Sea level rise is a key consequence of climate change that appears to be accelerating globally. Understanding the rate of relative sea level change is important because many of the world's most populous cities are either sited on low lying coastal areas or on the banks of estuaries that are potentially susceptible to sea flooding. Although current sea level can be inferred from modern instrumental records (tide-gauge and satellite) these records do not extend very far back in the past, thus measurement of past sea level rise is required to provide a context to frame recent acceleration. The BGS laboratories are contributing to our understanding of sea level change over the last ~10 000 years (Holocene epoch) by examining the geochemical records preserved in salt marsh and mangrove peats as well as marine sediments at national and international sites, including the Thames estuary.
Investigations of Holocene sea-level change using carbon isotope signatures and C/N ratios of organic matter from estuarine sediments.