Figures marked "CSIRO", are copyright CSIRO, but please feel free to use them, conditional on the figures not being altered, and their source being acknowledged, and with a link to this site where possible.

All other figures are copyright. Please do not copy without the owner's permission.

Historical sea level CHANGES

Long term


A very brief history of sea level:

  • Over the last 140,000 years sea level has varied over a range of more than 120 metres. The most recent large change was an increase of more than 120 metres as the last ice age ended
  • Sea level stabilised over the last few thousand years, and there was little change between about 1AD and 1800AD
  • Sea level began to rise again in the 19th century and accelerated again in the early 20th century
  • Satellite altimeter measurements show a rate of sea-level rise of about 3 mm/year since the early 1990s - a further increase in the rate


The last 140,000 years

Sea level varied by over 100 metres during glacial-interglacial cycles as the major ice sheets waxed and waned as a result of changes in summer solar radiation in high northern hemisphere latitudes. Paleo data from corals indicate that sea level was 4 to 6 m (or more) above present day sea levels during the last interglacial period, about 125 000 years ago.