A probabilistic assessment of sea level variations within the last interglacial stage
The last interglacial stage (LIG; ca. 130–115 ka) provides a relatively recent example of a world with both poles characterized by greater-than-Holocene temperatures similar to those expected later in this century under a range of greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Previous analyses inferred that LIG mean global sea level (GSL) peaked 6–9 m higher than today. Here, we extend our earlier work to perform a probabilistic assessment of sea level variability within the LIG highstand. Using the terminology for probability employed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports, we find it extremely likely (95 per cent probability) that the palaeo-sea level record allows resolution of at least two intra-LIG sea level peaks and likely (67 per cent probability) that the magnitude of low-to-high swings exceeded 4 m. Moreover, it is likely that there was a period during the LIG in which GSL rose at a 1000-yr average rate exceeding 3 m kyr−1, but unlikely (33 per cent probability) that the rate exceeded 7 m kyr−1 and extremely unlikely (5 per cent probability) that it exceeded 11 m kyr−1. These rate estimates can provide insight into rates of Greenland and/or Antarctic melt under climate conditions partially analogous to those expected in the 21st century.