Advertisement

Climatic Change

, 107:17 | Cite as

Sea level history of the northern Gulf of Mexico coast and sea level rise scenarios for the near future

  • Joseph F. Donoghue
Article

Abstract

The sea level history of the northern Gulf of Mexico during recent geologic time has closely followed global eustatic sea level change. Regional effects due to tectonics and glacio-isostasy have been minimal. Over the past several million years the northern Gulf coast, like most stable coastal regions of the globe, has experienced major swings of sea level below and above present level, accompanied by major shifts in shoreline position. During advances of the northern hemisphere ice sheets, sea level dropped by more than 100 m, extending the shoreline in places more than 100 km onto the shelf. For much of the period since the last glacial maximum (LGM), 20,000 years ago, the region has seen rates of sea level rise far in excess of those experienced during the period represented by long-term tide gauges. The regional tide gauge record reveals that sea level has been rising at about 2 mm/year for the past century, while the average rate of rise since the LGM has been 6 mm/year, with some periods of abrupt rise exceeding 40 mm/year. During times of abrupt rise, Gulf of Mexico shorelines were drowned in place and overstepped. The relative stability of modern coastal systems is due primarily to stabilization of sea level approximately 6,000 years ago, resulting in the slow rates of rise experienced during historic time. Recent model projections of sea level rise over the next century and beyond may move northern Gulf coastal environments into a new equilibrium regime, more similar to that experienced during the deglaciation than that which has existed during historic time.

Keywords

Last Glacial Maximum Tide Gauge Northern Gulf Coast 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Balsillie JH, Donoghue JF (2004) High resolution sea level history for the Gulf of Mexico since the last glacial maximum. Florida Geological Survey Report of Investigations No. 103Google Scholar
  2. Bard E, Hamelin B, Fairbanks RG (1990) U-Th ages obtained by mass spectrometry in corals from Barbados sea level during the past 130,000 years. Nature 346:456–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bard E, Hamelin B, Arnol, M, Montaggioni L, Cabioch G, Faure G, Rougerie F (1996) Deglacial sea level record from Tahiti corals with the timing of global meltwater discharge. Nature 382:241–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blanchon P, Shaw J (1995) Reef drowning during the last deglaciation; evidence for catastrophic sea level rise and ice-sheet collapse. Geology 23(1):4–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Church JA, White NJ (2006) A 20th century acceleration in global sea level rise. Geophys Res Lett 33:L01602 doi: 10.1029/2005GL024826 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Church J, Gregory JM, Huybrecht P, Kuhn M, Lambeck K, Nhuan MT, Qin D, Woodworth PL (2001) Changes in sea level. In: Houghton J et al (eds) Climate change: the scientific basis: contribution of working group I to the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, pp 639–694Google Scholar
  7. Church JA, White NJ, Aarup T, Wilson WS, Woodworth PL, Domingues CM, Hunter JR, Lambeck K (2008) Understanding global sea levels. past, present and future. Sustain Sci 3:9–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davis RA (1997) Regional coastal morphodynamics along the United States Gulf of Mexico: J Coast Res 13:595–604Google Scholar
  9. Dolan R, Anders F, Kimball S (1985) Coastal Erosion and Accretion (map). USGS National Atlas of the United States, US Geological Survey, Department of the Interior, Reston, VA, 1 sheet.Google Scholar
  10. Donoghue JF (1993) Late Wisconsinan and Holocene depositional history, northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Mar Geol 112:185–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Douglas B (2001) Sea level change in the era of recording tide gauges. In: Douglas B, Kearney M, Leatherman S (eds) Sea level rise: history and consequences. International geophysics series, vol 75. Academic, London, pp 37–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dyke AS, Prest VK (1987) Late Wisconsinan and Holocene history of the Laurentide ice sheet. Géogr. Phys. Quat. 41:237–263Google Scholar
  13. Fairbanks RG (1989) A 17,000-year glacio-eustatic sea level record. Influence of glacial melting rates on the Younger Dryas event and deep ocean circulation. Nature 342:637–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Flower BP, Hastings DW, Hill HW, Quinn TM (2004) Phasing of deglacial warming and Laurentide Ice Sheet meltwater in the Gulf of Mexico. Geology 32:597–600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gardner JV, Dartnell P, Mayer LA, Hughes Clarke JE, Calder BR, Duffy G (2005) Shelf-edge deltas and drowned barrier-island complexes on the northwest Florida outer continental shelf. Geomorphology 64(3–4):133–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gregory JM, Huybrechts P, Raper SC (2004) Climatology: threatened loss of the Greenland ice-sheet. Nature 428:616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grinsted A, Moore JC, Jevrejeva S (2010) Reconstructing sea level from paleo and projected temperatures 200 to 2100 AD. Clim Dyn 34:4. doi: 101007/s00382-008-0507-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hanebuth T, Stattegger K, Grootes PM (2000) Rapid flooding of the Sunda shelf. A late-glacial sea level record. Science 288:033–1035CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haq B, Hardenbol J, Vail P (1987) Chronology of fluctuating sea levels since the Triassic. Science 235:1156–1167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Holgate S, Woodworth P (2004) Evidence for enhanced coastal sea level rise during the 1990s. Geophys Res Lett 31:L07305. doi: 101029/2004GL019626 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Horton R, Herweijer C, Rosenzweig C, Liu J, Gornitz V, Ruane AC (2008) Sea level rise projections for current generation CGCMs based on the semi-empirical method. Geophys Res Lett 35:L02715. doi: 101029/2007GL032486 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. IPCC (2001) Climate change 2001. In: Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DL, Noguer M, van der Linden PJ, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CA (eds) The scientific basis: contribution of working group I to the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  23. IPCC (2007a) Climate change 2007. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Avery KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) The physical science basis: contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  24. IPCC (2007b) Summary for policymakers. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the Fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 7–22Google Scholar
  25. Jarrett BD, Hine AC, Halley RB, Naar DF, Locker SD, Neumann AC, Twichell D, Hu C, Donahue BT, Jaap WC, Palandro D, Ciembronowicz K (2005) Strange bedfellows—a deep-water hermatypic coral reef superimposed on a drowned barrier island; southern Pulley Ridge, SW Florida platform margin. Mar Geol 214(4):295–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jevrejeva S, Grinsted A, Moore JC, Holgate S (2006) Nonlinear trends and multiyear cycles in sea level records. J Geophys Res 111. doi: 10.1029/2005JC003229
  27. Jeverjeva S, Moore JC, Grinsted A (2010) How will sea level respond to changes in natural and anthropogenic forcings by 2100? Geophys Res Lett 37:L07703. doi: 101029/2010GL042947 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jordan G (1952) Reef formation in the Gulf of Mexico off Apalachicola Bay, Florida. Geol Soc Amer Bull 63:741–744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kopp RE, Simons FJ, Mitrovica JX, Maloof AC, Oppenheimer M (2009) Probabilistic assessment of sea level during the last interglacial stage. Nature 462:863–867. doi: 101038/nature08686 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Leuliette EW, Nerem, RS, Mitchum GT (2004) Calibration of TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason altimeter data to construct a continuous record of mean sea level change. Mar Geod 27(1–2):79–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Locker SD, Hine AC, Tedesco LP, Shinn EA (1996) Magnitude and timing of episodic sea level rise during the last deglaciation. Geology 24:827–830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McCarthy JJ (2009) Reflections on. our planet and its life, origins, and futures. Science 326:1646–1655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McCulloch MT, Esat T (2000) The coral record of last interglacial sea levels and sea surface temperatures. Chem Geol 169:107–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Meehl GA, Stocker TF, Collins WD, Friedlingstein P, Gaye AT, Gregory JM, Kitoh A, Knutti R, Murphy JM, Noda A, Raper, SCB, Watterson IG, Weaver AJ, Zhao Z-C (2007) Global climate projections. In: Solomon SQ, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  35. Miller KG, Kominz MA, Browning JV, Wright JD, Mountain GS, Katz ME, Sugarman PJ, Cramer BS, Christie-Blic N, Pekar SF (2005) The Phanerozoic record of global sea level change. Science 310:1293–1298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. NOAA (2010a) Sea Levels Online, NOAA Tides and Currents webpage. http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends.shtml
  37. NOAA (2010b) Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry website (NOAA/NESDIS/STAR/SOCD). http://ibis.grdl.noaa.gov/SAT/SeaLevelRise/LSA_SLR_timeseriesphp
  38. Overpeck JT, Otto-Bliesner BL, Miller GH, Muhs DR, Alley RB, Kiehl JT (2006) Paleoclimatic evidence for future ice-sheet instability and rapid sea level rise. Science 311:1747–1750CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Peltier WR (2001) Global glacial isostatic adjustment and modern instrumental records of relative sea level history. In: Douglas, BC, Kearney MS, Leatherman SP (eds) Sea level rise. History and consequences, vol 75. Internatl Geophys Series. Academic, London, pp 65–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Peltier WR, Fairbanks RG (2006) Global glacial ice volume and Last Glacial Maximum duration from an extended Barbados sea level record. Quat Sci Rev 25:3322–3337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Peltier WR, Tushingham A (1989) Global sea level rise and the Greenhouse effect: might they be connected. Science 244:806–810CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pfeffer WT, Harper JT, O’Neel S (2008) Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21st-century sea level rise. Science 321:1340–1343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rahmstorf S (2007) A semi-empirical approach to predicting future sea level rise. Science 315:368–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rahmstorf S, Cazenave A, Church JA, Hansen JE, Keelin, RF, Parker DE, Somerville RCJ (2007) Recent climate observations compared to projections. Science 316:709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rohling EJ, Grant K, Bolshaw M, Roberts AP, Siddall M, Hemleben C, Kucera M (2009) Antarctic temperature and global sea level closely coupled over the past five glacial cycles. Nature Geoscience 2:500–504. doi: 101038/ngeo557 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rutherford S, D’Hondt S (2000) Early onset and tropical forcing of 100,000-year Pleistocene glacial cycles. Nature 408:72–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sager WW, Schroeder WW, Laswell JS, Davis KS, Rezak R, Gittings SR (1992) Mississippi–Alabama outer continental shelf topographic features formed during the late Pleistocene–Holocene transgression. Geo Mar Lett 12:41–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Siddall M, Rohling EJ, Almogi-Labin A, Hemleben C, Meischner D, Schmelzer I, Smee DA (2003) Sea level fluctuations during the last glacial cycle. Nature 423:853–858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Siddall M, Stocker TF, Clark PU (2009) Constraints on future sea level rise from past sea level change. Nature Geoscience 2:571–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Solomon S, Plattner GK, Knutti R, Friedlingstein P (2009) Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106:1704–1709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stanley DJ (1995) A global sea level curve for the late quaternary the impossible dream? Mar Geol 125:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stanley DJ, Warne AG (1994) Worldwide initiation of Holocene marine deltas by deceleration of sea level rise. Science 265:228–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stanton EA, Ackerman F (2007) Florida and climate change: the costs of inaction. Tufts University Global Development and Environment Institute, MedfordGoogle Scholar
  54. Vermeer M, Rahmstorf S (2009) Global sea level linked to global temperature. Proc Natl Acad Sci, India 106:51:21527–21532. doi: 101073/pnas0907765106 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Weiss J, Overpeck J (2003) Maps of areas susceptible to sea level rise. Environmental Studies Laboratory, Dept Geosciences, Univ Arizona. http://www.geo.arizona.edu/dgesl/research/other/climate_change_and_sea_level/sea_level_rise/sea_level_rise.htm
  56. Zachos J, Pagani M, Sloan L, Thomas E, Billup K (2001) Trends, rhythms, and aberrations in global climate 65 Ma to present. Science 292:686–693CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations