Tag Archives: sea level

The seas are rising, and have been over ten thousand years. What comes next?

Summary: The world has been warming for the past two centuries, and the oceans have been rising for over ten millenia. The urgent task of climate scientists is to determine if these trends will accelerate, and if so by how much and when. Here we look at the history of rising seas, and what the new IPCC report warns us to expect. Rising seas are one of the most vivid and potentially most important of the climate changes expected during the 21st century.


Here are other posts in this series about second order draft (SOD) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

And this from earlier reports: When did we start global warming? See the surprising answer (it’s not what you’ve been told).



  1. Introduction
  2. Long-term sea levels, based on proxy data
  3. The past century (direct measurements,
    moderately reliable)
  4. Recent (reliable direct measurement)
  5. IPCC forecasts of the future
  6. For More Information about rising sea levels

About measurements: one inch = 25 mm = 0.025 meter

(1) Introduction

In this series we look at the latest work of the IPCC to see what the news media have hidden from us about the results of climate scientists. The world has been warming for two centuries, as all agree. But so much else they’ve told us is not accurate. Mostly due to their exaggerations, misrepresentations and omissions of the IPCC’s work — and the peer-reviewed literature on which it rests.

As we see in the comments to previous posts, this produces odd situation — increasingly common in today’s New America, with its broken OODA loop — of well-educated people astonished to learn what climate scientists have said for many years — because during that time they’ve read quite different things in the news media. Show them the text, the data — and watch the resulting incredulous shock.

The same process will happen the Right, as those on they (eg, the Tea Party) learn they rely on sources that lie to them. The surprise 2012 election results might have started this process. The results of these collisions between facts and dogma will play a large role in determining the fate of 21st century America.

Now, let’s turn to the seas. First we’ll look at sea levels over various time horizons. Then we’ll look at the latest IPCC report.

(2) Long-term sea levels, based on proxy data

From “Sea-level fluctuations during the last glacial cycle“, M. Siddall et al, Nature, 19 June 2003 — Gated.

Nature, 19 June 2003


(3) The past century (direct measurements, more reliable)

From the EPA’s Climate Change Indicators page:

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IPCC says “It is likely that the sea level rise has accelerated”. The evidence is flimsy, showing a larger problem.

Summary:  Today we look at a weakness in the latest IPCC report, that illustrates a larger problem in the climate sciences.

Other posts in this series about second order draft (SOD) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).



  1. A weakness of the IPCC’s process
  2. This shows a far larger weakness in the climate sciences
  3. For More Information About Rising Sea Levels

(1)  A weakness of the IPCC’s process

The IPCC gets better” post lists some weaknesses of IPCC procedures, including this:

Mockton’s review also has long (very long) lists of peer-reviewed science overlooked by the IPCC (and ignored by the news media), because it ruins the narrative. This goes to the most serious criticisms of the IPCC: it’s narrow selection of sources, and blindness to many threads of research in the climate sciences.

… {this is} systematic misstating by IPCC authors of the climate science literature (eg, chapter lead authors often showcasing their own work and ignoring their critics). While just business as usual in academic science, the IPCC should not tolerable this when writing the foundation for high-stakes and high-cost public policy. It shows a lack of internal controls at the IPCC, and weakens their credibility — which is their greatest asset.

Let’s look at a high-profile example: rising sea levels — vivid, and so has become a widely used example of potential climate impacts (often hysterically so in the general media).  Judith Curry (chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology) examines rising sea levels as am example of the IPCC exaggerating the conclusions of current research.  This also illustrates a larger weakness in the climate change debate.

From Chapter 3 of the AR5 SOD (red emphasis added):

Two out of three reconstructions of GMSL (global mean sea level) from tide gauge data extending back to 1900 or earlier indicate non-zero acceleration. Estimates range from 0.000 to 0.013 [–0.002 to 0.019] mm yr–2, so it is likely that GMSL rise has accelerated since the early 1900s.

Prof Curry’s comment:

A fourth paper on this topic was recently published that was not referenced in Chapter 3 of the SOD {Gregory et al, below}.  So the addition of one more paper to the literature without an accelerating trend (2 out of 4) implies, according to the IPCC reasoning about uncertainty, that acceleration of sea level trend is ‘about as likely as not.’

Under this line of reasoning, the addition of one paper to the literature can change the assessment from ‘likely’ to ‘about as likely as not.’ And since the Gregory et al. paper seems to be superior from a methodological perspective, a more sophisticated assessment process would weight this paper more heavily. It looks to me like the IPCC needs to change this particular conclusion (especially the confidence level) in view of this new paper by Gregory et al.

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The ice caps are melting! Only massive government action can save us!

Summary: Earlier this week we showed an example of crude propaganda about climate change (much like the dying children in “How to Cut Carbon Emissions“). Today we look at an example of excellent climate propaganda, and speculate about the wider significance of these matters.


Science uncovers many amazing new facts. Such as the startlingly rapid molding of a species found in “Early Canid Domestication: The Farm-Fox Experiment“, Lyudmila N. Trut, American Scientist, March-April 1999 — “Foxes bred for tamability in a 40-year experiment exhibit remarkable transformations that suggest an interplay between behavioral genetics and development”. Excerpt:

In the 6th generation bred for tameness we had to add an even higher-scoring category. Members of Class IE, the “domesticated elite,” are eager to establish human contact, whimpering to attract attention and sniffing and licking experimenters like dogs. They start displaying this kind of behavior before they are one month old. By the 10th generation, 18% of fox pups were elite; by the 20th, the figure had reached 35% . Today elite foxes make up 70 – 80% of our experimentally selected population.

Has something similar happened in America? How did we evolve from the unruly, difficult to manage Americans of the Founding era to the easily fooled — and so easily led — Americans of today? We see this in politics. Bush Jr tells us lies about Iraq and Afghanistan, and off we go to war. Obama tells us lies about Libya, and off we go to war. Now we’re bombarded with lies about Iran (similar to those about Iraq) and — stay tuned for the next act.

We see this in the climate wars fought to mold and harness public opinion. Much of mainstream media reporting has become little but exaggerations and misrepresentations about climate change, far beyond what’s in the science literature. Here we look at one such volley.

It’s like watching ‘Manhattan breaking apart in front of your eyes’, says one of the researchers for filmmaker James Balog. He’s describing the largest iceberg calving ever filmed, as featured in his movie, Chasing Ice. After weeks of waiting, the filmakers witnessed 7.4 cubic km of ice crashing off the Ilulissat glacier in Greenland. Chasing Ice, released in the UK on Friday, follows Balog’s mission to document Arctic ice being melted by climate change.
— From “Chasing Ice movie reveals largest iceberg break-up ever filmed“, The Guardian, 12 December 2012

Form a comment on the FM website:

“I found the photos of the 3 year melt at the Solheim Glacier (Iceland) to be particularly frightening. I’ve seen the impact of glacial melt with my own eyes and know that it is real. This interview and the related material have convinced me that the melt rate has accelerated dramatically.”

Here’s the trailer to Chasing Ice.



This has become the centerpiece in a barrage of propaganda. Feel the fear:

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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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