The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Letters to Nature: Magnitudes of sea-level lowstands of the past 500,000 years

Rohling, E.J., Fenton, M., Jorissen, F.J., Bertrand, P., Ganssen, G. and Caulet, J.P. (1998) Letters to Nature: Magnitudes of sea-level lowstands of the past 500,000 years Nature, 394, (6689), pp. 162-165. (doi:10.1038/28134).

Record type: Article


Existing techniques for estimating natural fluctuations of sea level and global ice-volume from the recent geological past exploit fossil coral-reef terraces or oxygen-isotope records from benthic foraminifera. Fossil reefs reveal the magnitude of sea-level peaks (highstands) of the past million years, but fail to produce significant values for minima (lowstands) before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) about 20,000 years ago, a time at which sea level was about 120 m lower than it is today1, 2, 3, 4. The isotope method provides a continuous sea-level record for the past 140,000 years (ref. 5) (calibrated with fossil-reef data6), but the realistic uncertainty in the sea-level estimates is around 20 m. Here we present improved lowstand estimates—extending the record back to 500,000 years before present—using an independent method based on combining evidence of extreme high-salinity conditions in the glacial Red Sea with a simple hydraulic control model of water flow through the Strait of Bab-el-Mandab, which links the Red Sea to the open ocean. We find that the world can glaciate more intensely than during the LGM by up to an additional 20-m lowering of global sea-level. Such a 20-m difference is equivalent to a change in global ice-volume of the order of today's Greenland and West Antarctic ice-sheets.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 9 July 1998


Local EPrints ID: 50097
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: 0097a678-27dc-4638-9b0f-169299542ccc
ORCID for E.J. Rohling: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 23 Jan 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:53

Export record



Author: E.J. Rohling ORCID iD
Author: M. Fenton
Author: F.J. Jorissen
Author: P. Bertrand
Author: G. Ganssen
Author: J.P. Caulet

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.