Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Seas Used To Be 70 Feet Higher - Believe It or Not!

Photo: Ministry of Tourism & Transport, Bermuda, with permission.

Nearly a decade ago, a study was published by a team of geologists and zoologists - based on their preliminary findings - that showed that nearly 400,000 years ago the sea levels were almost 70 feet higher than they are today. This was met with very polite skepticism. However, this same team has published a new study claiming “unequivocal evidence” that confirms their previous theories.

Bermuda (photo above) was the site of newly-discovered “unequivocal evidence”.

From the Smithsonian release:

Storrs Olson, research zoologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and geologist Paul Hearty of the Bald Head Island Conservancy discovered sedimentary and fossil evidence in the walls of a limestone quarry in Bermuda that documents a rise in sea level during an interglacial period of the Middle Pleistocene in excess of 21 meters above its current level. [...]

The nature of the sediments and fossil accumulation found by Olson and Hearty was not compatible with the deposits left by a tsunami but rather with the gradual, yet relatively rapid, increase in the volume of the planet’s ocean caused by melting ice sheets.

Unfortunately, a lot of people will see the "400,000 years ago" and think that either it can't happen again; or, if it can, it can’t happen quickly. What is not taken into account is what has changed since then. We have managed to release so many pollutants into our atmosphere that our world is heating up at a rate unprecedented in all of human history. It only makes sense that if the planet is heating up a faster rate than ever before then maybe other processes on earth are speeding up as well.

Again, from the Smithsonian:

This particular interglacial period is considered by some scientists to be a suitable comparison to our current interglacial period. With future carbon dioxide levels possibly rising higher than any time in the past million years, it is important to consider the potential effects on polar ice sheets.

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