Chapter 4: Sea Level Changes. Seasonal Changes. Seasonal Changes. Non-seasonal Cyclic Changes

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1 Chapter 4: Sea Level Changes Tectonic Causes Climatic Causes Sediment Compaction & Fluid Withdrawal Isostasy Changes in Ocean Volume Current and Projected Sea Level Changes Tectonic Sea Level Change: Changing size and shape of container Local & Regional Changes Crustal movement along leading edge (active) coasts Eustatic (global) Tectonic Changes Sea-floor spreading Climatic Changes: short/long term, cyclical/non-cyclical Seasonal Changes Wind (velocity & direction) Atm. Pressure Temperature (thermal expansion) cm fluctuations Water moves to the right of the wind in the northern hemisphere Volume of water displaced by the wind depends on 1. Wind Velocity 2. Duration 3. Fetch Wind direction ocean response Seasonal Changes Temperature (thermal expansion) Non-seasonal Cyclic Changes El Nino (southern oscillation) 3-7 years 1

2 stronger than usual Subtropical High and a deeper than normal Icelandic Low. more and stronger winter storms warm and wet winters in Europe cold, dry winters Canada and Greenland Long-Term Climate Effects Eustatic or global changes in sea level Increasing/reducing water in the oceans Increasing/reducing global temperatures 2-3 degree Celsius change East Coast mild and wet winter Long-Term Climate Effects Sea-Level Rise: sediment compaction and fluid withdrawal Local-regional effect Rapid deposition of sediments (river deltas) gradually dewater as layers are added Fluid removal (water, oil, natural gas) Mississippi, Gulf Region (sea level rise 9 mm/yr) Old barrier island systems as peat layers decompose Isostatic Changes: Regional effect Vertical adjustments in lithospheric plates due to loadings/unloadings Ice sheet retreat/advance (O 1000yrs, 100 m) Vertical displacements depends on thickness and density of ice sheets and underlying crust Isostasy 2

3 Isostatic Changes: Young ocean basins, as oceanic crust cools, condenses and subsides (Red Sea, Gulf of Cali) Volcanic Islands (Hawaii) Depositional Continental Margins and coastal plains due to long term accumulation of sediment Changes in Volume Orbital Variations: Milankovitch Cycles -eccentricity variation in the shape of Earth s orbit -obliquity axial tilt -precession wobble Correlated with climate predicted by deep sea sediments Quaternary ice ages Predicts a cooling period Needs land mass near the poles to support ice sheets No human influence Variations in Earth s Orbit-Eccentricity 3% difference between aphelion and perihelion 20% - 30% maximum T = ~100,000 years Milankovitch Cycles Variations in Earth s axial tilt-obliquity Decrease tilt = decrease temperature variation between winter and summer T = ~41,000 years 3

4 Variations in Earth s axial wobble-precession Milankovitch Cycles Controls where in the orbit seasons occur T = 23,000-26,000 years δ 18 O record or climate change Eustatic Changes (Holocene Rise in Sea Level) 16 O lighter evaporates quicker trapped in ice sheets Maximum Extent of Ice Sheets Barrier Islands Organisms during ice age are enriched in 18 O Current and Projected Sea Level Changes CO 2 Trace Gasses and Global Climate Change Current background concentration = 370 ppm 4

5 Industrial Sources of Carbon Dioxide Burning of fossil fuels Deforestation (38 m.a/y) % CO 2 remains in the atmosphere IPCC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -established by the United Nations Environmental Program -assess the state of knowledge of human-induced climate change *surface temperatures increased 0.6 o C during the 20 th century *greatest per century temperature increase in the last 1000 yrs *most of the warming over the last 50 yrs is due to human activity *Snow cover and ice extent have decreased *Eustatic sea level has risen and ocean heat content has increased Uncertainty in Climate Change Climate-Feedback Mechanisms Positive: enhance change in the current direction Negative: stabilize the system, reduce change Ex. Warmer Surface Temperatures increase evaporation water vapor is a better absorber of outgoing radiation Possible Consequences Annual temperatures Precipitation Sea Level Flooding Droughts Storms Ex. Increased Aerosols reflect solar energy condensation nuclei make clouds brighter, increase albedo GCM Scenarios GG = greenhouse gasses GS = GG with sulfate aerosols Metro-East Coast Forecasts 5

6 IPCC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007 IPCC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007 Greenhouse Effect Transparent to incoming short wave solar radiation Selective absorption of outgoing long wave radiation by gasses CO 2, H 2 O 6

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