Holocene Sea Level Trends

by P. Homewood, August 22, 2018 in NotaLotofPeopleKnowThat

There seems to be a general acceptance about overall sea level trends during the Holocene.

There was naturally a very rapid rise in sea levels at the end of the ice age, until 6000 years ago, since when the rise has been much more gradual. Some research puts the rate of rise in the last 2000 years at 0.07mm/yr, and this reflects the fact that ice caps left over from the ice age are still melting, rather than that the world is warmer than before.

However, the impression is often given that, until the 20thC, this rate of rise has been pretty steady. This is despite the fact some of the authors of the above studies have warned of the existence of significant short-term fluctuations in sea level such that the sea level curve might oscillate up and down about this ~1 kyr mean state. [The above graph is based around 1000 year averages].


HH Lamb looked carefully at many expert studies in his day, and wrote about the very significant fluctuations they found. The following excerpts come from “Climate, History and the Modern World”:

1) The most rapid phases [of sea level rise] were between 8000 and 5000 BC, and that the rise of general water level was effectively over by about 2000 BC, when it may have stood a metre or two higher than today.

2) …