Coralgal reef morphology records punctuated sea-level rise during the last deglaciation.
ABSTRACT: Coralgal reefs preserve the signatures of sea-level fluctuations over Earth's history, in particular since the Last Glacial Maximum 20,000 years ago, and are used in this study to indicate that punctuated sea-level rise events are more common than previously observed during the last deglaciation. Recognizing the nature of past sea-level rises (i.e., gradual or stepwise) during deglaciation is critical for informing models that predict future vertical behavior of global oceans. Here we present high-resolution bathymetric and seismic sonar data sets of 10 morphologically similar drowned reefs that grew during the last deglaciation and spread 120?km apart along the south Texas shelf edge. Herein, six commonly observed terrace levels are interpreted to be generated by several punctuated sea-level rise events forcing the reefs to shrink and backstep through time. These systematic and common terraces are interpreted to record punctuated sea-level rise events over timescales of decades to centuries during the last deglaciation, previously recognized only during the late Holocene.
Project description:The major cause of sea-level change during ice ages is the exchange of water between ice and ocean and the planet's dynamic response to the changing surface load. Inversion of ?1,000 observations for the past 35,000 y from localities far from former ice margins has provided new constraints on the fluctuation of ice volume in this interval. Key results are: (i) a rapid final fall in global sea level of ?40 m in <2,000 y at the onset of the glacial maximum ?30,000 y before present (30 ka BP); (ii) a slow fall to -134 m from 29 to 21 ka BP with a maximum grounded ice volume of ?52 × 10(6) km(3) greater than today; (iii) after an initial short duration rapid rise and a short interval of near-constant sea level, the main phase of deglaciation occurred from ?16.5 ka BP to ?8.2 ka BP at an average rate of rise of 12 m?ka(-1) punctuated by periods of greater, particularly at 14.5-14.0 ka BP at ?40 mm?y(-1) (MWP-1A), and lesser, from 12.5 to 11.5 ka BP (Younger Dryas), rates; (iv) no evidence for a global MWP-1B event at ?11.3 ka BP; and (v) a progressive decrease in the rate of rise from 8.2 ka to ?2.5 ka BP, after which ocean volumes remained nearly constant until the renewed sea-level rise at 100-150 y ago, with no evidence of oscillations exceeding ?15-20 cm in time intervals ?200 y from 6 to 0.15 ka BP.
Project description:Climate plays a central role in coral-reef development, especially in marginal environments. The high-latitude reefs of southeast Florida are currently non-accreting, relict systems with low coral cover. This region also did not support the extensive Late Pleistocene reef development observed in many other locations around the world; however, there is evidence of significant reef building in southeast Florida during the Holocene. Using 146 radiometric ages from reefs extending ~ 120 km along Florida's southeast coast, we test the hypothesis that the latitudinal extent of Holocene reef development in this region was modulated by climatic variability. We demonstrate that although sea-level changes impacted rates of reef accretion and allowed reefs to backstep inshore as new habitats were flooded, sea level was not the ultimate cause of reef demise. Instead, we conclude that climate was the primary driver of the expansion and contraction of Florida's reefs during the Holocene. Reefs grew to 26.7° N in southeast Florida during the relatively warm, stable climate at the beginning of the Holocene Thermal Maximum (HTM) ~ 10,000 years ago, but subsequent cooling and increased frequency of winter cold fronts were associated with the equatorward contraction of reef building. By ~ 7800 years ago, actively accreting reefs only extended to 26.1° N. Reefs further contracted to 25.8° N after 5800 years ago, and by 3000 years ago reef development had terminated throughout southern Florida (24.5-26.7° N). Modern warming is unlikely to simply reverse this trend, however, because the climate of the Anthropocene will be fundamentally different from the HTM. By increasing the frequency and intensity of both warm and cold extreme-weather events, contemporary climate change will instead amplify conditions inimical to reef development in marginal reef environments such as southern Florida, making them more likely to continue to deteriorate than to resume accretion in the future.
Project description:The most rapid global sea-level rise event of the last deglaciation, Meltwater Pulse 1A (MWP-1A), occurred ∼14,650 years ago. Considerable uncertainty regarding the sources of meltwater limits understanding of the relationship between MWP-1A and the concurrent fast-changing climate. Here we present a data-driven inversion approach, using a glacio-isostatic adjustment model to invert for the sources of MWP-1A via sea-level constraints from six geographically distributed sites. The results suggest contributions from Antarctica, 1.3 m (0-5.9 m; 95% probability), Scandinavia, 4.6 m (3.2-6.4 m) and North America, 12.0 m (5.6-15.4 m), giving a global mean sea-level rise of 17.9 m (15.7-20.2 m) in 500 years. Only a North American dominant scenario successfully predicts the observed sea-level change across our six sites and an Antarctic dominant scenario is firmly refuted by Scottish isolation basin records. Our sea-level based results therefore reconcile with field-based ice-sheet reconstructions.
Project description:Ocean acidification threatens the foundation of tropical coral reefs. This study investigated three aspects of ocean acidification: (i) the rates at which perforate and imperforate coral-colony skeletons passively dissolve when pH is 7.8, which is predicted to occur globally by 2100, (ii) the rates of passive dissolution of corals with respect to coral-colony surface areas, and (iii) the comparative rates of a vertical reef-growth model, incorporating passive dissolution rates, and predicted sea-level rise. By 2100, when the ocean pH is expected to be 7.8, perforate Montipora coral skeletons will lose on average 15 kg CaCO3 m(-2) y(-1), which is approximately -10.5 mm of vertical reduction of reef framework per year. This rate of passive dissolution is higher than the average rate of reef growth over the last several millennia and suggests that reefs composed of perforate Montipora coral skeletons will have trouble keeping up with sea-level rise under ocean acidification. Reefs composed of primarily imperforate coral skeletons will not likely dissolve as rapidly, but our model shows they will also have trouble keeping up with sea-level rise by 2050.
Project description:Changes in ocean circulation and the biological carbon pump have been implicated as the drivers behind the rise in atmospheric CO2 across the last deglaciation; however, the processes involved remain uncertain. Previous records have hinted at a partitioning of deep ocean ventilation across the two major intervals of atmospheric CO2 rise, but the consequences of differential ventilation on the Si cycle has not been explored. Here we present three new records of silicon isotopes in diatoms and sponges from the Southern Ocean that together show increased Si supply from deep mixing during the deglaciation with a maximum during the Younger Dryas (YD). We suggest Antarctic sea ice and Atlantic overturning conditions favoured abyssal ocean ventilation at the YD and marked an interval of Si cycle reorganisation. By regulating the strength of the biological pump, the glacial-interglacial shift in the Si cycle may present an important control on Pleistocene CO2 concentrations.
Project description:Global mean sea level has experienced an unabated rise over the 20th century. This observed rise is due to both ocean warming and increasing continental freshwater discharge. We estimate the net ocean mass contribution to sea level by assessing the global ocean salt budget based on the unprecedented amount of in situ data over 2005-2015. We obtain the ocean mass trends of 1.30?±?1.13?mm?·?yr-1 (0-2000?m) and 1.55?±?1.20?mm?·?yr-1 (full depth). These new ocean mass trends are smaller by 0.63-0.88?mm?·?yr-1 compared to the ocean mass trend estimated through the sea level budget approach. Our result provides an independent validation of Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE)-based ocean mass trend and, in addition, places an independent constraint on the combined Glacial Isostatic Adjustment - the Earth's delayed viscoelastic response to the redistribution of mass that accompanied the last deglaciation- and geocenter variations needed to directly infer the ocean mass trend based on GRACE data.
Project description:Accurate quantification of the millennial-scale mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) and its contribution to global sea-level rise remain challenging because of sparse in situ observations in key regions. Glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) is the ongoing response of the solid Earth to ice and ocean load changes occurring since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; ~21 thousand years ago) and may be used to constrain the GrIS deglaciation history. We use data from the Greenland Global Positioning System network to directly measure GIA and estimate basin-wide mass changes since the LGM. Unpredicted, large GIA uplift rates of +12 mm/year are found in southeast Greenland. These rates are due to low upper mantle viscosity in the region, from when Greenland passed over the Iceland hot spot about 40 million years ago. This region of concentrated soft rheology has a profound influence on reconstructing the deglaciation history of Greenland. We reevaluate the evolution of the GrIS since LGM and obtain a loss of 1.5-m sea-level equivalent from the northwest and southeast. These same sectors are dominating modern mass loss. We suggest that the present destabilization of these marine-based sectors may increase sea level for centuries to come. Our new deglaciation history and GIA uplift estimates suggest that studies that use the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite mission to infer present-day changes in the GrIS may have erroneously corrected for GIA and underestimated the mass loss by about 20 gigatons/year.
Project description:In 1842 Charles Darwin claimed that vertical growth on a subsiding foundation caused fringing reefs to transform into barrier reefs then atolls. Yet historically no transition between reef types has been discovered and they are widely considered to develop independently from antecedent foundations during glacio-eustatic sea-level rise. Here we reconstruct reef development from cores recovered by IODP Expedition 310 to Tahiti, and show that a fringing reef retreated upslope during postglacial sea-level rise and transformed into a barrier reef when it encountered a Pleistocene reef-flat platform. The reef became stranded on the platform edge, creating a lagoon that isolated it from coastal sediment and facilitated a switch to a faster-growing coral assemblage dominated by acroporids. The switch increased the reef's accretion rate, allowing it to keep pace with rising sea level, and transform into a barrier reef. This retreat mechanism not only links Darwin's reef types, but explains the re-occupation of reefs during Pleistocene glacio-eustacy.
Project description:Since the Mid-Holocene, some 5000 years ago, coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean have been vertically constrained by sea level. Contemporary sea-level rise is releasing these constraints, providing accommodation space for vertical reef expansion. Here, we show that Porites microatolls, from reef-flat environments in Palau (western Pacific Ocean), are 'keeping up' with contemporary sea-level rise. Measurements of 570 reef-flat Porites microatolls at 10 locations around Palau revealed recent vertical skeletal extension (78±13?mm) over the last 6-8 years, which is consistent with the timing of the recent increase in sea level. We modelled whether microatoll growth rates will potentially 'keep up' with predicted sea-level rise in the near future, based upon average growth, and assuming a decline in growth for every 1°C increase in temperature. We then compared these estimated extension rates with rates of sea-level rise under four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). Our model suggests that under low-mid RCP scenarios, reef-coral growth will keep up with sea-level rise, but if greenhouse gas concentrations exceed 670?ppm atmospheric CO2 levels and with +2.2°C sea-surface temperature by 2100 (RCP 6.0?W?m(-2)), our predictions indicate that Porites microatolls will be unable to keep up with projected rates of sea-level rise in the twenty-first century.
Project description:Coral reefs are essential to millions of island inhabitants. Yet, coral reefs are threatened by thermal anomalies associated with climate change and by local disturbances that include land-use change, pollution, and the coral-eating sea star Acanthaster solaris. In combination, these disturbances cause coral mortality that reduce the capacity of reefs to produce enough carbonate to keep up with sea-level rise. This study compared the reef-building capacity of shallow-water inner, patch, and outer reefs in the two islands of Pohnpei and Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia. We identified which reefs were likely to keep up with sea-level rise under different climate-change scenarios, and estimated whether there were differences across habitats in the threshold of percentage coral cover at which net carbonate production becomes negative. We also quantified the influence of A. solaris on carbonate production. Whereas the northwestern outer reefs of Pohnpei and Kosrae had the highest net rates of carbonate production (18.5 and 16.4 kg CaCO3 m-2 yr-1, respectively), the southeastern outer reefs had the lowest rates of carbonate production (1.2-1.3 and 0.7 kg CaCO3 m-2 yr-1, respectively). The patch reefs of Pohnpei had on average higher net carbonate production rates (9.5 kg CaCO3 m-2 yr-1) than the inner reefs of both Pohnpei and Kosrae (7.0 and 7.8 kg CaCO3 m-2 yr-1, respectively). A. solaris were common on Kosrae and caused an average reduction in carbonate production of 0.6 kg CaCO3 m-2 yr-1 on Kosraean reefs. Northern outer reefs are the most likely habitats to keep up with sea-level rise in both Pohnpei and Kosrae. Overall, the inner reefs of Pohnpei and Kosrae need ~ 5.5% more coral cover to generate the same amount of carbonate as outer reefs. Therefore, inner reefs need special protection from land-use change and local pollution to keep pace with sea-level rise under all climate-change scenarios.