Sea Level Rise Debate

Global sea level must accelerate beyond the less than 3mm/yr rise presently to produce rises of a meter or more put out by the Australian Government fear-mongers. Challenges to the main basis for the 1 meter projections just posted on RC Is sea level rise accelerating? shows just how lame the defense of these catastrophic claims has become.

This is modelling I and many other have been very critical of in the past. A response by Houston and Dean contains further complaints about Rahmstorf’s modeling:

… it is easily seen that the portion of Figure 1 where the agreement is “good” compares their modeling versus increasingly meaningless data, and they have been selective in showing only data that appear to match their modeling and not the data that strongly disagree.


A recent workshop of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2010) considered the semi-empirical approaches of Rahmstorf (2007), Vermeer and Rahmstorf (2009), and others and concluded, “No physically-based information is contained in such models …” (p. 2) and “The physical basis for the large estimates from these semi-empirical models is therefore currently lacking” (p. 2).

Geoff Sherrington back in my original post noted a few more rebuttals and asked:

What does it take to drive a stake through its heart sufficient that no reputable scientist will refer to it except as an example of what not to do?

Climate Commission scientist Will Steffen aims high:

“I expect the magnitude of global average sea-level rise in 2100 compared to 1990 to be in the range of 0.5 to 1.0 metre,” Steffen said in his preface to “The Critical Decade”.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, seized on the Climate Commission report saying:

“We don’t have time for false claims in this debate. The science is in, climate change is real.”

H&D sum up the complaint — there is no evidence of the acceleration needed:

To reach the multimeter levels projected for 2100 by RV requires large positive accelerations that are one to two orders of magnitude greater than those yet observed in sea-level data.

To which Rahmstorf responds — we don’t need no stinkin’ evidence:

As Houston & Dean state in their final sentence, we indeed predict a much larger acceleration of sea level rise in the 21st Century than is observed in the 20th Century. That is a direct logical consequence of the fact that we expect much larger warming in the 21st than in the 20th.

Meanwhile, at some climate conference in Melbourne.

A CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship climate researcher, Dr Whetton said that, compared to annual average temperatures recorded in 1850, a 4ºC warming might occur by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions stay high. She said the projections are based primarily on the Australian regional results from up to 23 global climate models.

Yada yada yada.


0 thoughts on “Sea Level Rise Debate

  1. I have to admit that as jaded as I am I didn’t expect to see a paper project accelerated sea level rise based on projected warming especially with decelerating seal level observations and flat temps!! It would appear they have left reality and entered pure propaganda mode.

    • Jaded… well put. Not many comments getting up at RC.  Bit of backstory on H&D.  Its an article I find resonates as its very engineering-based.

      • One of the few times I have gone to RC. Amazing, they only graph data through 1970! I guess they think the most recent data would BIAS their analysis!! (snicker)

        Ahh, H&D clearly explain why RC only uses up to 1970!! Doesn’t even need the last couple of years to bury them.

      • Do keep response times in mind. A fifteen year plateau in global temperatures as presently measured might work its way through the system byr slowly and then appear as a tiny signal among the noise of SST etc. Also, I keep preaching that for ocean rise to happen (in a basin of fixed geometry) ALL of the water has to heat on average, not just a top layer or whatever. Because deep ocean temperature changes are measured with a very sparse network, there is no way that a confident prediction of ocean level changes or the famous missing heat can be scientifically recognised from present data. Have a read of Pat Frank’s article of 13 July 2011 (today) on the Air Vent, about the proper treatment of error accumulation in the measurement of air temperatures just above land and sea.

      • Geoff, the charts used only run through 1970 so cannot show whether the last 40 years are accelerating or not. As you mention, due to lag that aceleration would have been due to changes decades previous.

        What I thought H&D claimed is that there is no long term trend in the data and their result is due to the specific period R&V use? This would be consistent with what Niels Axel Morner has been yelling for years.

        I did read Pat’s article, thanks. It is inline with my “beliefs” from a number of similar articles over the years, that most of our climate information is not suitable for the small changes they are trying to show, not even when using TRENDS.

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