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Benjamin Horton
Acting Chair
The Asian School of the Environment
College of Science

Prof Benjamin Horton joined NTU June 2017. In July 2018, he assumed the appointment of Chair, Asian School of the Environment. In 2019 he was awarded the President’s Chair in Earth Sciences.  In July 2020 he will be made Director of The Earth Observatory of Singapore.

Professor Horton was previously a Professor at Rutgers University and an Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Horton obtained his BA from the University of Liverpool, UK, and PhD from the University of Durham, UK.

Professor Horton has won a number of awards in his career. For excellence in research, he has received awards from European Geosciences Union (Plinius Medal), American Geophysical Union (Voyager Award) and the Geological Society of America (W. Storrs Cole Award). He was made a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2013 and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2018. Professor Horton was an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report and is a Review Editor for the new 6th Assessment Report. Professor Horton’s research was cited by President Obama in his 2015 State of the Union Address at the United States Capitol on January 20th 2015.

Professor Horton has published over 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including 26 articles in high profile journals such as Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Geology. Professor Horton is supervising or has supervised 24 students to the degree of PhD and 20 postdoctoral scientists, of which 15 now have permanent academic positions.

Professor Horton’s research concerns sea-level change. He aims to understand and integrate the external and internal mechanisms that have determined sea-level changes in the past, and which will shape such changes in the future. Professor Horton’s research impacts upon important ecological, ethical, social, economic and political problems specifically facing coastal regions.

Research Statement

By the end of the 21st century up to 1 billion people worldwide will live along low elevation coastal zones. These low-lying coastal regions vulnerable to changes in sea level brought about by climate change, storms or earthquakes. My research concerns sea-level change. I aim to understand and integrate the external and internal mechanisms that have determined sea-level changes in the past, and which will shape such changes in the future. My findings therefore impact upon important ethical, social, economic and political problems specifically facing such coastal regions.

Research One-liner

My research uncovers fundamental knowledge about how sea level has changed in the past and how it may change in the future

Publications

Kemp, A.C., Horton, B.P., Donnelly, J.P., Mann, M.E., Vermeer, M. and Rahmstorf, S., 2011. Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 11017-11022.

I was able to produce the first continuous sea-level reconstruction for the past 2,000 years and compared variations in global temperature to changes in sea level over this time period. My team found that since the late 19th century sea level has risen by more than 2 millimeters per year, which is the steepest rate for more than 2100 years. The paper was led by my graduate student Andrew Kemp who is now an Associate Professor with tenure.

Khan, N.S., Horton, B.P., Engelhart, S.E., Rovere, A., Vacchi, M., Ashe. E.L., Törnqvist, T.E., Dutton, A., Hijma, M.P., Shennan, I., and the HOLSEA working group, 2019. Inception of a global atlas of sea levels since the Last Glacial Maximum. Quaternary Science Reviews, 220, 359-371.

I have implemented standardized approaches to data collection and analysis to facilitate correlation between studies carried out at disparate sites. I thus established the first database of deglacial sea-level changes for the UK, southeast Asia; North American Atlantic and Pacific Coast, the Caribbean, Arctic Russia, and western Europe. which have provided new insights into glacial isostatic adjustment, compaction of sediments and 20th century sea-level rise. This work culminated in a special issue of a peer reviewed journal which was led by my graduate student Nicole Khan who is now an Assistant Professor.

Horton, B.P., Khan, N.S., Cahill, N., Lee, J.S.H., Shaw, T.S., Garner, A.J., Kemp, A.C., Engelhart, S.E., Rahmstorf, S., 2020. Estimating global mean sea-level rise and its uncertainties by 2100 and 2300 using an expert survey. npj Climate and Atmospheric Science. 10.1038/s41612-020-0121-5

The complexity of sea-level projections, and the sheer amount of relevant scientific publications, make it difficult for policymakers to get an overview of the state of the science. To obtain this overview, it is useful to survey leading experts on the expected sea-level rise, which provides a broader picture of future scenarios and informs policymakers so they can prepare necessary measures. The study used projections by more than 100 international experts for the global mean sea-level changes under two climate scenarios – low and high emissions. By surveying a wide range of leaders in the field, the study offers broader assurance about its projections for the ranges of future sea-level rise. In a scenario where global warming is limited to 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the experts estimated a rise of 0.5 metres by 2100 and 0.5 to 2 metres by 2300. In a high-emissions scenario with 4.5 degree Celsius of warming, the experts estimated a larger rise of 0.6 to 1.3 metres by 2100 and 1.7 to 5.6 metres by 2300.

Latest Projects

Tier3. Southeast Asia SEA-Level program (SEA2)

The SouthEast Asia SEA-level program (SEA2) will integrate instrumental, historical and geological sea-level datasets in Southeast Asia with sophisticated modeling capabilities to improve the accuracy of projections of sea-level rise and extreme sea levels, and to communicate the results to the scientific community, governmental agencies and the public. SEA2 will assemble a multi-disciplinary team to train a home-grown scientific community that can respond to Singapore and Southeast Asia’s need for future sea-level projections and their interpretation. SEA2 has identified five specific objectives to meet the challenge of understanding global and regional sea-level rise and extreme sea levels

Other affiliation(s)

Expert Areas
Sea-level change and climate change; earthquakes and tsunamis; tropical cyclones and storms

Research Interests

Research Category
Natural Sciences
Research Sub-category
Earth Sciences & Engineering
NISTH Assigned Topic Groupings
Circular economy & waste reduction
Affiliated Sustainable Development Goals

Not listed yet.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
Last Updated
29 May 2020
Last Updated
13 Sep 2020