Open-system coral ages reveal persistent suborbital sea-level cycles. Academic Article uri icon


  • Sea level is a sensitive index of global climate that has been linked to Earth's orbital variations, with a minimum periodicity of about 21,000 years. Although there is ample evidence for climate oscillations that are too frequent to be explained by orbital forcing, suborbital-frequency sea-level change has been difficult to resolve, primarily because of problems with uranium/thorium coral dating. Here we use a new approach that corrects coral ages for the frequently observed open-system behavior of uranium-series nuclides, substantially improving the resolution of sea-level reconstruction. This curve reveals persistent sea-level oscillations that are too frequent to be explained exclusively by orbital forcing.

publication date

  • April 15, 2005