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Study Finds North Carolina Sea Levels Rising Three Times Faster Than in Previous 500 Years

An international team of environmental scientists led by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that sea-level rise, at least in North Carolina, is accelerating. Researchers found 20th-century sea-level rise to be three times higher than the rate of sea-level rise during the last 500 years. In addition, this jump appears to occur between 1879 and 1915, a time of industrial change that may provide a direct link to human-induced climate change.

The results appear in the current issue of the journal Geology.

The rate of relative sea-level rise, or RSLR, during the 20th century was 3 to 3.3 millimeters per year, higher than the usual rate of one per year. Furthermore, the acceleration appears consistent with other studies from the Atlantic coast, though the magnitude of the acceleration in North Carolina is larger than at sites farther north along the US and Canadian Atlantic coast and may be indicative of a latitudinal trend related to the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Understanding the timing and magnitude of this possible acceleration in the rate of RSLR is critical for testing models of global climate change and for providing a context for 21st-century predictions.

The research team studied two North Carolina salt marshes that form continuous accumulations of organic sediment, a natural archive that provides scientists with an accurate way to reconstruct relative sea levels using radiometric isotopes and stratigraphic age markers. The research provided a record of relative sea-level change since the year 1500 at the Sand Point and Tump Point salt marshes in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system of North Carolina. The two marshes provided an ideal setting for producing high-resolution records because thick sequences of high marsh sediment are present and the estuarine system is microtidal, which reduces the vertical uncertainty of paleosea-level estimates. The study provides for the first time replicated sea-level reconstructions from two nearby sites.

In addition, comparison with 20th-century tide-gauge records validates the use of this approach and suggests that salt-marsh records with decadal and decimeter resolution can supplement tide-gauge records by extending record length and compensating for the strong spatial bias in the global distribution of longer instrumental records.

The study was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Ocean Program, North Carolina Coastal Geology Cooperative Program, US Geological Survey and National Science Foundation.

The study was conducted by Kemp and Benjamin P. Horton of the Sea-Level Research Laboratory at Penn, Stephen J. Culver and D. Reide Corbett of the Department of Geological Sciences at East Carolina University, Orson van de Plassche of Vrije Universiteit, W. Roland Gehrels of the University of Plymouth, Bruce C. Douglas of Florida International University and Andrew C. Parnell of University College Dublin.


  • Andrew C. Kemp, Benjamin P. Horton, Stephen J. Culver, D. Reide Corbett, Orson van de Plassche, W. Roland Gehrels, Bruce C. Douglas, and Andrew C. Parnell (2009) Timing and magnitude of recent accelerated sea-level rise (North Carolina, United States). Geology v. 37, p. 1035-1038, doi: 10.1130/G30352A.1



Not according to the University of Colorado Sea Level data server:



No,"sulleny -
"a hateful black hole"

The data analysis you prefer comes from a denialist website.
A quick look on some of their pages comes up with this writing and commentry style.
Hey it's a free world.

"Guest post by Lucy Skywalker"
Steven Mosher

:"You can help in this project by signing up and doing site survey in your area. It’s free, and open to anyone with basic observational skills, a digital camera, GPS, and ability to follow written directions."

"Here is the most biazzare set of numbers I have encounted in the Quatsino temperature records that I have checked to date. For 1924, the reported Tmin for Sept 23, 24 and 25 are -0.6, -0.6, and -0.6, respectively. Yikes! The Sign of the Beast! How did this joke get past the data quality checker in Ottawa? This could only happen if the data were not checked for quality. Or the observer was a Tory and the checker was a Liberal, i.e., a Satanist to the folks in BC, and was be sent a message."

Etc , Excuse me sulleny I need to vomit.



Thanks for the warning. The post you quote appears to be with tongue firmly in cheek - especially about BC.

But what about the science? U Colorado Sea Level still disputes this U Penn claim. Looks like a political football.


sulley you're a pathetic little sh*t

The University of Colorado sez no such thing. It's merrily a graph of sea level from 1993 to 2009.
You couldn't even gain admittance to the University of Colorado.


Ah, well... "merrily" we roll along eh dursun?


Looking at the watts-haven't-a-clue site, it's garbage.

WU site says it uses data but comes to a total conclusion that reaffirms it's own calcs but it isn't even the same as UoC.

WU provides you with a trend line. How nice and misleading. It isn't a least squares or any other derivable trend line that I can figure out.

In digital signal analysis, the obvious problem that sticks out is the tidal values. The general data is gathered every 10 days, which means that the tidal values are aliased into the general data, making it more difficult to filter out. Any idea of WU doing it. Or even thinking of it. No. Any sign of adjusting values for temporary conditions? Another no. Just sitting on his brains and punching buttons like a monkey as far as I can tell.

Let's see. WU, a half competent blog, with no scientific standing, trying to create an arguement in less than a day with incomplete information, whose methodology is more than questionable.

This university study that took years by Phd's that underwent peer review and was accepted by publication through the peer process.

Who would try to equate the lame WU blog to the level that it could even question the work done by this study. Lame. Lame. Lame.


"Who would try to equate the lame WU blog to the level that it could even question the work done by this study."

Again, aym chagrined his intellectual PR pals don't get no respect. Re-read the "Boy Who Cried Wolf."

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