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Sea-level rise said highest in milennia

Researchers say rising global temperatures have led to the fastest sea-level rise in the past 2,000 years

PHILADELPHIA (UPI) | June 22, 2011

U.S. and international researchers say rising global temperatures have led to the fastest sea-level rise in the past 2,000 years.

University of Pennsylvania scientists say their research has shown that the rate of sea-level rise along the U.S. Atlantic Coast is greater than at any time in the past two millennia and is linked to changes in global mean surface temperature, a university release reported Monday.

"Sea-level rise is a potentially disastrous outcome of climate change, as rising temperatures melt land-based ice and warm ocean waters," Benjamin Horton, director of Penn's Sea Level Research Laboratory, said. "Scenarios of future rise are dependent upon understanding the response of sea level to climate changes."

Researchers compared variations in global temperature to changes in sea level during the past 2,000 years and found that sea level has risen by more than 2 millimeters per year on average since the late 19th century, the steepest rate for more than 2,100 years.

"The data from the past help to calibrate our model and will improve sea-level rise projections under scenarios of future temperature rise," Penn researcher Stefan Rahmstorf said.

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