Clues Found in Bermuda
Almost 10 years ago, a team of geologists and zoologists published a study based on preliminary evidence that showed that sea levels were almost 70 feet higher about 400,000 years ago. This was met with a good dose of skepticism. But now this same team has published a new study based on new "unequivocal evidence" that confirms the timing and extent of the sea's rise & fall.
Read on for more details.This evidence was found in Bermuda (photo above). From the Smithsonian release:
Storrs Olson, research zoologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and geologist Paul Hearty of the Bald Head Island Conservancy discovered sedimentary and fossil evidence in the walls of a limestone quarry in Bermuda that documents a rise in sea level during an interglacial period of the Middle Pleistocene in excess of 21 meters above its current level. [...]
The nature of the sediments and fossil accumulation found by Olson and Hearty was not compatible with the deposits left by a tsunami but rather with the gradual, yet relatively rapid, increase in the volume of the planet’s ocean caused by melting ice sheets.
The more we learn about past events like this, the better we can understand them and try to apply that to modeling the future. Hopefully, we can avoid this kind of catastrophe, but if not, it will be very useful to know what can be done to mitigate its impacts.
A lot of people will see the "400,000 years ago" figure and think that it can't possibly happen again, or quickly. But extrapolating from past events must take into account what has changed since then. 6 billion humans burning over 80 million barrels of oil each day, millions of tons of coal, huge quantities of natural gas, cutting down forests, raising billions of animals that produce methane, etc.. That has to be an important variable.
Again, from the Smithsonian:
This particular interglacial period is considered by some scientists to be a suitable comparison to our current interglacial period. With future carbon dioxide levels possibly rising higher than any time in the past million years, it is important to consider the potential effects on polar ice sheets.
Photo: Ministry of Tourism & Transport, Bermuda, with permission.
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