Sea level in Roman time in the Central Mediterranean and implications for recent change

Kurt Lambeck, Marco Anzidei, Fabrizio Antonioli, Alessandra Benini, Alessandra Esposito

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197 Citations (Scopus)


Instrumental records indicate that ocean volumes during the 20th century have increased so as to raise eustatic sea level by ∼1-2 mm/year and the few available records suggest that this is higher than for the previous century. Geological data indicate that ocean volumes have increased since the main phase of deglaciation about 7000 years ago but whether this continued into the recent past remains unclear. Yet, this is important for establishing whether the recent rise is associated with global warming or is part of a longer duration non-anthropogenic signal. Here, we present results for sea-level change in the central Mediterranean basin for the Roman Period using new archaeological evidence. These data provide a precise measure of local sea level of -1.35±0.07 m at 2000 years ago. Part of this change is the result of ongoing glacio-hydro isostatic adjustment of the crust subsequent to the last deglaciation. When corrected for this, using geologically constrained model predictions, the change in eustatic sea level since the Roman Period is -0.13±0.09 m. A comparison with tide-gauge records from nearby locations and with geologically constrained model predictions of the glacio-isostatic contributions establishes that the onset of modern sea-level rise occurred in recent time at ∼100±53 years before present. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563 - 575
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics

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