(NaturalNews) Geological data from the Yucatan Peninsula reveals that the Earth's sea levels can rise dramatically over a much shorter time period than researchers had previously believed, according to a study conducted by researchers from Mexico's National University and published in the journal Nature.
Researchers took advantage of the fact that Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula has remained nearly free of seismic activity for the past several hundred thousand years. Examining the remains of coral reefs, the scientists were able to estimate sea levels over time by looking at changes in the heights of the contiguous reef crests, which develop only close to the water's surface. They found that 121,000 years ago, sea levels in that region jumped dramatically over the course of only a few decades.
"We are looking at a three meter [10 foot] rise in 50 years," said lead researcher Paul Blanchon. "This is the first evidence that we have for rapid change in sea level during that time."
The study period corresponds to a time when the Earth was between ice ages, as it is today. According to Blanchon, only the collapse of polar ice sheets could cause sea levels to jump so radically so quickly.
"Scientists have tended to assume that sea level reached a maximum during the last interglacial very slowly, over several millennia," Blanchon said. "What we are saying is 'no, they didn't'."
The findings have alarming implications for the future, implying that sea levels may rise much faster due to global warming than scientists have assumed.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted sea level rises of up to 59 centimeters (23) inches by 2100 solely due to the expansion of ocean water as it warms. Any increases from melting glacial ice would only add to this.
Even 59 centimeters increase would be enough to displace tens of millions of people.
During the last interglacial period before the current one, the Earth's sea levels peaked at six meters higher than current levels.
Source - www.naturalnews.com