Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms

The focus for our paper developed in 2007, when the first author (JH) read several papers by co-author P. Hearty. Hearty used geologic field data to make a persuasive case for rapid sea level rise late in the prior interglacial period to a height + 6–9 m relative to today, and he presented evidence of strong storms in the Bahamas and Bermuda at that time. Hearty’s data suggested violent climate behavior on a planet only slightly warmer than today.

Our study was designed to shed light on, or at least raise questions about, physical processes that could help account for the paleoclimate data and have relevance to ongoing and future climate change. Our assumption was that extraction of significant information on these processes would require use of and analysis of (1) climate modeling, (2) paleoclimate data, and (3) modern observations. It is the combination of all of these that helps us interpret the intricate paleoclimate data and extract implications about future sea level and storms.