Nunn, Patrick D., 1998. Sea-Level Changes over the Past 1,000 Years in the Pacific. Journal of Coastal Research, 14(1), 23-30.


  • W. Roland Gehrels


Based on data from American Samoa, Fiji, the Gambier Islands, Guam, Kosrae, New Zealand, Rota and the Tuamotus, NUNN (1998) presented a sea-level envelope for the southern Pacific basin covering the past 1200 years. He identified: (1) a slow sea-level rise between ~1000 BP and ~700 BP from close to present sea level to ~0.9 m above present sea level; (2) a rapid fall of sea level around ~700-650 BP of ~1.4 m; (3) stable sea level between ~650 BP and --~450 BP; (4) a rise to 'a little above present sea level' around 430 BP; (5) slowly falling sea level to 0.9 m below present sea level between 430 BP and 200 BP; and (6) rapid sea-level rise in the past 150-200 years. Episodes 1 and 3-5 were associated with the Little Climatic Optimum and the Little Ice Age, respectively. It may be argued that sea-level data from such a wide geographical area should not be presented in the same diagram, even when selected data are from presumed 'stable' coastlines, because true isostatic stability does not exist (MITROVICA and PELTIER, 1991). However, the sole purpose of this discussion is to demonstrate that the proposed relationships between climate and sea level are not supported by the data if all height uncertainties and, particularly, age uncertainties are considered.






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