PerspectiveOcean Science

Coral Clues to Rapid Sea-Level Change

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Science  15 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5720, pp. 361-362
DOI: 10.1126/science.1110550

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Earth's climate can change substantially on time scales of 1000 years or so, but given the time it takes for an ice sheet to grow or melt, it has been unclear whether continental ice sheets-and hence global sea levels-mirror these rapid changes. In his Perspective, Henderson discusses the report by Thompson and Goldstein, who have used a new correction method to date coral samples that are up to 250,000 years old. The corals can be used to deduce past sea levels. The resulting sea-level record shows that sea levels have varied on millennial time scales even during times of high sea level and relative climate stability.