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Science. 2001 Apr 27;292(5517):679-86.

Sea level change through the last glacial cycle.

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Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra 0200, Australia.


Sea level change during the Quaternary is primarily a consequence of the cyclic growth and decay of ice sheets, resulting in a complex spatial and temporal pattern. Observations of this variability provide constraints on the timing, rates, and magnitudes of the changes in ice mass during a glacial cycle, as well as more limited information on the distribution of ice between the major ice sheets at any time. Observations of glacially induced sea level changes also provide information on the response of the mantle to surface loading on time scales of 10(3) to 10(5) years. Regional analyses indicate that the earth-response function is depth dependent as well as spatially variable. Comprehensive models of sea level change enable the migration of coastlines to be predicted during glacial cycles, including the anthropologically important period from about 60,000 to 20,000 years ago.


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