The cause of rapid sea level rise in the past has been found by scientists at the University of Bristol using climate and ice sheet models. The process, named 'saddle-collapse', was found to be the cause of two rapid sea level rise events: the Meltwater pulse 1a (MWP1a) around 14,600 years ago and the '8,200 year' event. The research is published July 11 in Nature. Using a climate model, Dr Lauren Gregoire of Bristol's School of Geographical Sciences and colleagues unearthed the series of events that led to saddle-collapse in which domes of ice over North America became separated, leading to rapid melting and the opening of an ice free corridor. Evidence of these events has been recorded in ocean cores and fossil coral reefs; however, to date the reason behind the events was unclear and widely debated.