fingerprint sources of mid-Holocene ice melt

Friday, 18 December 2015: 17:30
2012 (Moscone West)
Ben Horton, Rutgers University New Brunswick, Marine and Coastal Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, United States, Nicole Khan, Rutgers University, Marine and Coastal Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, United States, Erica Ashe, Rutgers University New Brunswick, New Brunswick, NJ, United States, Robert E Kopp, Rutgers University New Brunswick, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, United States, Antony J Long, University of Durham, Durham, DH1, United Kingdom and W Roland Gehrels, University of York, York, YO10, United Kingdom
Many factors give rise to relative sea-level (RSL) changes that are far from globally uniform. For example, spatially variable sea-level responses arise because of the exchange of mass between ice sheets and oceans. Gravitational, flexural, and rotational processes generate a distinct spatial pattern – or “fingerprint” - of sea-level change associated with each shrinking land ice mass. As a land ice mass shrinks, sea-level rise is greater in areas geographically distal to the ice mass than in areas proximal to it, in large part because the gravitational attraction between the ice mass and the ocean is reduced. Thus, the U.S. mid-Atlantic coastline experiences about 50% of the global average sea-level-rise due to Greenland Ice Sheet melt, but about 120% of the global average due to West Antarctic Ice Sheet melt.   Separating the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet contributions during the past 7,000 years requires analysis of sea-level changes from sites in the northern and southern hemisphere. Accordingly we present sea-level records within a hierarchical statistical modeling to: (1) quantify rates of change; (2) compare rates of change among sites, including full quantification of the uncertainty in their differences; and (3) test hypotheses about the sources of meltwater through their sea-level fingerprints. Preliminary analysis of three sites within our North and South Atlantic sea-level database indicates sea-level gradient in the rate of RSL rise during the mid Holocene between 6000 and 4000 years BP; a greater change in rate is found in Brazil than St Croix than New Jersey, consistent with an increase and then decrease in Greenland Ice Sheet mass.