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Study: Historic Rise to Sea Levels in Pacific Ocean Linked to Climate Change

Drastic changes are 'important climate change signals,' researchers conclude

Common Dreams staff

A satellite image of the Pacific Ocean (Image: Earthmap)

A rapid rise in sea levels in Southwest Pacific Ocean has ocurred, according to a new study, and researchers say human-made climate change is likely the cause for significant rises in the 20th century. Scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia, partnered with other British universities, measured sea levels going back 6,000 years and spotted significant increases in the 19th and 20th centuries. Of note is that a major spike in the late 20th century, starting around 1990, is likely linked to human-created climate change, researchers said.

"The 1990s peak is most likely indicative of human-induced climate change," said Patrick Moss, a scientist from the University of Queensland. "Any drastic changes from the norm, which persist for several decades and over a wide area, represent important climate signals."

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United Press International: Historic sea level rise in Pacific studied

Sea levels in the Southwest Pacific have risen dramatically since the late 19th century, a study by Australian and British researchers shows.

Scientists at the University of Queensland, with colleagues in British universities, said sea levels in Tasmania remained relatively stable for much of the past 6,000 years but around 1880 they started rising drastically, increasing almost 8 inches in the last century.

Between 1900 and 1950, relative sea levels rose at an average rate of 0.16 inches per year, Queensland researcher Patrick Moss said in a university release.

The highest rates of sea level rise occurred in the 1910s with a second peak in the 1990s, he reported.


"The 1990s peak is most likely indicative of human-induced climate change."


"Any drastic changes from the norm, which persist for several decades and over a wide area, represent important climate signals," Moss said.

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Agence-France Presse: Rising Pacific seas linked to climate change: study

Sea levels in the southwest Pacific started rising drastically in the 1880s, with a notable peak in the 1990s thought to be linked to human-induced climate change, according to a new study.

The research, which examined sediment core samples taken from salt marshes in southern Australia's Tasmania island, used geochemistry to establish a chronology of sea level changes over the past 200 years.

Patrick Moss, from the University of Queensland, said major environmental events which impacted the ocean such as the introduction of unleaded petrol and nuclear tests, showed up in the samples and were used for dating.

The chronology revealed a major jump in sea levels around 1880 after 6,000 years of relative stability, Moss said, with peaks in the 1910s and 1990s -- the latter of which appeared to be linked to human activity.

"Overall, over the past 200 years or so, sea levels have increased by about 20 centimetres (eight inches)," Moss told AFP on Thursday.

The first peak coincided with an end to what was known as the Little Ice Age, "a 500 or so year period of slightly cooler conditions that ended roughly around 1850" and saw glaciers around the world retreat.

Sea levels in the southwest Pacific rose at four times the average 20th-century rate between 1900 and 1950, according to the study.

That was followed by a period of "relative quiet" broken by a second spike in 1990 which saw sea levels rise at a rate that defied projections.

"The natural climatic factors seem to be not as apparent and anthropogenic climate change seems to be the key possible culprit," said Moss.

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