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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Antony Long

Barlow, N.L.M., Long, A.J., Saher, M.H., Gehrels, W.R., Garnett, M.H. & Scaife, R.G. (2014). Salt-marsh reconstructions of relative sea-level change in the North Atlantic during the last 2000 years. Quaternary Science Reviews 99: 1-16.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Sea-level changes record changes in the mass balance of ice sheets and mountain glaciers, as well as dynamic ocean-atmosphere processes. Unravelling the contribution of each of these mechanisms on late Holocene timescales ideally requires observations from a number of sites on several coasts within one or more oceans. We present the first 2000 year-long continuous salt marsh-based reconstructions of relative sea-level (RSL) change from the eastern North Atlantic and uniquely from a slowly uplifting coastline. We develop three RSL histories from two sites in north west Scotland to test for regional changes in sea-level tendency (a positive tendency indicating an increase in the proximity of marine conditions and a negative tendency the reverse), whilst at the same time highlighting methodological issues, including the problems of dataset noise when applying transfer functions to fossil salt-marsh sequences. The records show that RSL has been stable (±0.4 m) during the last two millennia, and that the regional sea-level tendency has been negative throughout most of the record lengths. A recent switch in the biostratigraphy of all three records, indicating a regional positive tendency, means we cannot reject the hypothesis of a 20th century sea-level acceleration occurring in north west Scotland that must have exceeded the rate of background RSL fall (-0.4 mm yr-1), but this signal appears muted and later than recorded from the western North Atlantic.

Notes

The Scottish RSL data can be downloaded from:
http://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/profiles/4681/RSL_data_Barlow_et_al_2014_QSR.xlsx