Extending instrumental sea-level records using coral microatolls, an example from Southeast Asia

Publication type

Journal Article

Research Area


Research Team

Sea Level Research


The small number of reliable long-term (i.e., 50 yrs) tide gauges in tropical locations is a major source of uncertainty in modern sea-level change. Coral microatolls record relative sea-level (RSL) change over their lifetimes and have the potential to extend the instrumental record. Here, we examined a 20th and 21st century RSL record from two living coral microatolls from Mapur Island, Indonesia, which produced 16 sea-level index points. We validated and combined the living coral microatoll data with tide gauge data to show RSL at Mapur Island was 0.0 ± 1.6 mm/yr (2σ) from 1915 to 1990 and 1.0 ± 2.1 mm/yr (2σ) from 1990 to 2019. Through the addition of microatoll RSL data we extended the record of modern sea-level change by over 50 years and reduced its uncertainty by ∼50%.


Coral Microatolls, Sea-level change, Sea-level index points, Tide Gauges

Publication Details


Geophysical Research Letters

Date Published



Article Number


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