‘Catastrophic’ sea level rise in the past may have drowned corals in Hawaii

Investigations to predict changes in sea levels and their impacts on coastal systems are a step closer, as a result of international collaboration between the University of Sydney and researchers from Japan, Spain, and the United States.

Scientists globally are investigating just how quickly sea-level rise can occur as a result of global warming and ice sheets melting.

Recent findings suggest that episodes of very rapid sea-level rise of about 20m in less than 500 years occurred in the last deglaciation, caused by periods of catastrophic ice-sheet collapse as the Earth warmed after the last ice age about 20,000 years ago.

Lead author, PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, Kelsey Sanborn, has shown this sea-level rise event was associated with “drowning” or death of coral reefs in Hawaii.

VIDEO: This is an animation showing the initial rapid flooding of the -150m reef terrace, shown by the rising blue sea level. The location of sample recovery is shown by the purple cube. CREDIT Bathymetry data from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and animation by Kelsey Sanborn, University of Sydney.

CREDIT: BATHYMETRY DATA FROM MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM RESEARCH INSTITUTE, AND ANIMATION BY KELSEY SANBORN, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY.

The results are published today in leading geosciences journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

The paper provides new evidence of a meltwater pulse (referred to as meltwater pulse 1-A), based on analysis of fossil coral reef samples from off the coast of Kawaihae, on the northwest of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Co-author Associate Professor Jody Webster, from the Geocoastal Research Group at the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences, said although this pulse was greater than current modelling predictions of sea-level rise over the next few hundred years, it provides an example of the risks rapid environmental change poses to our marine ecosystems.

“If we saw a sea-level rise in the future of a similar rate as this past event, it would likely devastate coral reefs and coastal systems,” Associate Professor Webster said.

The fossil corals used in this study were collected by a team of technical rebreather scuba divers who dove down to 150 m below present sea level to access the fossil reef. At this depth, more than 130m deeper than where you could dive along their living shallow counterparts today, the divers recovered targeted shallow reef species that were alive over 14,700 years ago.

Lead author Ms Sanborn said this coral reef had been growing for thousands of years, during the initially gradual sea-level rise as the ice sheets of the last ice age began to melt.

“During the meltwater pulse, sea level rose more rapidly than the reef could grow, preventing the photosynthetic algae living within the corals from receiving enough sunlight. This caused the previously thriving fringing reef system to drown, and left it to be overgrown by deep-water algae and other marine life,” she said.

Although uncertainty remains regarding how quickly coastal areas could be inundated around the world, understanding how these events occurred in the past are key to understanding the risks we face in the future.

“The fact that this meltwater pulse was large enough to drown a large, active Hawaiian reef system implies that extreme climate change and associated sea-level rise occurred quite rapidly,” Ms Sanborn said.

This event is believed to have been brought about by catastrophic melting of the Greenland, and potentially also Antarctic, ice sheets.

“This may help us better predict the extent of future sea-level rise based on how vulnerable the Antarctic ice sheet is to collapse and melting,” Ms Sanborn said.

The research was a collaborative effort between the University of Sydney, the University of Tokyo, the University of Florida, the University of Granada, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the University of Hawaii, and the Association for Marine Exploration.

RESEARCH DETAILS

As part of the research, Ms Sanborn examined the evidence for reef drowning by identifying the coral reef species which grow within a specific depth range, and dating them using radiocarbon dating.

Taking into account the sinking of the island due to its volcanism, the relative-sea level history of Kawaihae was reconstructed.

The findings suggest that this reef was rapidly drowned by the combined effects of sinking of the island and global sea-level rise.

This is supported by other studies from around the world showing a rapid sea-level rise around 14,700 years ago.

###

Advertisements

97 thoughts on “‘Catastrophic’ sea level rise in the past may have drowned corals in Hawaii

  1. They discovered that sea level rise (the sea level was 130 m lower some 13,000 years ago) happened even in Hawaii. How much did it cost to make this discovery?

    • They also discovered that the corals alive then are still alive today. If the sea level rise had truely decimated the corals 14,000 years ago, how are there any corals there today?
      Seems to me that the corals still survived the inundation and still thrive today.
      If not, Hawaii would have no coral reefs but ancient dead coral reefs.

  2. The fossil corals used in this study were collected by a team of technical rebreather scuba divers who dove down to 150 m below present sea level to access the fossil reef.

    Unless they were a time-travelling team of technical rebreather scuba divers… *present* sea level is the only sea level under which they could dive.

  3. If their calculations are reasonably accurate then it is not likely if but when similar sea level rise occurs again. Just have to wait till the end of this interglacial and then all the way to the beginning of the next. I set my alarm for about 110,000 years for next Saturday.

  4. Meltwater Pulse 1A happened at a time when there was just a little bet more ice available for melting…


    And they have two conflicting sets of “fingerprints” for the cause the MWP 1A…

    In the first significant jump (meltwater pulse 1Ao, or MWP 1Ao), 19,600-18,800 years ago, ocean levels climbed at least 10 m within 800 years. However, not all sea level proxies register this event. A faster rise began 14,600 years ago during the comparatively mild Bølling-Allerød interstadial, accelerated about 300 years later and peaked about 13,800 years ago (meltwater pulse 1A, or MWP 1A) (Stanford et al., 2011). Sea level rose ~16 m during this event at rates of 26-53 mm/yr. Computer models that “fingerprint” spatial patterns of sea level rise attribute much of the meltwater to Antarctica. Different sources of ice melt leave geographically distinctive sea level fingerprints, because their ice unloading histories and gravitational pull between shrinking ice masses and ocean vary. On the other hand, geological data indicate significant deglaciation in Antarctica starting only toward the end of MWP 1A, which suggests that most of the meltwater originated from the breakup of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets.

    https://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/gornitz_10/

    Rendering this comment totally pointless…

    “This may help us better predict the extent of future sea-level rise based on how vulnerable the Antarctic ice sheet is to collapse and melting,” Ms Sanborn said.

  5. It does not seem to me that this study confirms anything that an elementary school child could not also have easily told them. When sea level rises 150 feet, the things that were previously near sea level become submerged by 150 feet.If they require a shallow water habitat, they die. We spent how much for this??

  6. What if the fast rise of the sea was the rapid settling of Mauna Loa into the crust instead? Isn’t that a possibility as well since this is a local, only it would seem, event?

  7. Sorry, buds, but most corals can grow and move a LOT faster than 0.04 meters per year (20 meters/500 years). Unless the sea level rose 20 meters in something like 10 years (which they are not claiming), then the corals would’ve adapted just fine. It’s FAR likelier that something else killed the corals a long time ago…something like, oh say, a large pulse of volcanic gases or heat into the nearby ocean? Of course, than can’t be the answer because it doesn’t fit the narrative and no such phenomenon has ever been observed in Hawaii.

    • Yup. I’m sure, if they wanted to, they could find areas where local sea level change, due to land movement, is very high. Then look at how the local corals are doing. Simples.

      But they don’t want to…. Or, rather, they may like to go on another scientific holiday to a tropical reef, but don’t like the idea of going to find something which contradicts the narrative.

      It’s warm. It’s sunny. But it’s not science.

    • NA, the reef didn’t die. It just moved upward as sea level rose. The older ‘abandoned’ part got submerged 150 meters, and those polyps died. Their buds and spawn did not. No different than thinking individual aspen trees ‘die’ when the whole aspen forest is a single biological entity connected by rhyzomes.
      Read the paper abstract. The submerged reef discussed is on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. This is the famous Kona Coast, which hosts the top 14 snorkelling destinations in all the Hawaiian Islands. The vast thriving fringe reefs are a major tourist dive destination, and is essentially where the ‘drowned’ reef moved to. Google will take you to many images of them.

      • ” 20m in less than 500 years occurred in the last deglaciation,”

        you know……no one is playing their game here
        They started from a glaciation….that caused ridiculously low sea levels in the first place

        There’s not enough water locked up as ice to do that again..

      • Kawaihae is in the saddle area between the Kohala and Mauna Kea volcanoes. According to Wikipedia Mauna Kea is currently subsiding at about 2mm a year. With sea level rising at less than 3mm a year corals only have to adapt to a relative sea level change of less than 5mm per year. I don’t think we have to worry about them. By the way, If you snorkel off Kawaihae harbor, you won’t be impressed by the coral, but there are abundant fish of many species. The corals are still alive and well, of course, you just have to go a little further south to find them.

    • An indication of how fast the sea level changed would be the amount of reef building between the deeper ‘drowned’ coral and the shallower reef. If the change was slow, there will be coral growth where conditions allowed the polyps to anchor themselves. If there was an abrupt change in level, there would be intermediate depths where locations hospitable to the polyps did not have coral growth.

      Because of the larval stage when the polyps swim freely, no climate change that does not kill off the larval form can wipe out a species so long as eliminating an old habitat creates a new habitat that the larva can anchor onto. To answer the question of how far the larva can drift before anchoring themselves, we would need to know where the coral polyps that first populated the Hawaiian islands came from.

      Given that the corals have survived multiple exits from ice ages in the past, unless the level of CO2 below which corals cannot build reefs is higher than the levels below which plants die, drastic measures will be needed to prevent coral from killing us all.

      Contrary to Gaia worshipers everywhere, it appears that the final equilibrium of a biosphere is a dead planet, as Life on Earth is actively working to extinguish itself.

      • Even the slowest forms of microscopic life can move faster than the current rate of sea level rise. Even the slowest growing coral can grow up to 25 mm per year. At the current 3.0mm/yr SLR I don’t think they have much to worry about.

  8. Just once I would like to see an article entitled “Catastrophic sea level fall in the past may have killed all the corals in Hawaii”. You know it had to happen sometime in the past.

  9. “Did rapid sea-level rise drown fossil coral reefs around Hawaii?”

    Of course it did, again and again and again. This may be the most inane press-release about a “scientific discovery” ever. Sea-level varies about 120 meter between glaciation and interglaciation, and the rise at the end of a glaciation on average takes about 10,000 years, though the rate varies strongly.

    What do they think? That the corals pack up their reef and carries it upslope? The corals die when water rises faster than the reef can grow, but since corals have pelagic larvae, these settle higher up near the new coastline. However there is probably not enough time for large reefs to form until the sea-level more or less stabilizes during the interglacial.

    The same thing in reverse will happen when the next glaciation starts. The interglacial coral reefs will be literally left high and dry and the corals will have to start trekking downslope again until they can settle on top of their ancestors long-dead-and-drowned glacial reefs again.

    This has happened many many times the last few million years:

    • I agee with Beng, +100

      What tty is saying is so obviously true, and yet we will never find such a logical explanation of coral behavior from our academics, institutional science or the media for the simple reason it does not fit the alarmist narrative. Good grief.

      I still read National Geographic but only for the story of man…at which they excel, otherwise their magazine, along with all of our political and educated class, suffers from a stench that comes with the use of the term “deenyer” Al Gore uses when confronted with people who question his interpretation of the science.

      Sorry for the long sentences.

    • And if the coastline is undergoing tectonic uplift the old reef can be saved from being inundated the next time there is an interglacial sea level rise..

  10. ScienceDaily burbles: “This event is believed to have been brought about by catastrophic melting of the Greenland, and potentially also Antarctic, ice sheets.”

    That is, of course, if you ignore melting of the Laurentide and Fennoscandian ice sheets.

    • Yes, and the Greenland ice-sheet can’t melt “catastrophically” for topographic reasons. It isn’t a coincidence that it is the only northern hemisphere ice-sheet that survives even through the warmest interglacials.

    • Last I checked, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets were still there, which makes it highly unlikely that the ‘catastrophically’ melted 14,000 years ago. These folks appear to be awful scientists, but they sure know how to do the climate crisis hussle!

  11. 20m in less than 500 years…..and they think that killed off the reef
    Well, it killed of that reef….now if they will look higher up…they will see where it moved to

    • That is actually slow and regular in the Hawai’ian chain. Just trace the islands westwards as they erode and subside into atolls and finally become seamounts.

      • The build up is rather slow by human time metrics, but geologically fast.
        The collapses are not slow events even in human time standards. They happen rapidly like a landslide (actually that’s what they are) and can generate tsunamis if the event is large enough.
        There was a small partial collapse in May of this year.

      • You are speaking of a flank collapse which is indeed a large slide and a fast process. However it wouldn’t leave a more or less intact reef at 100 m below sea-level. Take a look at Oahu, which essentially consists of three huge slide scars.

      • They didn’t say how much of a reef or how intact it was. They only collected samples from some coral formations. Visual inspection of any intact exposed formations would quickly determine if the orientation (tropisms due to gravity, sun, etc.) of these corals had been changed that would indicate a repositioning rather than a insitu submergence.

    • My thoughts as well. Kilauea has been building up its delta and collapsing it since it began forming the big island. Have these surveys ascertained if these dead corals were submerged by rising sea levels or could the depth be due to a collapse of the section of volcanic shield they were inhabiting.

      • Actually Kilauea is the youngest volcano on the big island which was mostly built up by the other four volcanoes. The center of activity keeps moving south-east (or rather the Pacific plate keeps moving north-west). A few thousand years more and Lo’ihi seamount will break surface.

      • Probably someone said this already but in case and in haste…What happened when sea levels were 100 metres lower, which they are most of the time throughout the currently predominant ice ages, barring short interglacials like now, for the last 1 Billion years or so. Seem to manage all right when they get “drowned” for 20,000 years or so at each interglacial high water mark, as we have now. etc. People are so obsessed with tiny changes in their short and largely pointless lives. Planet just gets on with whatever nature determines it must do. Puny short lived humans adapt or fail. Think you can engineer the planet, or even understand what to do? Get over yourselves! etc.Simples!

      • “What happened when sea levels were 100 metres lower, which they are most of the time throughout the currently predominant ice ages, barring short interglacials like now, for the last 1 Billion years or so. ”

        Contrariwise. Most of the last billion years sea-levels were 50-200 meters higher than now. Ice-ages are relatively rare. The current glacial epoch started about 35 million years ago, and ice-cover became permanent in Antarctica c. 14 million years ago.

  12. “…caused by periods of catastrophic ice-sheet collapse as the Earth warmed after the last ice age about 20,000 years ago”

    Why is it catastrophic? And the use of ‘collapse’ is equally not a scientific term but an emotive one. It is as if it should not have happened. The ice sheets melt (not collapse) and the whole of the northern hemisphere opens up to human exploration and colonization.

    • A marine-based ice-sheet can theoretically collapse if the bottom topography is just right and sea-level rises so that more than 90% of the ice-thickness is below the sea-level. The “Heinrich Events” in the North Atlantic may have been such collapses of ice sheets in the Baffin Bay and/or Barents Sea areas. Of course it is a slow collapse – we’re talking centuries or millenia here, ice after all flows rather slowly.

      Interestingly there is nary a trace of “Heinrich Events” in the Southern Ocean though a collapse of e. g. the WAIS would be vastly larger than an ordinary Heinrich Event.

      • tty September 28, 2017 at 10:55 am
        Surely an ice sheet will break up if not melt. Collapse is when something falls in or down according to the dictionary. Ice cannot fall down. Equally ‘catastrophic’ means disaster. So in reality we have periods of ice break up and melting on a global scale which is more descriptive and less emotive. Also I would associate catastrophe with sudden events and not where change happens over 100s of years even if on a global scale.

  13. “Computer models that “fingerprint” spatial patterns of sea level rise attribute much of the meltwater to Antarctica.”

    This is a very popular viewpoint because of its “scare potential” for a rapid Antarctic ice collapse. The only problem is that the Antarctic ice didn’t decrease much, if at all, during this time interval, and that it is unlikely that even the total decrease of the ice in Antarctica amounts to as much as 20 meters of sea-level.

    New dating methods (isotope exposure dating) have shown that most of the signs of higher ice-levels in Antarctica that were previously thought to be from the last glaciation are very much older, often from the Pliocene or even the Miocene. There simply wasn’t much more ice in Antarctica during the last glacial maximum than there is now.

  14. So not just New York, Coral Reefs will drown now.

    Does anyone else detect an heightened level of hysteria from the alarmists as the whole scam begins to crumble?

    • Hey HotScot, to all WUWT readers the hysteria is obvious, given the persuasion power of media I think CAGW acceptance comes as no surprise to most of us.

      I hope I’m wrong but from where I sit (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) if you are a climate “deenyer” you are irrelevant. IMHO this thing is far from crumbling.

  15. ““If we saw a sea-level rise in the future of a similar rate as this past event, it would likely devastate coral reefs and coastal systems,” Associate Professor Webster said.

    Professor? If it did this in the past and corals are still here then…?

  16. 1) Present day ice sheets are only a tiny fraction of the ice sheets from 13kya.
    2) Even under such catastrophic events, coral didn’t go extinct.

  17. “If we saw a sea-level rise in the future of a similar rate as this past event, it would likely devastate coral reefs and coastal systems,” Associate Professor Webster said.

    OK so this happened in the past and yet we still have coral. If it happens again n the future we will still have coral. Why all the hand wringing?

  18. “This event (meltwater pulse 1A) is believed to have been caused by catastrophic melting of the Greenland and possibly also Antarctic ice sheets.”
    Nope. Those ice sheets hardly melted at all according to ice cores–and they are still there. It was mainly the melting Laurentide ice sheet, fully gone about 8000 years ago. The effort to tie deglaciation pulse 1A drowning a fringe reef to future CAGW is pathetically laughable.

  19. Yes, but they were devastated, not eradicated.
    And, not much of a reach at that. A 150m SL rise doesn’t take a geologist to realize it would have a substantial effect on coastal regions. Heck, it might even drown the stature of liberty.

    • They don’t drown, but if the water gets to deep (or too turbid) their symbiotic algae don’t get enough sunlight. And coral islands do “drown”, every guyot in the Pacific is an ex-atoll where the corals for some reason failed to keep up with subsidence.

      • “Wikipedia thinks guyots are volcanic in nature.”

        Indeed, and so are atolls. They start out as “high” volcanic islands with fringing reefs, as the volcano subsides/erodes the corals keep up with sea level and an atoll forms. Sometimes (not always) they eventually lose out and a guyot results. This was basically figured out by Charled Darwin 150 years ago, and has been confirmed by drilling guyots. They are sunken volcanoes topped by a coral limestone plateau.

    • Fish “drown” in air. Coral will “drown” when it doesn’t get enough O2 in the deeper water. The article, however, uses photosynthesis (or lack thereof) as the cause of “drowning”, which doesn’t sit well with me.

      • There are deep-water corals as well, but they aren’t hermatypic (i e don’t build reefs) and they of course lack photosynthetic symbionts. So, no, there is enough oxygen in deep waters, but not enough sunlight.

  20. So, how much of the rapid sea level change was due to deglaciation, vs volcanic “sinking”? Looking at a ~120m change in a short (how short) period of time, the melt would have to be MASSIVE to raise the Pacific that much.

    It’s good to have this study to shed light on the rate of SL rise that coral can tolerate. Aside from just affecting photosynthesis, they probably had to consider aeration as the coral fell farther from the tidal/wave actions that oxygenate the water. Also to be considered would be other issues related to ice melt, such as lowered temperatures in an otherwise tropical environment, waters “turning over” due to convection (like lakes do), changes in salinity, exodus of reef fish due to worsening conditions, and direct results of volcanic activity, to name a few.

    Kudos on the research, though.

    • You are getting lost in their summation, not the details.

      “Recent findings suggest that episodes of very rapid sea-level rise of about 20m in less than 500 years occurred in the last deglaciation, caused by periods of catastrophic ice-sheet collapse as the Earth warmed after the last ice age about 20,000 years ago.”

      A 20 meter rise over five hundred years reckons out to 40mm a year.

      Sloths, sea cucumbers, snails and slugs would be able to save themselves.

    • “So, how much of the rapid sea level change was due to deglaciation, vs volcanic “sinking”? Looking at a ~120m change in a short (how short) period of time, the melt would have to be MASSIVE to raise the Pacific that much.”

      Volcanic subsidence is quite minor over such a short period. And yes, there was MASSIVE melting:

      That is a lot of ice

  21. Funny thing, I never hear much about climate change in Hawaii. The climate seems very stable. I think that if warming were occurring, the Hawaiian Islands would be like the canary in the coal mine. Is the overall temperature warming there? It seems to me to be the “perfect” climate with little variability.

    • I think Hawaii’s temperature is controlled by sea surface temperature (SST). The global SST has changed very little (<<1°C). Therefore, Hawaii (and places like Florida and Iceland) will show no measurable change. I guess Iceland is controlled by the gulf stream. A shift in location of the gulf stream would have a huge effect on Iceland (and I think the UK). A shift in the gulf stream would not necessarily be associated with a change in global SST.

      • True, but I am pointing out that as long as the gulf stream stays put, Iceland is unlikely to experience significant climate change (even if the globe warms). An interesting fact, due to the relatively warm SST around Iceland due to the gulf stream, they have a fairly constant temperature. Their summer to winter temperature variation is much lower than other locations at similar latitude.

  22. Without wishing to nitpick, the Greenland ice sheet hardly melted at all – it is locked in place by a ring of protective mountains. One the other hand, the Laurentide ice sheet did melt – in its entirity.

    The topographic bowl that protects the Greenland ice sheet.
    Otherwise, the Greenland sheet would have melted during the Holocene Maximum.

  23. uuuuhhhhhggg animations and computer models “proof” the world is going to drown and it is all humans fault!!!!! run for Mars!!!!! Seems that comedian spouted a universal truth… “you can’t fix stupid” – can’t recall his name at the moment. Entirely too many supposedly intelligent people are stuck on stupid, can’t recall it being this bad when I was younger.

    Cheers!

    Joe

  24. In spite of tty’s relative forgiveness towards the alleged researchers for using the word “drown”; the reality is that corals do not “drown” per se. What happened to those Hawaii corals is definitely not described in clear scientific language.

    The only relatively close meanings’ of “drown” is to “submerge”. Those corals were already “submerged”.

    “Drown” as used by the alleged researcher PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, Kelsey Sanborn is solely meant to alarm, not inform.

    “Co-author Associate Professor Jody Webster, from the Geocoastal Research Group at the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences, said although this pulse was greater than current modelling predictions of sea-level rise over the next few hundred years, it provides an example of the risks rapid environmental change poses to our marine ecosystems.

    “If we saw a sea-level rise in the future of a similar rate as this past event, it would likely devastate coral reefs and coastal systems,” Associate Professor Webster said.”

    Any “current modeling predictions of sea-level rise” claiming sea level increases of similar magnitude are not true models or predictions. Those models allegedly predicting such huge melt water pulses are pure speculation requiring absurd assumptions on the part of the modelers.

    “The fossil corals used in this study were collected by a team of technical rebreather scuba divers who dove down to 150 m below present sea level to access the fossil reef. At this depth, more than 130m deeper than where you could dive along their living shallow counterparts today, the divers recovered targeted shallow reef species that were alive over 14,700 years ago.”

    In other words, an extended Hawaiian vacation scuba and skin diving.

    “The fact that this meltwater pulse was large enough to drown a large, active Hawaiian reef system implies that extreme climate change and associated sea-level rise occurred quite rapidly,” Ms Sanborn said.”

    This event is believed to have been brought about by catastrophic melting of the Greenland, and potentially also Antarctic, ice sheets.”

    Multiple specious claims without evidence to support.
    One wonders just what deep research this team performed regarding their claims?

    “If we saw a sea-level rise in the future of a similar rate as this past event, it would likely devastate coral reefs and coastal systems,” Associate Professor Webster said”

    Now there is a frightening claim totally without merit.
    “Devastate”.
    No!

    From dear NOAA:

    “About three-quarters of all stony corals produce male and/or female gametes. Most of these species are broadcast spawners, releasing massive numbers of eggs and sperm into the water to distribute their offspring over a broad geographic area (Veron, 2000). The eggs and sperm join to form free-floating, or planktonic, larvae called planulae. Large numbers of planulae are produced to compensate for the many hazards, such as predators, that they encounter as they are carried by water currents. The time between planulae formation and settlement is a period of exceptionally high mortality among corals (Barnes and Hughes, 1999). video icon”

    One, just one of coral’s prolificacy mechanisms is spawning immense amounts of free floating planulae, which spread anywhere ocean water flows.
    Wherever a coral’s specific environment conditions are right, these planulae anchor, thrive and spawn.

    A mechanism that works extremely well as corals have survived multiple glaciations and inter-glacials.

  25. Why did they say all this meltwater came from Greenland and Antarctica, when there was A MILE OF ICE over 1/3 of the NA continent?

    • They are trying to scare people into thinking that it could reasonable happen again in the near future (our lifetime or our kids lifetime). Obviously, whatever sea level rise there is will be slow (as Greenland and Antarctica are way too cold to catastrophically melt)

    • Surely the Holocene melting would have been in the form of a poleward migration of the permanent snow line? It would not have occurred as an all-over loss of ice across the entire cryosphere.
      The current permanent snowlines around the coasts of Greenland and Antarctica more-or-less represent the extreme limit. Any ice above these lines will have been there for a very long time.
      The Greenland ice cores and the Vostok ice cores provide a continuous record going back several hundred thousand years precisely because absolutely NO melting has taken place at those locations in that time?

      • For East Antarctica, yes. On Greenland no ice older than the penultimate glaciation has been found, but study of rocks and organic materials brought up from below the ice by drill cores do indicate that there has been no complete melting of the lowland part of the icecap for at least 1.8 million years. The highland ice cap in East Greenland is probably as old as the ice in East Antarctica.
        Strangely enough there has been very little drilling in West Antarctica, and none to the bottom in areas where old ice might be found (perhaps because such old ice would essentially kill the “catastrophic sea-level rise” meme?). However surface ice older than the last interglaciation has been found in several places in West Antarctica and the ANDRILL-1B core in the Ross Sea strongly suggests that the WAIS ice sheet has not been much smaller than now for at least 1 million years.

        And ice in Antarctica did decrease a bit at the end of the last glaciation. This was mostly caused by the sea-level rise when northern hemisphere ice melted. Ice in Antarctia is essentially limited by the deep sea all around the continent since glacier ice is not stable in water depths greater than about 500 meters, so when sea levels rose the ice-edge retreated. On the other hand ice inland in East Antarctica may actually be thicker now than during the glaciation due to more snow.

  26. Why is anyone even responding to something so utterly pointless by this amazingly daft so called student? In denial of the known climate record pushing a line that even my dog wouldn’t swallow. Change happens, with or without humans. Get over it. And stop wasting Oz taxpayers money on bad science (BS) used as an excuse for a Hawaiian holiday. Now i’m doing it. Doh!

      • Lots of studies of the volcanoes and the corals, garnts need to include the words climate change effect on, or the effect on climate change of. Get writing….how can they refuse, when inevitable climate change catastrophe is coming soon..’ish, maybe, one way or another.

  27. Wouldn’t you use the word drown to describe being starved of oxygen rather than being ‘starved’ of sunlight? It’s just a language quibble, but it seems the wrong word to use for what happened.

  28. When you approach your research from a negative viewpoint, you miss out on the real story. Summary of article’s research: Rapid SLR, coral died. Duh!

    Real exciting scientific question and conclusions I take from the exact same study: Rapid SLR coral survived! How?

    Well as usual numerous WUWT responders ahead of me answered the ‘How’ thoroughly. The takeaway? Class Anthozoa, as a group are leaders among the toughest, most persistent creatures in the geologic record. They have existed for over half a billion years through hot and cold earth’s, through the aftermath of numerous bolides that have smashed into earth and killed almost everything else. There are numerous species and can be found from deep (3000m) to shallow, warm to cold water (off Washington coast, off Scotland) and countless species have gone extinct but they keep cranking out new species of this most successful format.

    These tough bestids will outlast every other creature on the planet and already have attended the funerals of 95% of all the species of life that ever lived. Coral will be there representing the last life at the earth’s funeral.

    You biology types that want to tell sad stories of imminent death and destruction. Steer clear of these gritty little blighters.

    • Gary Pearse September 28, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      Sorry, they are just a flash in the pan compared to my heroes…the Stromatolites. THEY will be here in 1 biliion years, not sure about your lot!

  29. I recall a show on National Geographic, which stated that during this period, global sea level rose around 65 feet during 100 yr periods — or, about 170 times faster than today.

  30. At most, SLR at the present stage of the interglacial is but a few millimeters per year, nowhere close to the 4 cm/yr. seen in spurts during the last deglaciation. Any spooked owner of coastal property in Hawai’i eager to unload his holdings at a steep discount, please contact me immediately for an all-cash sale.

  31. “The findings suggest that this reef was rapidly drowned by the combined effects of sinking of the island and global sea-level rise.”

    If global sea level rise drown this reef in Hawaii, then similar phenomena would be found elsewhere in the world. Until then, there is no reason to attribute anything to global sea level rise.

  32. Catastrophic climate change is likely the average event on Earth, not the benevolent stable climate event on Earth. Is it possible that catastrophe drives evolutionary adaptation and specie robustness?

    • Yes, and at all scale levels!

      For example, in Hawaii, lava flows can create isolated islands of flora and fauna, which then evolve differences in species despite their close proximity.

    • A qualified yes. Though abrupt climatic change can also cause extinction, particularly after a long period of relative stability. However we do live in a glacial era of extreme climatic variability, so virtually all extant species (e. g. corals) are known to have survived repeated and extreme climatic changes. The exceptions are a few very young species (mostly plant species of hybrid origin) which have originated during the present interglacial.

  33. Hell, all this destruction, without a single SUV or coal fired power house to blame.

    No wonder the greenies of the day had a hard time blaming man..

  34. Sp I’m confused, what did we do wrong 15,000 years ago to cause this sudden ice melt? Certainly humans caused that too right. I mean the CO2 levels must have tippled every year back then due to new tribes starting a cooking fires due to the the growth of the population

    • Exactly! I wonder if the author of this ‘study’ realized that, in drawing the conclusions he did, he proved the hypothesis that human COULD NOT be a principal cause of global warming. ie It warmed enough to ‘drown’ the coral (still trying to wrap my head around how something that lives entirely underwater can drown!) but man cannot be a cause of the sea level rise simply because he wasn’t around back then (20,000+ years ago). ipso facto

  35. All these comments are responding (more or less rightly) to a news article about a new paper, which isn’t linked to in the post and is paywalled anyway.

    It’s almost beyond belief that anyone with a bit of scientific training, even a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Sydney, could make statements as inane as those quoted in the post. More likely, she was prompted by a reporter to make responses to leading questions, which then had selected words, phrases or sentences taken out of context and threaded together with bits from the abstract to produce an article replete with hints of impending disaster.

    If an honest reporter with education, intelligence, insight and integrity (that’s a theoretical construct that has never been observed in the wild, although a 20,000 year-old, frozen corpse recently excavated from melting permafrost is believed to have been an early member of the sub-species that subsequently went extinct due to climate change) had understood the substance and the significance of the observations reported in the paper and produced an article saying “New study shows that Hawaiian coral reefs survived rapid sea-level rise by recolonizing at higher levels”, would it have been published?

    Silly (and rhetorical) question.

    Having been interviewed by a journalist and seen my (non-controversial, routine, boring) words taken out of context in an attempt to make a story that bore only the remotest resemblance to what I actually said, I really can’t overestimate the ability of journalists to fabricate sensational stories from banal everyday facts.

    But I can understand why they feel they have to do it.

Comments are closed.