Field of Science

Global Sea Temperatures As High As Never In Last 800,000 Years

The sea surface temperatures (SST) of the last interglacial, some 129,000 to 116,000 years ago, were similar to temperatures we are approaching nowadays. The Eemian was one of the warmest interglacial periods, short pulses of rapid warming during the longer ice ages, in the last 800,000 years. Sea level was 19 to 29ft higher as today as large portions of the polar ice melted. Until now the correlating sea temperatures were debated. A now published paper analyzed 104 previous publications dealing with sea surface temperatures in the past and as recorded in marine sediments. The temperatures were compared to modern reference periods spanning from 1870-1889 and 1995-2014.
At the beginning of the Eemian, 129,000 years ago,  SST were similar to the 1870-1889 period. 4,000 years later the temperature rose by 0.5°C with values similar to the second modern reference period from 1995-2004. The results suggest that most models underestimated the rate of modern sea surface temperatures rise in response to man-made climate change and that SST will still significantly rise in the future. With higher temperatures also the ice will melt as happened during the Eemian. A sea level rise of at least 19 to 29ft will significantly impact coasts all over the planet.

In the Dolomites during the Eemian temperatures were so high that vegetation could be found 3,200ft higher than today, this cave with cave bear remains was at the time probably surrounded by a forest, providing sustainment to the bears.

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