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Sea Level Change

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Introduction

Sea Level Change a) Describe the processes of isostatic and eustatic sea level change Both isostatic and eustatic changes relate to oscillations of sea level on local, regional or global scale. Eustatic changes are the result of an increase or decrease in global water volume and isostatic changes involve changes in the height of the land relative to the sea. A "hot spot" for isostatic and eustatic change is during ice ages. During the last ice age, approximately 18,000 years BP, it was thought that sea levels were up to 150 metres below what they are at today meaning that it was possible to walk to France or Ireland. This was due to glacio-eustaticy, when water is frozen and turned into ice caps which cover land mass, causing a massive drop in sea levels. ...read more.

Middle

Another cause of isostatic readjustment is tectonic activity. For example, in Papua New Guinea, coral terraces were formed when uplift from the plates, caused a drop in the relative sea level, exposing what were once, submerged coral reefs. Climate changes are a secondary influence on sea level change, but as we can see from current affairs this type of influence is becoming more and more controversial, thanks to global warming and the greenhouse effect. In terms of the greenhouse effect, an increase in global temperatures will cause the thermal expansion of water and an increase in the rate of melting of ice caps also leading to an increase in sea level. b) Using named examples, explain how isostatic and eustatic sea level changes give rise to distinctive coastal landforms. ...read more.

Conclusion

A before and after diagram of a Ria is feature below. The same thing can occur with glacial valleys which were formed during the ice age further north. In areas such as Scandinavia, fjords are very common and these are simply flooded glacial troughs. Other landforms include deposition features such as barrier beaches, spits and dunes which retreat in land as eustatic change takes place. As sea level rises, barrier beaches, dunes and tombolos can be submerged if the rise is big enough. These landforms become sand bars such as Pole Sands. These sand bars then provide sediment to build another landform onshore. For dunes, the slacks separating different successions of dunes can flood so that the fore dunes form a barrier beach, cut of from the dune behind. As a result the dunes behind are now the fore dunes and so a succession begins again as the climax vegetation retreats inland as the dune system builds again. ...read more.

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