By Evan

This week, there is a bevy of activity at RSES as we welcome Edouard Bard and Eelco J. Rohling to our department to discuss one of the great challenges of the 21st century – sea level rise. The scientists are on a stopover in the department before heading off to the IGC Congress in Brisbane next week.

First a bit on the scientists themselves. Edouard Bard is an expert on climate change and sea level change at the Collège de France. Perhaps his best known publication was the first absolute dated sea level change curve from Barbados, a location that is sufficiently far from high latitude ice sheets to record changes in ocean volume, for the past 130,000 years. This is a classic paper that anyone studying sea level change must read. Dr. Bard has also been involved in radiocarbon calibration methods, which must be applied to radiocarbon dates to convert them to calendar dates. He also has delved into the contentious issue of the effects of solar variation on climate, concluding that it is a secondary effect.

Before writing this entry, Eelco J. Rohling was someone whom I was less familiar with.  He is a professor at the University of Southampton, who studies climate proxies in ocean sediments, and sea level change. One of his most cited works is a publication detailing sea level change during the past 500,000 years. This paper gives an estimation of the maximum fall in sea level using changes in salinity in the Red Sea (i.e during glacial periods when sea level was lower, the salinity of the restricted Red Sea increased). Another paper that caught my eye by Dr. Rohling was this one that states there were similar contributions of sea level fall during the last glaciation from the ice sheets in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Edouard Bard will give the Jaeger-Hales lecture will be on Thursday afternoon. The event is open to the public, so sign up! The focus of the lecture will be on climate change during the last deglaciation, from 21,000 to 6000 years ago, and how it can be used as an analogue to present climate change.

The sea level rise forum is on Tuesday evening. It too is open the public, so anyone is free to attend. This forum involves a discussion of sea level change at three different time scales. The discussion by Dr. Rohling will focus on sea level change during the past 500,000 years. Dr. Bard’s presentation will be on sea level change during the last deglaciation (the past 21,000 years). The third presenter is Paul Tregoning, a professor at RSES (and my supervisor!), who will discuss modern sea level rise. I’m sure a lot of that will be observations by the GRACE satellites. I won’t give anything away, but I am assuming there will be an Australian component to this talk!