The surprising news from scientists about rising sea levels!

Summary: Rising sea levels have become a core element — perhaps the core — of climate activists’ warnings. What do scientists say? Should we worry, panic, or despair? Here is a brief answer, plus much supporting evidence. This is journalism for the public policy debate about climate change, not written by a subject matter expert.

Greenpeace artwork about sea levels
An example of Greenpeace informing the public.

As so many of the predicted effects of climate change have failed to appear on time (e.g., the end of winter, more and stronger hurricanes), rising sea levels have become the focus of climate activists. It creates easy (if unscientific, even daft) graphics of global flooding — hopefully panicking insurance companies and landowners. Unfortunately, as so often the case, the science has not supported their screams of “Wolf!”

Now a new cycle begins, with the first salvo being Jeff Tollefson’s “Satellite snafu masked true sea-level rise for decades” in Nature, 17 July 2017 — “Revised tallies confirm that the rate of sea-level rise is accelerating as the Earth warms and ice sheets thaw.” A mild tone, as such articles go. The mainstream news stories to follow, fed by activists, probably will be lurid — or even hysterical. People will be running for the hills if they take them seriously (but they don’t; even believers see them as entertainment).

Spoiler – Conclusions

Below you will find six charts and 2750 words from major institutional science websites plus eight works of cutting edge research. It describes the scientific basis for the terrifying news stories you have seen and will continue to see in the major news media. I’ll save you some time. Here are the four conclusions relevant to the public policy debate about climate change.

(a) The seas are slowly rising and will continue to do so. Europe is preparing many of its coastal cities for this. America is not. Unless we wake up, the results will not be pretty. Slow and stupid are the sins “Nature’s god” always punishes.

(b) There are some tentative signs that the rate of increase is already accelerating, rather than just fluctuating. But the data is noisy (lots of natural variation) and the (tentative) acceleration is small — near the resolving power of these systems (hence the significance of the frequent revisions).

(c) Graph E in paper (5) is the key. As the world continues to warm, the rate of sea level rise will accelerate (probably slowly). Understanding the four scenarios used in the IPCC’s AR5 is an essential first step to making sense of the stories in the news about rising seas (discussed below).

(d) Bottom line: activists are attempting to incite hysteria by exaggerating and misrepresenting what science tells us about rising sea levels.

No Fear

What do the scientists say about the rising seas?

We start, as always, with the Working Group I of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report: Chapter 3 – Observations: Oceans. The oceans have been rising at varying rates for a long time.

“It is very likely that the mean rate of global averaged sea level rise was 1.7 [1.5 to 1.9] mm/yr between 1901 and 2010 and 3.2 [2.8 to 3.6] mm/yr between 1993 and 2010. Tide gauge and satellite altimeter data are consistent regarding the higher rate during the latter period. It is likely that similarly high rates occurred between 1920 and 1950.”

The chapter also discusses at length the high degree of “interannual-to-multi-decadal variability” due to climate modes (e.g., the North Atlantic oscillation, the Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation, the Pacific decadal oscillation, and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation) which obscure long-term trends.

Also see NASA’s website about sea level projections. The rise over the past 25 years is aprox. 3.2 mm/year (12.6″ per century). Red emphasis added

“High quality measurements of (near)-global sea level have been made since late 1992 by satellite altimeters …This data has shown a more-or-less steady increase in Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) of around 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/year over that period. This is more than 50% larger than the average value over the 20th century. Whether or not this represents a further increase in the rate of sea level rise is not yet certain.”

Now let’s look at research since AR5’s WGI report was published in 2013.

Day After Tomorrow
From The Day After Tomorrow.

What do the satellites say?

The major databases of global mean sea level show no acceleration in recent years. Here are  two of them.

(a) AVISO – through 25 March 2017.

AVISO shows a 1993-2017 rise at a rate of  3.28mm/year (12.9″ per century) – and no acceleration. They are confident of their data. Aviso distributes satellite altimetry data from Topex/Poseidon, Jason-1, ERS-1 and ERS-2, EnviSat, and the Doris precise orbit determination and positioning products. It is a partnership of these major science institutions. They have not updated their graph since March 2017. See their interactive tool here. Click the graph to enlarge.

“Comparisons between these altimetry data and those obtained using independent techniques, such as the drifting buoys of the Argo network, the GRACE gravimetry satellite, or the network of tide gauges, can not only corroborate these results but also help us establish which of the possible sources of variation in mean sea level might explain the rise observed.”

Global mean sea level from Aviso

(b) Colorado University Sea Level Research Group (SLMG).

The CU SLMG provides another graph showing rising sea levels — but no acceleration. They have not updated it since June 2016, probably waiting for recalculation of satellite data. The trend is 3.4 mm/year (11.8″ per century).

“Since 1993, measurements from the TOPEX and Jason series of satellite radar altimeters have allowed estimates of global mean sea level. These measurements are continuously monitored against a network of tide gauges. When seasonal variations are subtracted, they allow estimation of the global mean sea level rate. As new data, models and corrections become available, we continuously revise these estimates (about every two months) to improve their quality.”

Global Mean Sea Level. Seasonal signals removed (10mm = 0.4″.).Global Mean Sea Level - CU Sea Level Research Group

Where do activists get those scary scenarios?

When climate activists do not just make up stories, they use the worst-case scenario in the IPCC’s AR5: RCP8.5. Like a good worst case analysis, it assumes large changes in current trends in population (high) and technology (stagnant in the 21st century). The scenario is unlikely and becoming more so every day. RCP8.5 assumes that coal is the fuel of the late 21st century. Coal companies are going bankrupt now, replaced by natural gas and renewables.  Electric cars are already commonplace in Europe, with mass production coming to America eventually as the technology matures (it’s in the early stages now). The potential solar and even fusion remains bright for coming generations.

Scientists are responding to this, with papers increasingly focused instead on the middle scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP6.0). With continued technological progress, we might reach the RCP2.6 scenario in the mid 21st C – with negative greenhouse gas emissions. For details see Manufacturing climate nightmares: misusing science to create horrific predictions.

Recent papers about new analysis of the data

National Geographic

Unlike what you read in the mainstream media about climate and economic data, collecting this data is not like counting apples. Hence the role of revisions and reanalysis of the data. The graphs of global sea level and atmosphere temperatures result from mind-blowingly complex calculations, whether based on instruments on satellites or Earth’s surface. See this presentation describing some of this complexity.

Improvements are an ongoing process, as seen in “Orbit related sea level errors for TOPEX altimetry at seasonal to decadal time scales” in Ocean Science, in press. The TOPEX mission ended in January 2006.

Scientists have attempted to understand the dynamics of rising sea levels, unlock their history, and detect the expected acceleration in the rate of rising sea levels. Here are samples of their recent work. Red emphasis added.

(1) Timescales for detecting a significant acceleration in sea level rise” by Ivan D. Haigh et al in Nature Communications, 14 April 2014.

“Our results imply that if/when the currently understood components of the variability in the records are removed, then accelerations significantly different from zero are likely to become detectable in individual tide gauge records later this decade or early next decade, using the methods considered here.”

(2) Unabated global mean sea-level rise over the satellite altimeter era” by Christopher S. Watson et al in Nature Climate Change, June 2015. Gated. Abstract…

“The rate of global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise has been suggested to be lower for the past decade compared with the preceding decade as a result of natural variability, with an average rate of rise since 1993 of +3.2 ± 0.4 mm yr−1. However, satellite-based GMSL estimates do not include an allowance for potential instrumental drifts (bias drift). Here, we report improved bias drift estimates for individual altimeter missions from a refined estimation approach that incorporates new Global Positioning System (GPS) estimates of vertical land movement (VLM). …

“Applying the bias drift corrections has two implications. First, the GMSL rate (1993 to mid-2014) is systematically reduced to between +2.6 ± 0.4 mm yr−1 and +2.9 ± 0.4 mm yr−1, depending on the choice of VLM applied. These rates are in closer agreement with the rate derived from the sum of the observed contributions, GMSL estimated from a comprehensive network of tide gauges with GPS-based VLM applied and reprocessed ERS-2/Envisat altimetry.

“Second, in contrast to the previously reported slowing in the rate during the past two decades, our corrected GMSL data set indicates an acceleration in sea-level rise (independent of the VLM used), which is of opposite sign to previous estimates and comparable to the accelerated loss of ice from Greenland and to recent projections, and larger than the twentieth-century acceleration.”

(3)  “Refining satellite era estimates of global mean sea level rise” by Christopher S. Watson et al, slides presented at the International GNSS Service Annual Workshop in February 2016. This is an excellent introduction to the complexities of calculating sea levels from satellite data. A few of their conclusions.

  • “Our work suggests TOPEX is yet to be fully understood and is presently slightly overestimating the trend in GMSL. {The TOPEX mission ended in January 2006!}
  • “Our revised record seems more consistent with the sum of the observed contributions to GMSL. While not yet statistically significant, we see the emergence of an acceleration.
  • “Further reprocessing of TOPEX is currently underway by mission agencies, first results seem commensurate with our findings, but this remains in progress.”

(4) Revisiting the contemporary sea-level budget on global and regional scales” by Roelof Rietbroeka et al, PNAS, 9 February 2016 — “The simultaneous combination of sea-level anomalies from satellite altimetry and data from satellite gravimetry allows a partitioning of the sea-level rise into the different contributions.” Abstract…

“Dividing the sea-level budget into contributions from ice sheets and glaciers, the water cycle, steric expansion, and crustal movement is challenging, especially on regional scales. Here, Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) gravity observations and sea-level anomalies from altimetry are used in a joint inversion, ensuring a consistent decomposition of the global and regional sea-level rise budget. …”

The thick grey line is the total change in sea level over the 2002–2014 period: 2.74 mm/year (10.8″/century).

Graph of global mean sea level from Rietbroek in PNAS, 9 February 2016

(5) Temperature-driven global sea-level variability in the Common Era” by Robert E. Kopp et al in PNAS, 15 March 2016 —

“We present the first, to our knowledge, estimate of global sea-level (GSL) change over the last ∼3,000 years that is based upon statistical synthesis of a global database of regional sea-level reconstructions.

“GSL varied by ∼±8 cm over the pre-Industrial Common Era, with a notable decline over 1000–1400 CE coinciding with ∼0.2 °C of global cooling. The 20th century rise was extremely likely faster than during any of the 27 previous centuries. Semiempirical modeling indicates that, without global warming, GSL in the 20th century very likely would have risen by between −3 cm and +7 cm {1.2″ to 2.8″), rather than the ∼14 cm {5.5″} observed. Semiempirical 21st century projections largely reconcile differences between IPCC projections and semiempirical models.”

Graph A: Global sea level (GSL) under prior ML2,1. Note that the model is insensitive to small linear trends in GSL over the Common Era, so the relative heights of the 700–1000 CE and 20th century peaks are not comparable.” The sea level values are with respect to 1900 CE baseline. This graph is widely used, seldom with this important caveat. (1.0cm = 0.4″.)

2500 years of Global Mean Sea Levels under RCPs from Kopp 2016 in PNAS.

Graph E: 21st century projections for RCPs 2.6, 4.5, and 8.5. Red lines show the fifth percentile of RCP 2.6 and 95th percentile of RCP 8.5. …Sea level values are with respect to 2000 CE baseline.” By roughly 2025 the rate of sea level rise accelerates substantially under all four RCPs. (10cm = 3.9″.) The acceleration is steep only under the unlikely worst-case RCP8.5 scenario.

Global Mean Sea Level under RCPs from Kopp 2016 in PNAS.

(6)  “Is the detection of accelerated sea level rise imminent?” by J.T. Fasullo et al, Scientific Reports, 10 August 2016 — Abstract.

“Global mean sea level rise estimated from satellite altimetry provides a strong constraint on climate variability and change and is expected to accelerate as the rates of both ocean warming and cryospheric mass loss increase over time. In stark contrast to this expectation however, current altimeter products show the rate of sea level rise to have decreased from the first to second decades of the altimeter era. Here, a combined analysis of altimeter data and specially designed climate model simulations shows the 1991 eruption of Mt Pinatubo to likely have masked the acceleration that would have otherwise occurred. This masking arose largely from a recovery in ocean heat content through the mid to late 1990 s subsequent to major heat content reductions in the years following the eruption.

“A consequence of this finding is that barring another major volcanic eruption, a detectable acceleration is likely to emerge from the noise of internal climate variability in the coming decade.

Update: (7)  “New estimate of the current rate of sea level rise from a sea level budget approach” by H. B. Dieng et al in Geophysical Research Letters, 28 April 2017 — Gated. Abstract.

“We revisit the global mean sea level (GMSL) budget during the whole altimetry era (January 1993 to December 2015) using a large number of data sets. The budget approach allows quantifying the TOPEX A altimeter drift (amounting 1.5 ± 0.5 mm/yr over 1993–1998). Accounting for this correction and using ensemble means for the GMSL and components lead to closure of the sea level budget (trend of the residual time series being 0.0 ± 0.22 mm/yr).

“The new GMSL rate over January 1993 to December 2015 is now close to 3.0 mm/yr. An important increase of the GMSL rate, of 0.8 mm/yr, is found during the second half of the altimetry era (2004–2015) compared to the 1993–2004 time span, mostly due to Greenland mass loss increase and also to slight increase of all other components of the budget.

Figure 3a: Ensemble mean (EM) GMSL without TOPEX A drift correction (black curve), sum of EM components (red curve), and individual EM components over January 1993 to December 2015. Shaded areas represent one standard error as described in text.

From Dieng et al "New estimate of the current rate of sea level rise from a sea level budget approach" in GRL, 28 April 2017.

Unpublished research, new fuel for scary stories.

Tollefson’s Nature article mentioned research presentations at the “Regional Sea Level Changes and Coastal Impacts” Conference in July 2017 (see the abstracts here). The eventual papers published from these might have a large impact on the public policy debate. Here are two.  First, the one by Nerem that Tollefson mentions.

(8)  “Understanding the Acceleration of Sea Level Rise During the Altimeter Era” by R. Steven Nerem et al. Nerem had given a presentation with the same title at a CMCC seminar in February. Tollefson says that “Nerem’s team calculated that the rate of sea-level rise increased from around 1.8 millimetres per year in 1993 to roughly 3.9 millimetres per year today as a result of global warming.” Oddly, this isn’t in the abstract. This will be important if this work leads to the revision of the sea level histories so that they show an acceleration in recent years.

“Over the last 25 years, data from TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2, and Jason-3 have been used to observe changes in global mean sea level. A rate of rise of 3.4 ± 0.4 mm/year has been observed. However, observing a possible acceleration in the rate of sea level rise is more challenging and pushes the limits of the observing system accuracy. This presentation will examine the feasibility of detecting an acceleration in the altimeter sea level record.

“First, the available evidence for estimating how big of an acceleration might be expected in the altimeter record will be reviewed. Next, the errors in the altimetry will be discussed in the context of tide gauge validation of the altimeter record. The role of interannual variability in GMSL in measuring the acceleration will be addressed.

“We will also discuss the role of decadal variability and how it might influence the determination of acceleration, including the role that the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo might have had on the altimeter sea level record.

“Finally, we will discuss progress towards understanding the acceleration of GMSL over the 25-year record, based on consideration of all of these issues, including the importance of using the tide gauge validation to understand the errors in the acceleration estimate.”

(9)  “Sea Level Budget of the Altimetry Era Revisited” by Anny Cazenave el al.  Gavin Schmidt tweeted a graph (below) which I believe is from this presentation, similar to but apparently better documented than in previous papers associated with Cazanave (#2 and #7 above). This shows a slight acceleration during the past two decades, and a small acceleration since 2014 (to 0.14″/year). But the former might be natural variation and the latter might be a temporary effect from the 2014-2016 El Nino period. Click to enlarge the below graph.

“We revisit the global mean sea level (GMSL) budget during the whole altimetry era (1993 –  present) and show that using a large number of data sets to estimate the different components of the sea level equation improves the budget closure. Moreover, the budget approach allows to detect bias and drifts in the observations.

  • Six different altimetry-based sea level data sets have been considered over the period January 1993-December 2015. They include the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) sea level products from the European Space Agency (ESA).
  • The steric data include three data sets for January 1993-December 2004 and four Argo data sets afterwards.
  • Three glaciers time series are considered. For the ice sheets, the IMBIE data set is used until December 2003 and the CCI ice sheet products afterwards. Both IMBIE and CCI products combine a large number of individual data sets.
  • Changes in land water storage and atmospheric water vapour content are also accounted for.

“For each term of the sea level equation we use the mean of available data sets. The sum of components agree very well with the altimetry-based GMSL except at the beginning of the record (1993-1998). During the later period a single altimeter (Topex A) was operating. Moreover Topex A suffered significant instrumental drift. Previous studies attempted to estimate this drift by comparing with tide gauges and the experimental Poseidon altimeter data onboard the Topex/Poseidon mission.

“Here we use another approach and estimate the Topex A drift from the sum of components over January 1993-December 1998. Accounting for this correction leads to much improved agreement between observed sea level and sum of components. Using ensemble means for the GMSL and components rather than individual data sets leads to closure of the sea level budget.

“The trend of the residual time series is 0.0 +/- 0.2 mm/yr. The RMS is 2.4 mm/yr for the whole altimetry record. It decreases to 1.7 mm when the steric sea level is estimated with Argo (as of January 2005). We attribute the slightly larger RMS of the first decade to uncertainty of the steric component.

“For the whole altimetry period (January 1993-December 2015), the GMSL rate is now close to 3 mm/yr. However, significant GMSL rate difference is found between the 1st and 2nd decade of the altimetry era (2.7 mm/yr and 3.5 mm/yr respectively), suggesting sea level acceleration in the recent years.”

Cazenave GMSL graph at Conference, July 2017

“We don’t even plan for the past.”
— Steven Mosher (member of Berkeley Earthbio here), a comment posted at Climate Etc about our unpreparedness for the inevitable repeat of past weather.

For More Information

There is a serious problem with Earth’s seas: we’re killing them. See the ugly details here, and more here.

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see The keys to understanding climate change, all posts about computer models, and especially these about rising seas…

The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

To learn more about the state of climate change…

… see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr. (Prof of Environmental Studies at U of CO-Boulder). From the publisher…

“In recent years the media, politicians, and activists have popularized the notion that climate change has made disasters worse. But what does the science actually say? Roger Pielke, Jr. takes a close look at the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the underlying scientific research, and the data to give you the latest science on disasters and climate change. What he finds may surprise you and raise questions about the role of science in political debates.”

26 thoughts on “The surprising news from scientists about rising sea levels!

  1. One thing I have been unable to rationalize is why the satellite data is so different to the tidal data. The acceleration seems to be that the satellite data is grafted onto a truncated tidal series (another hide the decline?). if we are to accept that the sea level rise is accelerating, then we should expect to see the tidal records after 1993 to show the same effect. However, the long term records here ( or here ( don’t. When tackled about the difference, the accelerating sea level promotors tend to do arm waving and talk of local variations hiding the trend. This is when they don’t resort to ad homs. When one drills down into the seal levels at places like Honiara or Micronesia, which the satellite maps show (Figure D2 here: is having massive sea level changes, the ports data shows no rise.
    This makes one doubt the accuracy of the satellite data, and wonder just what effect the adjustments are having. The whole principle about science is being able to have reproducible results and the theory explains the apparent discrepancies. To me, this hasn’t been done.

    1. Chrism,

      “The acceleration seems to be that the satellite data is grafted onto a truncated tidal series”

      Can you give an example? None of the graph shown here do that.

      “However, the long term records here”

      I don’t see any global records at the Tides and Current NOAA page, after a quick look. Can you point to it? Also, do you have a cite or link to a comparison of the tide and altimeter datasets?

      “satellite data having massive sea level changes, the ports data shows no rise.”

      (1) Pointing to a Dec 2010 paper isn’t helpful. That was several generations of data ago.

      (2) Has the ports data been adjusted for the many factors affecting it? Such as shoreline and channel changes, Glacial Isostatic Adjustment.

      (3) Again, do you have a citation from an expert comparing the data?

  2. Editor
    There has been no global series on the tide data I think Church and White which only used data up to about 2009 was the last attempt. However, If the average shown by satellite is 3.3mm/ yr and it is increasing, you would expect to see the tide data for individual ports showing that. There isn’t
    Here is an example (first graph) that shows the actual grafting. Most don’t show data sources.
    The tidal data as far as I know doesn’t show corrections. However, Se level is measured relative to land, that is the cause of flooding. In areas like Mississippi mouth with the subsidence, it is major sea encroachment. In Scandinavia, sea level is dropping.
    Here is the most recent sea level map from Jason 3 I can find
    Compare it with Sydney harbour (Fort Dennison) which is in the centre of a high sea level rise.
    Here is one example where the differences are glossed over
    Here is a paper where the tidal data is adjusted up to match the models
    Here is another paper that tries to reconcile the differences – Australia the opposite to Jason 3

    It is late here with a winter storm here and with an early start in the morning, I have to finish up.

    1. chrism,

      (1) If you want to understand such highly technical issues, you have to read reliable sources. Robert Scribbler? (Of course he doesn’t show sources, which tells you a lot). See these posts to see a brief look at his work.

      (2) Mississippi and Scandinavia are both experiencing substantial land movement. They show why tide gauges need to be adjusted to generate useful data on sea levels.

      (3) Your characterization of the 2015 Nature paper is silly. Did you even read it?

      (4) You don’t seem to accept scientists work to reconcile their various data sources, or the explanations for the differences (largely related to land movements in response to ice melting). You have not explained why, shown that you have researched the issue, or shown that you understand the technical issues. It’s just science denial.

      Thanks for posting. I’m moderating further comments.

  3. “Electric cars are already commonplace in Europe, with mass production coming to America eventually as the technology matures (it’s in the early stages now).”

    I do not hold high hopes for all electric vehicles or transportation in general. Even with the technology maturing (costs coming down, range increases, etc.) there is still a fundamental energy problem. Electric vehicles require two stages of energy conversion; one from some form of chemical source to electricity and then to kinetic motion. Internal combustion engines just require one stage; from chemical to kinetic. As we know, there is loss during conversions.

    I don’t have numbers so that is just my humble opinion.

    1. mrcraig,

      The offset for efficiency is cost. Electric vehicles have a far simpler engine, which needs much less maintenance. Also, electricity is a lot cheaper than gas — even in the US. Electrics advantage in Europe is greater, where gas is expensive and cars smaller. See this article about their sales in Europe. Much bigger than in the US.

      Also, the technology is new. One of the great things we learn from technology is that people almost always look at the early commercial versions of new tech and say that it won’t catch on. Then they are surprised by its rapid advance and the resulting sales. Why is this still so after 200 years of people underestimating tech?

    2. “Electric vehicles require two stages of energy conversion … there is loss during conversions.”

      And this is why theoretical physicists should not be responsible for making economic or political decisions. The energy conversion loss is real of course, but obviously this is not the whole story.

      A less-efficient energy conversion process might be preferable for many reasons that can’t be quantified in a physics model, and it would be silly to try carrying a solar panel array along with you in your car.

    3. Todd,

      That’s a great point. Starting from first principles is a hazardous way to deal with real-world phenomena. In the 1930s, French entomologist August Magnan showed that the bumblebee flight is actually impossible.

      The “Practical Scientist” columns at Scientific American had wonderful discussions of scientists attempting to explain simple devices. The debate raged for months about why a child “pumping” on a swing makes it go higher. (The columnist was eventually fired for being a Christian, a stunning display of the Left’s intolerance.)

  4. Climate change sea level alarmism is nonsense. At any location, the local sea level is dominated by land movements, not climate change. And worldwide, coastal land areas over the past 30 years have actually increased (e.g. from river silting and land uplift) more than they have decreased (e.g. from subsistence), as revealed from actual satellite observations:

    Earth’s surface water change over the past 30 years” by Gennadii Donchyts et al in Nature Climate Change, Sept 2016.

    How the earth has changed over the past 30 years” at Deltares — about the above NCC paper.

    1. Mike,

      “Climate change sea level alarmism is nonsense.”

      Yes, that’s the point of this post’s summary of the research.

      “At any location, the local sea level is dominated by land movements, not climate change.”

      Yes, but that’s not the relevant point about the research. We know the effect of sea level rises of the past. They’re looking ahead, not backwards. It could easily become a serious problem. Not drowning skyscrapers, but causing serious damage — esp from rising seas leading to increased storm surge. As with Storm Sandy in NYC. Imagine if Sandy hit NYC as a Cat 3 hurricane.

    1. Chrism,

      Thanks for posting that example of splicing together two different instrument records! The paper clearly disclosed it — both in color and the legend. I’m not a climate scientist, but that seems an OK way to show the data to fellow scientists. It is misleading if shown to the public, of course.

  5. Editor
    There are several significant issues with the graph further to what you point out. Hansen et. al. only use the tidal data to 1992 even though the data set here has been extended to 2013. The data that they would have used is here. Church and White ( quote sea level rise in the period 1900 -2009 as 1.7mm pa. Hansen says it is 0.6mm 1900-1930 and 1931 – 1992 as 1.4mm pa. They have “adjusted” the C&W data by the Hays paper that you pinged me for upthread.
    The effect of these adjustments is to give the acceleration.

    1. chrism,

      Thank you for your comments, but this is the wrong place for him. This isn’t a forum to argue with scientists about such technical matters. Neither I nor most readers have the background or interest for such matters. I suggest going to Skeptical Science, WUWT, or any of the places where they discuss such things.

      This website is about geopolitics, in this case the public policy implications of climate change — and the appropriate response.

  6. editor
    Fair enough.
    On the issues you raise, there is a false precision and confidence in the information presented. Even the doubts that the IPCC had in their reports is gone. The activist scientists rely on a relatively scientific illiterate audience. As I pointed out above, they even fudge the data, to give more emphasis to their stance.
    I wonder how long it will be before the real anti- science brigade (like the anti-vaxxers and chemtrail people)become a lot more prominent, wen they have all this snake oil samples to use as evidence. The end outcome will probably be very bad for science (when people no longer trust them) and society in general.

    1. Useful perspective, Michel. Thanks for the ingredient too often missing from the scare-mongering that too often passes for news: time scale.

      A longer scale graph would demonstrate the cyclic nature of sea level rises and falls, glacier growth and recession, and all other signs of a naturally cyclic but chaotic climate. Short term perspective makes monkeys out of humans who might otherwise be somewhat intelligent.

    2. Ruggiero,

      “Thanks for the ingredient too often missing from the scare-mongering that too often passes for news: time scale.”

      This graph shows the same rise as the other graphs in this post. The research described here looks for the point at which the rate rise will accelerate from here, and at what rate.

      “A longer scale graph would demonstrate the cyclic nature of sea level rises”

      Like this one from this post? We are already outside the range of the past 2400 years.

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