Author Topic: sea level changes - late Roman and medieval period  (Read 11964 times)


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sea level changes - late Roman and medieval period
« on: July 30, 2010, 03:54:48 »

The sea level controversy

28 Jul 2010

Steve Mitchell in various editions of SIS journals has provided us with a lot of information about sea level changes in the late Roman era and again, in the medieval period, factors only just reaching the radar of your average archaeologist - and geologist. The wave theory of oscillating sea levels as a result of geoidal eustatic (palaeo-geoid) change is a theme of Nils-Axel Morner who wrote several papers on the subject in the 1970s and 1980s. He is quoted (in 1976) as saying Late Cenozoic sea level fluctuation can no longer be taken as a priori evidence of corresponding glacial volume changes (which impinges significantly on Ice Age theory). Significant palaeo-geoid changes have been recorded through the Pleistocene and the Holocene (see also Newman et al 1978). This origin can either be explained by changes at the core/mantle interface or by changes according to some hitherto unknown fundamental physical processes (which is the bit I like). Morner has collated numerous examples of geoidal eustatic (palaeo-geoid) change ranging from the Cretaceous up to the 20th century. Morner has also shown that Holocene sea level records are characterised by a geoidal eustatic cycle which coresponds with the geomagnetic field cycle and the atmosphere's C14 production cycle which indicates a mutual origin in core/mantle changes. He clearly was not thinking in terms of an extraterrestrial dimension. Unfortunately, using a search engine to look for papers of interest by Nils-Axel Morner it is a depressing exercise as all that comes up, it seems, are comments on blogs, mainly pro-AGW. It seems he became a bit of a hate figure for the audacity of questioning global warming predictions that sea levels would rise and drown coral atolls such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and various South Sea islands. The reason he objected was that we are nowhere near the estimated peak of the eustatic wave that he thinks underpins historical sea level changes. Basically, Morner, in his 80s, intruded on the chummy comfort zone of the greenies - they did not like the idea of doubt. It is after all a question of faith. Apparently, he has experimented with dowsing, a quite legitimate practise as I understand - but a dowser can't be a real scientist. Can he? Jonathan Porritt seems to think that anyone dowsing for water, a common practise up to the 20th century, is a charlatan - but he would know wouldn't he, being a toff and a scribbler.

 Morner's wave theory of eustatic sea level rise is of course uniformitarian and catastrophic change in sea levels is not part of his theory - hence, he favours gentle changes in the geiod as a feature of the Pleistocene and the Holocene. Yet, the possibility is there to enlarge upon his ideas as he is fully aware of very steep rises in sea level at 8000 years ago and a not so steep rise at 5000 years ago. Hence, anybody wanting to download papers by Nils-Axel Morner it is necessary to go to Google Scholar. This avoids the tiresome and irritating anti-Morner blogs that crop up on other search engines. However, one word of warning. His papers date to a period when C14 dates were much younger than they are now so it is neccessary to think in terms of earlier dates than those he supplies. I may do a post on this at some stage as there are some interesting modern parallels in the way C14 was adopted at face value and little research by the geological community and people that had based their chronology on such things as lake varves and coring became, overnight, persona non gratis and their reputations sullied. It was years later that it was found scientists had embraced C14 methodology too eagerly - or naively, and early methodology was found wanting. By that time it was too late for those scientists whose reputations had been ruined - but that is the way of science. No wonder they are frightened of putting their heads above the parapets.

As a footnote you might want to look at some recent research in the Maldives on the threat of sea level rise - go to,1518,druck-707884,00.html which discusses what geomorphologists have to say. They began by comparing old aerial photographs taken in WWII with satellite images and found, to their surpise, most of the atolls had either grown (corals are a life-form) or had remained the same, even though sea levels had risen by a few inches in the interregnum. This dates to 2007 and there was a rash of pro-AGW papers after that which claimed that sea levels would rise much faster than coral could grow. However, Speigel is at pains to point out there are very few specialists in this field. An exploration of the position in the Maldives was able to determine that the islands have only been in existence for around four or five thousand years. They consist of coral atolls that form on top of underwater mountains - usually volcanoes. The interesting part of this is the date - does it have any connection with other events around 3000BC or 2300BC? Has the geoid changed in order for the underwater mountains to obtain a near surface location ideal for colonisation by corals? Alternatively, before 5000 years ago the mountain or volcano may have been an island, rather than the coral reefs as it is now.

The sea level controversy |