Tag Archives: sea level

Run from the rising waves! (The latest climate catastrophe scare)

Summary:  The past month has brought forth a sudden burst of studies using models to forecast an acceleration in rising sea levels, accompanied by alarmist new stories.  Here we review them, seeking the common element.

There has long been an odd pattern to climate science articles and news, appearing in groups with a common theme.  Such as the recent burst of articles forecasting an acceleration in the two-century long rise of sea levels (since the end of the Little Ice Age).

Coincidence?  Or is this a desperate Hail Mary pass to terrify a public that remains skeptical of anthropogenic-caused catastrophic climate change — despite 24 years of propaganda about the coming catastrophe (since the staged 1988 Senate hearings that started the crusade)?

In fact, despite the news media’s biased coverage, most aspects of climate change research lie on the frontier of available data and theory (as usual in science debates).  We may face climate catastrophes during the next four score years. These risks certainly deserve study, better funded and managed than the poorly organized scattershot programs done today (details here).  On the other hand, the evidence to date hardly warrants massive public policy action.

Sea level rising 3-4 times faster on East Coast. Global Warming Deniers shouting their denials through snorkels.
Twitter post by Roger Ebert (journalist, film critic, screenwriter). Hat tip to WUWT.

“I don’t believe the biggest fear for man-made climate change believers is the sea level rise”
— Reader’s comment posted in reply to Shaping your view of the world with well-constructed propaganda

(1)  A sudden storm of rising sea level stories

See the For More Information section at the end for links to other posts about rising sea levels.

Update: in the comments are descriptions of current research about rising sea levels.

(a)  The evidence for sea-level rises in North Carolina“, New Scientist, 20 June 2012 — A sensationalized article about “Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia“, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 5 July 2011 — “Holgate says the rise could be as much as 1.5 metres {59″} by 2100, but he says that is ‘an extreme upper end’”. See the analysis of the NS article here.

(b)  There are two sides to every debate:  “Elephant seals help uncover slower-than-expected Antarctic melting“, press release announcing “Two years of oceanic observations below the Fimbul Ice Shelf, Antarctica“, Tore Hattermann et al, Geophysical Research Letters, in press (ungated version here). Excerpt:

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Shaping your view of the world with well-constructed propaganda: about rising sea levels

Summary: Perhaps among the worst consequences of the anti-carbon crusade (fighting anthropogenic global warming and climate catastrophe) is the loss of confidence by the public in scientists and science media.  Many scientists have become advocates first, scientists second — abusing the public’s trust to produce what they consider desirable public policies.  Much of the science media — such as New Scientist and Scientific American — have become accomplices.  Here’s a case study, valuable for several reasons.

CGI is truth. Believe!

We will need science to guide us through the difficult years ahead, helping us to balance the conflicting needs of current growth, investments in the future, and protection against shockwaves.  We need to have confidence in scientists, and the journalists who convey their discoveries to us.  Their actions put this essential resource at risk.  Today we look at one example.  It’s useful both as an example of the skillful propaganda that fills our newspapers (from both left and right), but also as a look at an important climate change trend.

The evidence for sea-level rises in North Carolina“, New Scientist, 20 June 2012

Here are excerpts from the article, showing the truth behind the narrative.  The data in the article itself contradicts the story’s message.  Nor does it clearly compare the results of the different forecasting methods. The article opens misleadingly:

In one US state, it is now illegal for sea level rise to speed up. Although climate models predict that sea level rise will accelerate over the coming decades, North Carolina’s state senate has passed a bill saying that its Division of Coastal Management cannot “include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea level rise”.

The first line is either an insult or a joke (or the former pretending to be the latter).  Despite the gibe, extrapolation from history is a valid forecasting method.  This article refer to NC House Bill 819, which says:

The General Assembly does not intend to mandate the development of sea-level rise policy or rates of sea-level rise. … The Division of Coastal Management shall be the only State agency authorized to develop rates of sea-level rise and shall do so only at the request of the Commission. These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise.

Next, in the tradition of AGW propaganda, they start with an issue not in question (the bill explicitly refers to the rise in sea levels during the past century):

Are sea levels rising?

In the next section New Scientist discusses the main issue: forecasts of accelerating rate of increase in sea level.  But their own evidence shows a reasonable basis for doubting them:

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Looking into the past for guidance about warnings of future climate apocalypses

Summary:  As we tremble in fear at the forecasts of climate apocalypse in 2030, let’s not forget the horrific forecasts made in the past.  Such as this made in 1989 for conditions in 2010.

(1) James Hansen sees a flooded NYC in 2030

Stormy weather“, Suzy Hansen, Salon, 23 October 2001 — “Floods, droughts, hurricanes and disease outbreaks — an expert explains why climate changes give us yet another reason to find terror in the skies.”  Excerpt of her interview with Bob Reiss:

While doing research 12 or 13 years ago, I {Bob Reiss} met Jim Hansen, the {NASA} scientist who in 1988 predicted the greenhouse effect before Congress. I went over to the window with him and looked out on Broadway in New York City and said, “If what you’re saying about the greenhouse effect is true, is anything going to look different down there in 20 years?”

He looked for a while and was quiet and didn’t say anything for a couple seconds. Then he said, “Well, there will be more traffic.” I, of course, didn’t think he heard the question right. Then he explained, “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water. And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won’t be there. The trees in the median strip will change.” Then he said, “There will be more police cars.” Why? “Well, you know what happens to crime when the heat goes up.”

Not only is Manhattan not flooded, but crime is way down.  Hat tip on this to Steve Goddard.

Update: Reiss later corrected his remarks in this interview, but correctly describes what Hansen said in 1989 in his 2004 book The Coming Storm: Extreme Weather And Our Terrifying Future:

… the reporter would ask the scientist {Hansen}whether, if he was right, and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere really doubled, anything down there would look different because of it by 2030. Would average people notice any changes?

Hansen would say, “There will be more traffic on Broadway. … Because the West Side Highway will be under water. You might see Dutch engineers down there to build dikes.”

(2)  NASA forecasts for 2006 and 2011

Arctic Meltdown“, NASA press release, 27 February 2001:

The Arctic ice cap is melting at a rate that could allow routine commercial shipping through the far north in a decade and open up new fisheries. … It was in 1906, after centuries of attempts, that Roald Amundsen finally navigated the North-West Passage through the sea ice north of Canada. Even today, only specially strengthened ships can make the trip.

But in 10 years’ time, if melting patterns change as predicted, the North-West Passage could be open to ordinary shipping for a month each summer. And the Northern Sea Route across the top of Russia could allow shipping for at least two months a year in as little as five years.

The new routes will slash the distances for voyages between Europe and East Asia by a third, and open up new fisheries. The resulting boom in shipping could lead to conflicts, as nations try to enforce fisheries rules, prevent smuggling and piracy, and protect the Arctic environment from oil spills. To complicate matters, Russia and Canada consider their northern sea routes as national territory, while the US regards them as international waters.

… Peter Wadhams of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge agrees that the Arctic could soon open up. “Within a decade we can expect regular summer trade there,” he predicts.

Have faith.  Although their past predictions often have proved wrong, their current forecasts will prove to be reliable.

For more information about rising sea levels

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More about the forecast for flooded cities in the late 21st century

Summary:  Much of the efforts to fan climate hysteria rely on false descriptions of current climate science, most especially on the assertion of a consensus that does not exist.  The articles on the FM website puncture this simply and surely by showing a diversity of opinion expressed in presigious peer-reviewed journals about the history, causes, magnitude, and forecasts about global warming.  Much of this is hidden from the general public by the news media.   This post is another in that long series.  For a partial list of the these studies see the FM reference page Science & climate – studies & reports.

Rising sea levels are one of the most graphic and easily understood consequences of global warming.  Cities, even entire islands, submerged later in this century (per earlier warnings, even by 2010).  As shown in the posts below, the climate science literature offer little support for such extreme forecasts.  Coming out of the little ice age, sea levels have risen at a steady (if difficult to measure before satellites) rate for over a century.  Scientists debate if the melt rate is increasing (other than 10-20 year variations).  It’s cutting-edge science, far from consensus — and hence no basis for massive public policy changes.  This post describes the latest volley.

As usual, we’ll start with summary intended for a general audience before looking at the underlying study.

(1)  The simplest version

Climate Change: Are the Polar Ice Caps Melting Slower Than We Thought?“, Time, 9 September 2010 — Money quote: 

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Climate Armageddon postponed (again): the melting polar ice

Summary:  More good news!  The ice-melting apocalypse has been postponed.  Standby for the next dire emergency, coming soon.  A fearful people is an easy to rule people.

Steve Goddard reminds us about another instance of climate Armageddon postponed.  We see the usual script.  A short-term trend get extrapolated into dire warnings on the front page — and the news media either buries or ignores reversal of the trend.  In this case hysteria produced using the 2005-07 rapid melting of Greenland’s glaciers and 2007’s “record” low arctic sea ice (i.e., only from 1979)  — although total global sea ice remained, and remains, more-or-less stable.  Some examples, as illustrations:

Since then arctic sea ice has grown; see trends here).  Greenland’s glaciers stabilized, as reported at the Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union — Galloping Glaciers of Greenland Have Reined Themselves In“, Richard A. Kerr, Science, January 2009 — Excerpt:

Things were looking bad around southeast Greenland a few years ago. There, the streams of ice flowing from the great ice sheet into the sea had begun speeding up in the late 1990s. Then, two of the biggest Greenland outlet glaciers really took off, and losses from the ice to the sea eventually doubled. Some climatologists speculated that global warming might have pushed Greenland past a tipping point into a scary new regime of wildly heightened ice loss and an ever-faster rise in sea level.

So much for Greenland ice’s Armageddon. “It has come to an end,” glaciologist Tavi Murray of Swansea University in the United Kingdom said during a session at the meeting. “There seems to have been a synchronous switch-off ” of the speed-up, she said. Nearly everywhere around southeast Greenland, outlet glacier flows have returned to the levels of 2000. An increasingly warmer climate will no doubt eat away at the Greenland ice sheet for centuries, glaciologists say, but no one should be extrapolating the ice’s recent wild behavior into the future.

… Taken together, the data show “there’s a pattern of speeding up to maximum velocity and then slowing down since 2005,” Murray said. “It’s amazing; they sped up and slowed down together. They’re not in runaway acceleration. Something happened that has switched off ” the acceleration event of 2003 to 2005.

How fast is Greenland’s icecap melting?   How much does that raise global sea level?

 Answer:  18 thousandths of an inch per year.  From the abstract of “Partitioning Recent Greenland Mass Loss“, Michiel van den Broeke et al, Science, 13 November 2009:

Mass budget calculations, validated with satellite gravity observations [from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites], enable us to quantify the individual components of recent Greenland mass loss.  The total 2000–2008 mass loss of ~1500 gigatons, equivalent to 0.46 millimeters per year of global sea level rise, is equally split between surface processes (runoff and precipitation) and ice dynamics. Without the moderating effects of increased snowfall and refreezing, post-1996 Greenland ice sheet mass losses would have been 100% higher. … 

For more information about these things

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Should we worry about 2010′s near-record melting of sea ice?

Summary:   No.  It’s weather, not climate change.  Many of the people sounding the alarms know they are exaggerating the situation.  This is a follow-up to It’s time to worry (again) about disappearing arctic ice (8 June 2010); see that for excellent graphs of the long-term sea ice history.

We’re told that polar sea ice is shrinking at an unusually rapid rate this year, and global warming is responsible.  This would be disturbing — if it were true.  In fact it is much ado about nothing.


  1. Polar sea ice is not shrinking at an unusually rapid rate this year
  2. The major short-term factor affecting arctic sea ice loss:   the wind
  3. Soot, one of the major long-term factor melting polar ice
  4. Other posts about earth’s melting ice, an afterword, and contact information

(1)  Polar sea ice is not shrinking at an unusually rapid rate this year

As explained in the June post:

  • Earth has two poles.   Cryosphere Today shows the area of global sea ice today is aprox at the 1979-2010 average.  Arctic sea ice is low; antarctic sea ice is above average. 
  • The rate of annual shrinkage does not correlate well with the size of the annual minimum.
  • The record of sea ice area goes back to 1979. It is too short a basis on which to draw strong conclusions due to the existence of long climate rhythms.

(2)  The major short-term factor affecting arctic sea ice loss:   the wind

Wind strength and patterns cause much of the annual variation in the minimum area and extent of the arctic ice.

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Today’s good news, about rising sea levels

Summary:  There has been much evidence that the terrible tales of rising sea levels are exaggerated.  Slowly hard evidence emerges.


  1. Shape-shifting islands defy sea-level rise“, New Scientist, 2 June 2010
  2.  “The dynamic response of reef islands to sea level rise: evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the central pacific“, Arthur P. Webb and Paul S. Kench , Global and Planetary Change, in press
  3. Other articles about rising sea levels
  4. For more information, and an Afterword


 (1)  Shape-shifting islands defy sea-level rise“, New Scientist, 2 June 2010 — Excerpt:

For years, people have warned that the smallest nations on the planet – island states that barely rise out of the ocean – face being wiped off the map by rising sea levels. Now the first analysis of the data broadly suggests the opposite: most have remained stable over the last 60 years, while some have even grown.

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