The Sea Level Scam

sea level nonsenseClimate alarmists put forth scary scenarios saying that carbon dioxide induced global warming is causing unprecedented and accelerating sea level rise which will drown our coastal cities and wipe out South Pacific Islands.

Measuring sea level is more complicated than pounding a stake into a beach. Sea level and the rate of rise or fall are subject to daily and seasonal variations, storm surges, and effects from decadal to multi-decadal oscillations such as El Niño. For instance, the west-blowing equatorial trade winds can pile up an extra foot of water in the western Pacific compared to the eastern Pacific. There are also tectonic events: is the ocean rising or is the land sinking? Pumping groundwater causes soil compaction and hence sinking land. Another complication: isostatic rebound of North America is tipping the northeast coast into the sea. (For a more detailed explanation of glacial isostacy see here.)

Let’s start with the big picture.

Since the end of the last glacial epoch, global sea level has risen 120 meters (393 feet), about one meter per century. Most of that was the result of melting of continental ice sheets between 18,000 and 8,000 years ago. The rate of sea level rise has leveled off to about 1- to 3 millimeters per year, about the thickness of two pennies.

post-glacial-sea-level-rise

Several recent studies show what is happening now:

Larsen and Clark (2006) studied the rate of sea level rise for the past 6,000 years, based on geologic evidence and the historic record. The researchers found that there has been no acceleration of sea level rise in response to increased temperature or CO2 levels.

Holgate (2007), using data from worldwide coastal tidal gauge records, shows that the rate of sea level rise is cyclical, but decreasing over the period studied. Specifically, the mean rate of global sea level rise was “larger in the early part of the last century (2.03 ± 0.35 mm/yr 1904-1953), in comparison with the latter part (1.45 ± 0.34 mm/yr 1954-2003).”

Sea-level-Holgate_update_fig1

Satellite measurement of the rate of sea level rise is reported at 3.2±0.4 mm/yr versus Holgate’s value of 1.45 mm/yr. It just so happens that satellite measurement started at the bottom of a cycle, thereby giving a false impression of the overall rate of rise. Because the rate of sea level rise is cyclical, it is easy to cherry-pick time intervals to suit an agenda.

Holgate does not address possible causes of the rate cycle. However, Kolker and Hameed (2007), report “a major fraction of the variability and the trend in mean sea level at key sites along the Atlantic Ocean are driven by shifts in the position and intensity of the major atmospheric pressure centers that reside over the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores High and the Icelandic Low,” which they refer to as atmospheric centers of action. Apparent sea level is also affected by variability of storms, winds, floods, waves, shifts in major ocean currents, volcanically-induced ocean heat content variations, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, subsidence, uplift, tectonics, and freshwater fluxes.

Houston and Dean (2011) analyzed the records of 57 U.S. tidal gauges for the period 1930 to 2010. They found “almost a balance with 30 gauge records showing deceleration and 27 showing acceleration, clustering around 0.0 mm/y. The mean is a slight deceleration of -0.0014 mm/yr.

In more recent research, Scafetta (2013), studied six long-term tidal gauge records sited to represent all of the world’s oceans. He found the rate of sea level rise “…to be characterized by significant oscillations at the decadal and multidecadal scales up to about 110-year intervals. Within these scales both positive and negative accelerations are found if a record is sufficiently long. This result suggests that acceleration patterns in tide gauge records are mostly driven by the natural oscillations of the climate system. The volatility of the acceleration increases drastically at smaller scales such as at the bi-decadal ones.”

“Tide gauge accelerations oscillate significantly from positive to negative values mostly following the PDO, AMO and NAO oscillations. In particular, the influence of a large quasi 60–70 year natural oscillation is clearly demonstrated in these records.”

A conclusion from the Scafetta paper has implications for climate model predictions: “at scales shorter than 100-years, the measured tide gauge accelerations are strongly driven by the natural oscillations of the climate system (e.g. PDO, AMO and NAO). At the smaller scales (e.g. at the decadal and bi-decadal scale) they are characterized by a large volatility due to significant decadal and bi-decadal climatic oscillations. Therefore, accelerations, as well as linear rates evaluated using a few decades of data (e.g. during the last 20-60 years) cannot be used for constructing reliable long-range projections of sea-level for the twenty first century.”

About those South Pacific Islands:

You may recall several years ago much press about Tuvalu and other South Pacific islands being endangered by rising sea level. For an example of some of the hype, see my October, 2011, post: “University of Arizona Dances with Sea Level.”

The Australian government has been monitoring sea level on Pacific islands with modern instruments since 1992. In the case of Tuvalu, they state, “If the depression of the 1998 cyclone is ignored, there was no change is sea level at Tuvalu between 1994 and 2009: 14 years. (See report of studies by Vincent Gray here.)

Finally, new research by Kench et al. (2015) finds that these same South Pacific islands, rather than sinking beneath the waves, have in fact been growing. Here is the abstract from their paper:

“The geological stability and existence of low-lying atoll nations is threatened by sea-level rise and climate change. Funafuti Atoll, in the tropical Pacific Ocean, has experienced some of the highest rates of sea-level rise (~5.1 ± 0.7 mm/yr), totaling ~0.30 ± 0.04 m over the past 60 yr. We analyzed six time slices of shoreline position over the past 118 yr at 29 islands of Funafuti Atoll to determine their physical response to recent sea-level rise. Despite the magnitude of this rise, no islands have been lost, the majority have enlarged, and there has been a 7.3% increase in net island area over the past century (A.D. 1897–2013). There is no evidence of heightened erosion over the past half-century as sea-level rise accelerated. Reef islands in Funafuti continually adjust their size, shape, and position in response to variations in boundary conditions, including storms, sediment supply, as well as sea level. Results suggest a more optimistic prognosis for the habitability of atoll nations and demonstrate the importance of resolving recent rates and styles of island change to inform adaptation strategies.” Source

In other words, the slow rise of 1- to 2 mm per year in global sea level is an artifact of our current interglacial period. Local sea level rise or fall depends on local geology, the amount of groundwater pumping in coastal areas, and the cyclic weather patterns. It has nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions.

But be warned: “Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.” -Will Durant

References:

Holgate, S.J. 2007. On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century. Geophysical Research Letters 34: 10.1029/2006GL028492

Houston, J.R. and Dean, R.G., 2011. Sea-level acceleration based on U.S. tide gauges and extensions of previous global-gauge analyses. Journal of Coastal Research, 27(3), 409–417. West Palm Beach (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208. (Source)

Kench et al., 2015, Coral islands defy sea-level rise over the past century: Records from a central Pacific atoll, Geological Society of America, in Geology Magazine, March 2015. (Source)

Kolker, A.S. and Hameed, S. 2007. Meteorologically driven trends in sea level rise. Geophysical Research Letters 34: 10.1029/2007GL031814

Larsen, C.E. and Clark, I. 2006. A search for scale in sea-level studies. Journal of Coastal Research 22: 788-800.

Scafetta, N., 2013, Multi-scale dynamical analysis (MSDA) of sea level records

versus PDO, AMO, and NAO indexes, Climate Dynamics, DOI 10.1007/s00382-013-1771-3.

See the full paper here.

Source

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Comments (22)

  • Avatar

    Richard Cain

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    Please do me a favour (yes, favo[u]u[/u]r. I live in the home of English – England).

    The vast majority of your followers / readers will, I am certain, already be convinced that the whole global warming / climate change ****fest is a scam.

    What I need from your blog is not reams of logic supporting yet another disclaimer with which I already agree (i.e. preaching to the converted), I need a max 100 word précis preceded by a max 35 character headline that doubts the catastrophe.

    I can then disseminate that attention grabber.

    Only then need the interested party read on.

    If I forwarded this latest post I’d have grabbed max 10 seconds of attention and guaranteed an automatic delete in future by any believer.

    Much as the alarmists keep harping on, we sceptics keep missing the point that we need to target those who are gullible non-sceptics (yes, sceptics – England, English ;-)).

    Reply

  • Avatar

    russ

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    Scientists warn of global warming or climate change as being responsible for rising oceans. Not being a scientist or having the data available to those scientists, I take a different approach.
    Science taught me that water can be displaced by a solid. Example; fill a cup full of water and drop a stone, or stones into the cup and some of the water will flow out of the cup. Or fill a cup half full then add rocks or sand and see if the water rises. Think for a moment, of the oceans as being huge cups.
    For centuries huge rivers have been emptying not only water but tons and tons of solids into the oceans, displacing water.
    Undersea, volcanoes are erupting huge amounts of lava into the waters, some building to the surface and above, displacing water.
    Elsewhere on land, volcanoes erupt and lava runs off into the sea, displacing water.
    Miles of oil pipelines and cables of various sorts lie upon the ocean floor, displacing water.
    Thousands of huge ships and oil platforms displace huge amounts of water.
    Land that once absorbed the rains has been paved or built upon and the rains diverted to the streams and rivers that lead to the oceans.
    These are non-technical happenings that everyone should be able to comprehend.
    My science tells me that if the oceans are not rising, something has gone haywire.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Alana

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      That would be a logical conclusion if the floor of the ocean were solid. Magma that erupts from the ocean floor is matter removed from under that same floor causing a miniscule sinking of the ocean basin, that same movement of magma drives plate tectonics causing continental uplift. If you want to be really picky the removal of the metals and stone from the land by human and geological processes removes weight from the continental crust which causes a rebound effect on the land allowing it to rise slightly. As for all your other additions, just to give you an idea of the scale involved, the sun evaporates about 250 TRILLION gallons of water from the oceans every day. The nearest equivalent I can think of is if you had a waterbed onto which you dumped a five gallon bucket of water. You could move the water around by pressing down on certain parts of the bed but every time you did other areas would simply rise out of the water.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      holden

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      And this has what to do with CO2?

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Alana

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        Absolutely nothing…it also has nothing to do with the price of rice in Spain. I was nattering with Russ over trivia. That is a good portion of the fun in life.

        Reply

  • Avatar

    GR82DRV

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    If there were any truth to rising oceans and if it was at all significant, it would be plain for all to see. Instead, we get selected scientists who are paid by the global warming industry telling us this is a crisis – essentially telling us all that we are too stupid to understand the data.

    I’m still waiting for all those epic hurricanes that were supposedly lined up at our doorstep ten years ago. I’m still not able to book my tropical cruise in the Arctic as Al Gore predicted. And every year the winters come earlier and last longer in the Midwest where I live. Last year our local ski hill held some snow until July!

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Luc Ozade

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    Aside from the two World Wars, I find it hard to think of any subject which has spawned so many books, articles and so many divergent views than Global Warming/Climate Change – and to what end?

    From the ever-increasing data that debunks the whole scam on every front on a daily basis, it must be obvious to any intelligent, logical-thinking person that science has nothing to do with it.

    It has become a purely political movement with followers as entrenched in the orthodoxy as any religious or political movement. The time and money which has been spent (or, I think wasted), on both sides, of this whole subject could, and SHOULD, have been better spent on finding solutions to REAL problems in our world, such as illnesses and diseases, poverty and wars.

    My hard drive is bulging with enough data (including now this one) to dismantle all and any false arguments put forward by followers of the Global Warming scam. I’m sure I am not alone in this respect.

    According to headlines (I didn’t bother to waste time reading the article) the latest Warmist’s excuse (which must now number in the 70s) for the ‘missing heat’ of the last 18+ years is that it is hiding at the bottom of the Indian Ocean! With 18+ years of stored heat in that ocean, I’m surprised that Al Gore hasn’t started a fried fish restaurant on its shores and simply employed a trawler to go and pick them up, ready for battering and selling!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      JayPee

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      The government does not want you to think that way.

      The msm will not PERMIT you to think that way.

      And remember
      The msm has the authority to dictate how you must think.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    Luc
    Quite right’ couldn’t agree more .
    A $$ Trillion industry based on nothing not even hot air .

    Reply

  • Avatar

    GR82DRV

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    Luc,
    + 1 on the wasted resources comment. This scam has reached [b]criminal[/b] proportions when we realize how those resources [i]could[/i] have been used to actually help mankind!

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Neal A. Brown, PhD

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    The rate of sea level rise, in mm/yr, is a velocity, not an acceleration.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Me

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      No it is a rate of comparison set by a standard of measurement.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    JayPee

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    Not trying to set up an argument.
    ( Believe it or not )

    Comparison is observing differences in scalar measurement.

    Evaluating a change in distance against a change in time is velocity.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Me

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      Exactly, and sea level can rise and can fall.

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Me

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        If it is a constant rise or a constant fall what would you call that?

        If it starts rising and continues to rise faster or starts to fall and falles faster what would call that?

        Reply

        • Avatar

          JayPee

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          It sounds like a ” wave ” function.

          Reply

          • Avatar

            Me

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            So now you can see it, almost. 😉

          • Avatar

            Me

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            You see I’m not telling you what to think, I’m leaveing that up to you to think for yourself from the standards that was set to measure things by.

          • Avatar

            JayPee

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            Fine

            There is no argument

            I think we all agree

            The only perfect language is equations.

          • Avatar

            Me

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            Ok then, you dealt with Drewski and just barely saw a bit of Danny. Have at it.

  • Avatar

    Alana

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    Absolutely nothing…it also has nothing to do with the price of rice in Spain. I was nattering with Russ over trivia. That is a good portion of the fun in life.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Saul Good

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    The hypocrisy of the left is what angers me:
    1) Equating “climate change” to the immediate threat of terror.
    2) They don’t practice what they preach… flying in private jets, driving SUVs, owning and operating homes that use our resources.
    3) Jumping to conclusions based on science that seems to be ever-changing, yet they preach that we not rush to judgement about Muslim violence when it turns out to be TRUE.
    4) Ignoring that the use of our resources saves lives. People can and have died from heat stroke and hypothermia. That’s a fact.
    5) Kerry’s take-down of refrigerants is like a farmer speaking out against GMOs while getting rich farming with them.

    Reply

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