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01/15/2013

DSSS: Taking the Fingerprints of Global Sea Level Change

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Jerry X. Mitrovica is a Professor of Geophysics at Harvard University and the Director of the Earth Systems Evolution Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. His research focuses on sea level changes over time scales ranging from the last decade to the age of the Earth. He is the recipient of the Rutherford Memorial Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, The Steacie Prize from the National Research Council and the Augustus Love Medal from the European Geosciences Union. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and, in 2007, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is a former J. Tuzo Wilson Professor at the University of Toronto, and was a Visiting Miller Professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Abstract:  Sea level is a sensitive indicator of climate change, both in the modern world and across geological time. In this regard, all processes that contribute to observed sea-level changes, whether on plate tectonic time scales of millions of years, ice age time scales of thousands of years, or decadal time scales associated with recent global climate change, have distinct geometric signatures. Thus, insight into the underlying processes responsible for sea level change is fundamentally deepened when analyses move beyond simple global averages to consider the detailed geographic variation in geological or geodetic observations. In this talk I will consider examples of this insight from across a broad spectrum of time scales, but I will focus, in particular, on the fingerprints of sea level change in our progressively warming world.