Faculty Publication: Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Don Barber

September 8, 2021

Common Era Sea-Level Budgets Along the US Atlantic Coast

Authors: Walker, Jennifer S.; Kopp, Robert E.; Shaw, Timothy A.; Cahill, Niamh; Khan, Nicole S.; Barber, Donald C.; Ashe, Erica L.; Brain, Matthew J.; Clear, Jennifer L.; Corbett, D. Reide; Horton, Benjamin P.

Source: Nature Communications, Volume: 12, Issue: 1, Article Number: 1841, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22079-2, March 2021

Type of Publication: Journal Article

Abstract: Sea-level budgets account for the contributions of processes driving sea-level change, but are predominantly focused on global-mean sea level and limited to the 20th and 21st centuries. Here we estimate site-specific sea-level budgets along the U.S. Atlantic coast during the Common Era (0-2000 CE) by separating relative sea-level (RSL) records into process-related signals on different spatial scales. Regional-scale, temporally linear processes driven by glacial isostatic adjustment dominate RSL change and exhibit a spatial gradient, with fastest rates of rise in southern New Jersey (1.6 0.02 mm yr(-1)). Regional and local, temporally non-linear processes, such as ocean/atmosphere dynamics and groundwater withdrawal, contributed between -0.3 and 0.4 mm yr(-1) over centennial timescales. The most significant change in the budgets is the increasing influence of the common global signal due to ice melt and thermal expansion since 1800 CE, which became a dominant contributor to RSL with a 20th century rate of 1.3 +/- 0.1 mm yr(-1).Sea-level rise is an important part of climate change, but most sea-level budgets are global and cannot capture important regional changes. Here the authors estimate sea-level budgets along the U.S. Atlantic coast, finding a faster rate of rise during the 20th century than any time in the past 2000 years.

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