Sea-level rises and falls as Earth's giant ice sheets shrink and grow. It has been thought that sea level around 81,000 years ago—well into the last glacial period—was 15 to 20 meters below that of today and, thus, that the ice sheets were more extensive. Dorale et al. (p. 860; see the Perspective by Edwards) now challenge this view. A speleothem that has been intermittently submerged in a cave on the island of Mallorca was dated to show that, historically, sea level was more than a meter above its present height. This data implies that temperatures were as high as or higher than now, even though the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was much lower.
Jeffrey A. Dorale,1,* Bogdan P. Onac,2,* Joan J. Fornós,3 Joaquin Ginés,3 Angel Ginés,3 Paola Tuccimei,4 David W. Peate1. 2010. Sea-Level Highstand 81,000 Years Ago in Mallorca. Science, 12 (327) no. 5967, pp. 860 - 863.
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