Sea Level and Biogeography
Monday, March 9, 2009 8:22:25 PM
For most of the past few million years, the shallow ocean shelf surrounding the peninsula and islands of Malaysia and Indonesia has been exposed, creating a land area about the size of Europe. That habitat shrank dramatically each time sea levels rose.
The map shows the situation sixteen thousand years ago, when surrounding seas were 110 meters lower than today. Massive ice sheets covered parts of North America, northern Europe, and several other regions during the last ice age. This huge volume of ice lowered global sea level by around 120 meters as compared to today. After the ice sheets began to melt and retreat, sea level rose rapidly, with several periods of even faster spurts.
The figure shows a generalised curve of sea level rise since the last ice age.
The closing of the “Indonesian Seaway” (east of Borneo/Kalimantan) has by the way been seen as triggering the Ice Ages.