Relative sea level

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Revision as of 20:37, 14 May 2008 by AnnaKroon (talk | contribs) (Response of the coastal system to sea level changes)

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Definition of Relative sea level:
Relative sea level is the sea level related to the level of the continental crust. Relative sea level changes can thus be caused by absolute changes of the sea level and/or by absolute movements of the continental crust [1].
This is the common definition for Relative sea level, other definitions can be discussed in the article

Causes of relative sea level changes

Relative sea level change due to absolute changes of the sea level:

  • Melting/freezing of the icecaps due to global temperature change;
  • Expansion/contraction of the total water mass due to global temperature change.

Relative sea level change due to absolute changes of the continental crust:

  • Unloading of the continental crust due to melting of the ice caps causes a rise of the formerly covered areas and a sink of adjacent areas that were not covered;
  • Tectonic activity;
  • Regional subsidence due to compaction and drainage.

Response of the coastal system to sea level changes

The response of the coast to sea level changes can be classified as a regressive coast, transgressive coast, prograding coast and retrograding coast.

See Also


  1. d’Angremond K., Pluim-Van der Velden E.T.J.M. (2001) Introduction to coastal engineering. P.18-19.
The main author of this article is Anna Kroon
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Anna Kroon (2008): Relative sea level. Available from [accessed on 20-09-2019]