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Open-System Coral Ages Reveal Persistent Suborbital Sea-Level Cycles

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Science  15 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5720, pp. 401-404
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104035

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Abstract

Sea level is a sensitive index of global climate that has been linked to Earth's orbital variations, with a minimum periodicity of about 21,000 years. Although there is ample evidence for climate oscillations that are too frequent to be explained by orbital forcing, suborbital-frequency sea-level change has been difficult to resolve, primarily because of problems with uranium/thorium coral dating. Here we use a new approach that corrects coral ages for the frequently observed open-system behavior of uranium-series nuclides, substantially improving the resolution of sea-level reconstruction. This curve reveals persistent sea-level oscillations that are too frequent to be explained exclusively by orbital forcing.

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