Late Quaternary meltwater pulses and sea level change

Stephan Harrison, David E. Smith, Neil Glasser

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)
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After the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) global mean sea level (GMSL) rise was characterized by rapid increases over short (decadal to centennial) timescales superimposed on a longer term secular rise and these have been termed meltwater pulses (MWPs). In this paper we review the timing, impact and nature of these and the effects of rapid drainage of large post‐glacial MWPs into the world's oceans. We identify nine MWPs, four of which occurred in three periods of rapid sea level rise (19.5–18.8, 14.8–13.0 and 11.5–11.1 ka BP). The rest are dated to the period during the Early Holocene sea level rise after 11 ka BP. We show that drainage of the known post‐glacial lakes in total produced less than around 1.2 m of the 125 m of GMSLR since the LGM
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number1
Early online date16 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2019


  • Last Glacial Maximum
  • global mean sea level
  • meltwater pulse


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