Project Title: Sea Level History of the Bermuda Sea Mount

The latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change confirms that global warming induced by human activity is a real phenomenon and not simply perturbations in natural climate variability. Sea level rise due to global warning is estimated to be about 0.5m or more over the next century. When coupled with increased storm severity (also a consequence of climate change) sea level rise will have enhanced adverse effects on coastlines around the world. The United Nations has declared that the impact on small islands will be most significant in terms of environmental, social and economic adversity.

Bermuda is no exception. The island has seen accelerated erosion of its coastline over the past decade. By understanding the impact of anticipated sea level rise on the island more effective means of adaptation can be implemented to minimize the effect of climate change.

Both Bermuda and Canada are subject to the consequences of climate change impacts on the Atlantic Ocean. Results of sea level history studies in Bermuda provide an important calibration for the East Coast of Canada, which is also suffering the negative impacts of rising sea level.

The Geological Survey of Canada Atlantic has developed an unique capability to generate georeferenced topographic maps of the seabed - baseline information required for any assessment of sea level rise. In addition, a Canadian Company, Solutions Inc., has developed an unique shallow water multibeam system for imaging the seabed in coastal environments. Both these capabilities will be used to conduct this research project.

Research Project
The objective of this project is to apply unique Canadian scientific and technical expertise and technology to investigating the history of sea level rise of the Bermuda seamount over the past 20,000 years. Correlating the geological history of sea level rise with the predicted accelerated rise caused by climate change will provide a more reliable estimate of future sea level rise for Bermuda. This will, in turn, yield an improved calibration curve for Eastern Canada.

Gurnet Rock Drowned Forest

The interlocking root system and lower stump sections of four Red Cedar trees are located in 30 feet of water just inside Gurnet Rock off the southeast of Bermuda. The roots and stumps are the remnants of a Cedar forest that grew in the area prior to 7,290 years before 2000 when the sea level was at least 30 feet lower than the present day level. The investigation of the drowned forest is part of the Bermuda Sea Level Study conducted by the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, the Geological Survey of Canada and the New England Aquarium.

Teddy Tucker and Steve Blasco (Chief Scientists)..

Public Awareness

Results of this research will be incorporated into a new sea level exhibit at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. Research results will be published in scientific and technical journals. Public awareness is an important product of this project. Through Dr. Greg Stone, New England Aquarium, research activities will be video taped and used to create both video and still presentation materials for public education and presentations on the results of the project. It is important for the public to understand the nature and impact of sea level rise and its relation to global climate change.

Project Responsibilities

The Geological Survey of Canada Atlantic will provide the scientific and technical expertise to conduct the project, the navigation and bathymetric survey equipment for the field program and the GIS capability to generate georeferenced topographic maps of sites under investigation. Steve Blasco will coordinate GSCA responsibilities.

Teddy Tucker will identify sites for sea level investigation, provide scientific guidance, and research platforms for both shallow water and deep-water site investigations. Wendy Tucker will coordinate Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute responsibilities

The New England Aquarium will incorporate the results of the sea level investigations into public awareness of the research through educational video documentation for public dissemination. Greg Stone will coordinate NEA responsibilities.