Sea Level Scare Stories – Simply Scandalous

Posted: December 2, 2011 by tallbloke in climate, Incompetence, Ocean dynamics, Politics

Veteran researcher and beachcomber Nils Axel Morner has a long article in this weeks Spectator

on sea levels and the shenanigans he alleges have been going on with measurement and interpretation of data. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Satellite altimetry is a wonderful and vital new technique that offers the reconstruction of sea level changes all over the ocean surface. But it has been hijacked and distorted by the IPCC for political ends.

In 2003 the satellite altimetry record was mysteriously tilted upwards to imply a sudden sea level rise rate of 2.3mm per year. When I criticised this dishonest adjustment at a global warming conference in Moscow, a British member of the IPCC delegation admitted in public the reason for this new calibration: ‘We had to do so, otherwise there would be no trend.’

Amazing if true.

It would explain why the European satellite altimetry measurements differ so much from the ones coming out of Colorado University though.

Tom Nelson turns up a quote from the UN head honcho in this email from the FOIA2011 stash:

Email 1349
> Please find enclosed the statement by the UN Secretary General:
> 18 November 2007
> “If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet broke up, sea levels could rise by six
> meters. It may not happen for 100 years – or it could happen in 10. We
> simply do not know. But when it happens, it could occur quickly, almost
> overnight. It sounds like the script of a disaster movie. But this is
> science, not science fiction.”
> Ban Ki Moon
> Secretary General of the United Nations

What have the scientists been telling the head of the UN and maybe the
world bank that they wouldn’t dare to try to foist on the public? Has
there been some “we don’t want to alarm the public but…” whispering  going on?

More charitably, we might think Ban Ki Moon has misinterpreted a bad translation

or something…

Maybe he should get the advice of Nils before he makes an idiot of himself in public.

Plus some breaking news to cheer all sceptics:

Der Spiegel today has a story on IPCC bigwig and ultra-alarmist Stefan Rahmstorf, who is also a lead scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and elite member of the Hockey Team. For those of you who may not recall, Rahmstorf is the outlier oceanographer that projects a sea level rise of about 1.4 meters, even when the rest the world, including real observations, all point to something that is about 1/7 of that.

Here are the main points. Der Spiegel starts:

Renowned climate scientist and German government advisor Stefan Rahmstorf was found guilty of a blog attack against a journalist.  According to the opinion of a state court, he made untruthful assertions. Also the ‘Frankfurter Rundschau’ has come under fire.”

The Frankfurter Rundschau is a sort of daily that former East German comrades lean towards. On the Rahmstorf ruling by the court, NTZ reported about it here. Further analysis here.

H/T’s to Fred P, Pierre Gosselin and Malaga View.

  1. Otter says:

    I take note that Rhamstorf’s name appears in conjunction with at least one paper which shows NO acceleration to sea level rise (I believe he cited the paper in his own arguments, which (as I have not followed all the links yet) was probably in Objection to said paper?)

  2. tallbloke says:

    The HooFlungDung was apparentlyabout the ‘millions will starve in Africa after 2020’ IPCC claim.

  3. malagaview says:

    From John Daly’s wonderful account of the 1888 Ross-Lempriere sea level benchmark on the `Isle of the Dead’ situated within the harbor of Port Arthur in southeastern Tasmania.

    In the photo above, the line and arrow mark is a standard British Ordnance Survey Benchmark, 50 cm across, and is standing in the photo about 35 cm above the water level. Since the photo was deliberately taken at the time of mean or half-tide for that day, we see in this one photo the enigma that is the `Isle of the Dead’. Because, how can a benchmark struck at “zero point” or the “mean level of the sea”, as described so explicitly by Ross, now be 35 cm above the mean level today? Has the sea level fallen?
    The benchmark powerfully confirms what the Australian Mean Sea Level Survey tells us, namely that the rate of sea level rise over much of the 20th century has only been +0.16 mm/yr, less than one tenth of the IPCC’s estimate of 1.8 mm/yr. This survey would imply a sea level rise of only +1.6 cm for the whole century, consistent with observations and measurements of the Ross-Lempriere benchmark since Capt. Shortt first observed it in 1888.

  4. Roger Andrews says:

    Too many threads, Herr Mozart! Too many threads!

  5. tallbloke says:

    I know,
    An I was tempted by this too –

    I’ll put it in Michele’s thread ok? 🙂

  6. Roger Andrews says:

    Well OK

    Now preparing comments on the assumption that you won’t put up any more threads for at least the next 10 minutes. 😉

  7. Doug Proctor says:

    In order for sea levels to rise quickly, rivers the size of the Mississippi have to start pouring off of both Antarctica and Greenland – immediately. The math is simple, and it has to be. You can’t have increased calving from valley glaciers unless the glaciers are advancing. You can’t have top shrinkage without melting, as sublimation results from increased insolation if you are still below freezing. If the ice shelves are breaking up, it can be by increased storm action, but unless the temperatures of the shelves are above freezing, and have been for a long time, due to such slow thermal conductivity (which is why we can use Greenland direct temperature records), it cannot be melting, and if they are already floating, the sea level won’t rise.

    Alpine glaciers don’t amount enough to raise sea level to a worrying amount, and their decreased size wont’ do much to downstream flow as almost all of coastal water flow is from rainfall, anyway.

    Greenland and Antarctica are melting, of course, as we are in an interglacial period. The sea level is going up at 1 mm or so per year. To get another 1800 mm (1.8m) in 90 years, by 2100, we have to rise by an average of 20 mm/yr. Average. At the end, then, it must be more than 40 mm/year, but let’s just use the average. 20X the current rate. But since both Antarctica and Greenland are frozen for all but 5 months of every year, all that water has to come during a short period. Still worse, they can’t do it together, as they are not-frozen at exactly opposite times of the year. Each year, to keep the average, both Greenland and Antarctica have to create and then re-freeze rivers of water beyond the size of the Mississippi that will, for 5 months of the year, create most of the (five months time) 50X current excess fluid flow into the oceans to raise the sea levels by 1.8m by 2100.

    The absurdity of the concept is staggering. Even if you visualize Greenland/the Antarctic ice masses dripping like ice cubes, you must recognize that on a large area there are topographic depressions that will concentrate the water into ponds, lakes and rivers. Massive ice melting – not sublimation – has to result in large rivers.

    So where are our new Mississippis?

    A little thinking things through is all it takes. 6 m in a century? Al Gore must have cheated even to get his D in science. He must have mental handlers to get him safely across downtown streets.

  8. Roger Andrews says:

    We can’t make any projections of what sea level might do over the next 100 years if we don’t know what it did over the last 100 years. So the fundamental question is, how much has global sea level really risen over the last 100 years or so?

    According to the IPCC (CSIRO) reconstruction it’s risen by 200mm since 1880 and by 180mm since 1900, and the rate of rise shows signs of accelerating. (

    According to my reconstruction it’s risen by only about 100mm since 1900, with no rise at all between 1950 and 1980. (
    . The data are normalized but each unit on the y-scale corresponds to 50mm of SLR. And how about that match with SST?)

    So why does the IPCC reconstruction, which uses the same suite of tide gauge records as I did, give 80mm more SLR since 1900?

    Because of – you guessed it – “corrections”.

    And these corrections, like the corrections applied to the SST record, are almost certainly wrong.

    More later if anyone’s interested in the details.

  9. P.G. Sharrow says:

    To get that kind of sea level rise the oceans would have to warm 6 to 7 degrees C. For that to happen in 100 years the sun would have to bake the earth. I doubt the sun has enough energy left in it to increase it’s output that much. Satellite altimeter must be corrected to a bench mark, As in the temperature records that keep “correcting” the data to match the computer projected results, sea levels rise must match the projections. With wind and tides as well as geological surface altitude changes, who can tell if they are bogus. No need to “hide the decline” just adjust the data at it’s source. Small wonder the team has gained control of the record keeping. pg

  10. adolfogiurfa says:

    Sunken cities because of rains…yes!, we have had a few in the last years..and more to come, but not because of any “GW” but because…you know, those pesky protons going after beautiful she-electrons and having a watery progeny 🙂

  11. tallbloke says:

    Doug and Roger, great comments, thanks. Even the allegedly tilted Colorado satelllite altimetry is showing a fall over the last few years. I think this indicates a cooling of the ocean of a greater magnitude than the adjusted ARGO data is showing.

    If the verbal comment from the UK IPCC guy is true, it seems that many indices have been ‘adjusted’ to create a narrative consistent with the global land surface temperature record which we know has been inflated.

    Studies by John Christy on African surface stations, the NZ NIWA debacle with Phil Jones protege Jim Salinger, the arctic temperatures extrapolated from station thousands of km away by Jim Hansen….

  12. P.G. Sharrow says:

    It is beginning to appear to me that sea level and atmospheric CO2 are good proxies for oceanic energy levels. YECH there is that bad word “proxy”. Sea level change would act much the same as the fluid in a thermometer. Warming ocean= rise, cooling ocean=falling sea levels, Less the change of Ice accumulations on land. A reduction in sea level rise and a slowing of CO2 accumulation= energy lose in oceans. Biggest damn thermometer in the world! 😎 pg

  13. Roger Andrews says:


    “If the verbal comment from the UK IPCC guy is true, it seems that many indices have been ‘adjusted’ to create a narrative consistent with the global land surface temperature record which we know has been inflated.”

    Well, I don’t know that the land surface record has been manipulated, but other records certainly have, with the most notable examples being the SLR and SST records. And attribution becomes a lot easier after the records are massaged to show what AGW theory says they should show.

    But is it OK to manipulate records to fit what AGW says should have happened? Of course. Here’s the first paragraph from the 2006 US Climate Change Program Study of biases in the LT satellite and radiosonde records (lead author Wigley). It would fit well in your “Hall of Shame” section:

    “Previously reported discrepancies between the amount of warming near the surface and higher in the atmosphere have been used to challenge the reliability of climate models and the reality of human induced global warming. Specifically, surface data showed substantial global-average warming, while early versions of satellite and radiosonde data showed little or no warming above the surface. This significant discrepancy no longer exists because errors in the satellite and radiosonde data have been identified and corrected.”

    Click to access sap1-1-final-execsum.pdf

    Well, we can’t have people using data to question the reliability of climate models and the reality of human induced global warming, can we? Corrections are obviously in order.

  14. tallbloke says:

    The errors found in the UAH time series were within John Christy’s stated error bounds. This is similar to the slime attack launched by Trenberth a couple of months back. Shameful.

    Probably payback for the exposure of the blatant distortion of the African land surface records by Christy in a published paper.

    PG: Yup, the ocean heat content is the best measure of the Earth’s energy balance. Pity the people who run ARGO don’t allow the public to see the raw data they paid for…

  15. Doug Proctor says:

    The cooling of the oceans – if that is what is causing the apparent drop, means that Trenberth’s assessment of 70% additional rise for sea levels increasing due to temperature expansion effects, must be wrong. There is too much drop at a time that, supposedly, seal evels were rising due to increased Greenland/Antarctic melting.

    Here it is: if melting is raising the seas by 2.0 mm/yr, with another 1.4 mm/yr due to warming, we are up to 3.4 mm/yr that Hansen et al claim is the truth. (They do this by long-term averaging). So to drop 2 mm, while you are naturally rising 2.0 mm, means that (if you refuse to say that ice is has stopped melting), means that thermal contraction accounts for 7.4 mm this year (last year’s 3.4 plus this year’s 2.0, while saying this year the melt at 0*C didn’t warm up at all).

    In order to get a 7.4 mm drop you have to cool at least “x” amount that Trenberth claimed resulted in the 70% additional rise to begin with. From standard physics (which I haven’t got at hand), we know exactly how much sea we have to cool to get 10.6 mm of shrinkage. Which then tells us the oceanic heat loss, which then tells us the energy imbalance of the last year.

    Trenberth says the heat has gone deep. This won’t wash, as the warming of the lower water will expand THAT water, and you will still get the sea-level rise. So there cannot be any warming at all, worse, a significant cooling is you are still stuck with the idea continental ice melting continues.

    All this comes out of the orthodox narrative that the sea level is rising, in reality, by continued melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice masses, at a rate of 2.0 mm/yr, and that warming the ocean’s waters generally raises the surface by 1.4 mm/yr, for a combined total of 3.4 mm/yr. The math is basic and unavoidable, if you believe the narrative.

    The simple way out of the dilemma is to say one of the following three things:

    1. the satellite and tidal data have been wrong in the past and we are seeing the results of corrections, or

    2. the world’s oceans have not just stopped warming but are cooling AND Greenland and Antarctica have stopped melting, or

    3. the globe has cooled, the volume of melting has been estimated far too high AND the contribution by thermal expansion has been estimated far too low.

    Conclusion: The fundamental melting and expansion rates and co-efficients of the CO2-IPCC narrative cannot be maintained when sea levels drop. The proportions are out of whack.

    But I can’t do code, so what do I know.

  16. tallbloke says:

    Doug, the ‘narrative’ is collapsing around their ears. The scary thing is, if the rise rate had been tilted as Morner claims, then the drop being measured by Envisat currently is ‘worse than we thought’.

    My observation is that el nino’s keep the atmosphere warm, but when they occur when the sun is quiet, as in the 2010 event, the heat that comes out of the ocean to warm the atmosphere doesn’t get replaced like it did after the 1998 event.

    The relationship between solar activity and albedo is key, so the thing to keep an eye on is ‘sunshine hours’ counts. Trouble is, no-one does those over the oceans.

  17. Roger Andrews says:

    Doug Proctor & TB:

    Here’s an alternative narrative for you.

    Sea level rise is overestimated because of bogus “corrections”. Globally-averaged SLR since 1900 decreases from 180mm to about 100mm when we take these “corrections” out.

    Effectively all of this 100mm rise can be explained by thermal expansion of sea water. The comparison of SST and SLR in

    shows 100mm of SLR for a 1C increase in SST with R^2 = 0.92. This is in the same range as estimates by Bindoff et al. 2007 (130mm for a 1C increase) and McKay et al. 2011 (120mm).

    The heating that caused the thermal expansion was a result of the increase in solar activity during the 20th century. Back radiation from CO2 had little impact, if indeed it had any impact at all.

    Which explains why sea levels are now falling while atmospheric CO2 continues to skyrocket.

    But it doesn’t explain where all the water from melting glaciers and ice sheets went. Well, maybe there wasn’t nearly as much ice melt as we thought. Among the papers that rarely see the light of day is one by Wingham et al. (2006), which uses satellite altimetry to show that the Antarctic ice sheet is expanding, not contracting, and another by Johannessen et al. (2006), which uses satellite altimetry to show that the Greenland ice sheet is expanding as well. And only a small fraction of continental glaciers have been monitored in sufficient detail to make reliable estimates of historic ice volume loss.

  18. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Roger.
    I’ve known something was out of kilter since I did my own calcs and worked out that allowing for 50% of it being melt runoff as per AR4, for the sea level to have risen as much as the satellite altimetry says it did between 1993 and 2003, the amount of extra solar energy going in to expand the ocean by the required 5600km3 would have required a 4W/m^2 forcing over the decade.

  19. Roger Andrews says:

    TB: The satellite SLR record since 1993 actually matches my tide gauge reconstruction quite well, which is one of the reasons I think the reconstruction is OK. The main reason the satellites show so much SLR since 1993 is that mean global sea level in 1993 was, for whatever reason, well below the long-term trend. Had the satellite records begun a few years earlier the trend would be nothing like as steep.

  20. tallbloke says:

    I suspect the satellite altimetry is dodgy after 2003 though. As are the ARGO results we’ve been given. Envisat probably gives a truer picture than the Colorado effort.

    93-99 definitely saw some fast warming. Far in excess of anything co2 might manage. 🙂

  21. Roger Andrews says:

    And Envisat is adjusted too.

    Here’s the unadjusted record:

    Now look at what happens after GIAs are applied. The SLR gradient increases by over 60%.

    Nothing to it when you know how. 🙂

  22. J Martin says:

    I seem to remember from when I was at school, that water is at it’s densest at 4 degrees C, not zero degrees C, and that as it cools or heats up from 4 degrees C it expands.

    So if the bulk of the sea is at a temperature of about 2degrees C, then if it warms a little then sea levels would fall, not rise.

    OK, school was a long long time ago. Someone correct me if I have remembered my school science wrongly. Perhaps there is a difference in this behaviour between sea water and fresh water.

  23. tallbloke says:

    Oh yeah, looka dat!
    The rise rate goes from 0.5mm/yr to 0.8mm/yr!



  24. tallbloke says:

    J Martin, your last point is the saline errr salient one. 😉

  25. sea-level goes up, when the water is COLDER, not warmer. About 80% of all the water in every sea and ocean combined is below 4C degrees (39F) Water below 4C, when warms up it shrinks – when cools > it expands. Put a bottle of seawater at 4C degrees in your freezer for 2h – will explode… why? It’s all in details on my website. Tragically, water on the polar caps, absorbs much more extra coldness without ice as insulator; but by going into warmer water by the currents – is deep down; will take time to show up. Extra cold N/H winters is the first hint. The truth is completely different than what the propaganda presents. Truth:

    [Moderation note] This is incorrect – From wikipedia: the salt content of oceans lowers the freezing point by about 2 °C and lowers the temperature of the density maximum of water to the freezing point. This is why, in ocean water, the downward convection of colder water is not blocked by an expansion of water as it becomes colder near the freezing point. The oceans’ cold water near the freezing point continues to sink.

  26. Roger Andrews says:


    If you want a really scary satellite SLR correction take a look at Figure 1 of

  27. dear moderator; salt is only impurity / antifreeze. Salt doesn’t interfere with the expansion and shrinking of H2O molecule in change of temperature. If higher impurity, regarding sinking; is because salt attached to H2O molecule makes it heavier. The unit 1kg, as standard is invented by using one litre / 10cm3 of water at 4C. Higher or lower temperature – water expands. Instead of relying on Wikipedia, is easy experiment: just fill a bottle to the top with water at 4C and put it in the freezer. Sodium doesn’t let it freeze, but reaction of water in expanding doesn’t change. (put the bottle in a shopping bag, when explodes not to contaminate your dosages) if you don’t believe me, don’t put it in a bag. The laws of physics have being created long before Wikipedia. Let me tell you a secret: because of that rule of the laws of physics; water on the bottom of Arctic ocean that never see the sunlight, is much warmer, than close to the top. Wikipedia has being created to mislead, not to inform. If you are leaving in a very cold country – fill a bottle to the top of seawater of below zero degrees centigrade and let it warm to 4 degrees above; the water will shrink by about 5%; depends on the impurity. If that is converted in 1km deep ocean, 5% shrinkage in warming = 50m drop!!!!

  28. tallbloke says:

    fill a bottle to the top of seawater of below zero degrees centigrade and let it warm to 4 degrees above; the water will shrink by about 5%

    Hi Stefan,
    Have you performed this experiment yourself? What sort of bottle did you use? Glass? What about the thermal expansion of the bottle increasing it’s volumetric capacity as it warms?

    Here’s a table from a physics course at Bowdoin College:

    As you can see, water with a variety of salt content covering the range of seawater gets denser all the way to -1C, except the 20g/kg sample, which gets 0.001% less dense at -1C


  29. tallbloke, yes I did use a glass bottle. [snip]

    [Reply] So do you accept that expansion of the glass affected your result?

    if you will; fill a bottle with water at +4C, then warm it to 90C, water will overflow out of the bottle. Same reaction when seawater gets from +4C to far below zero. [snip]

    [reply] You are shifting your argument. “far below zero” doesn’t come into this because deep seawater is not below zero.

    I wouldn’t trust Wikipedia as my guide-dog. [snip]

    [reply] Neither would I. It’s ok for things like sea water density though, as the table I show from the Bowdian College physics course demonstrates. Do you accept it?

  30. […] is well in the sea-level measuring world as it seems the IPCC manipulated sea-level observations to preserve the myth of rising sea-levels. More here: In 2003 the satellite altimetry record was mysteriously tilted upwards to imply a […]

  31. Roger Andrews says:


    On the subject of manipulation of sea level observations. A few days ago you said: “I suspect the satellite altimetry is dodgy after 2003 though … Envisat probably gives a truer picture than the Colorado effort.”

    Well, take a good long look at the Envisat sea level record while you still have the chance, because it’s
    going to be “corrected” – and no prizes for guessing which way. It’s going to be shifted upwards to match Jason. Details at: 204%20CV/02%20Pres_REVISED%20OSTST2011_CrossCal_Envisat_AOllivier.pdf

  32. [Snip] Notice that salty water from 4C going to 1C expand, than another degree down shrinks, then expands again.

    [Reply] Read the table again.

    Here is how it goes: when water is getting colder than 4C keeps expanding. Salt increases density weight by 18-25%, but that doesn’t prevent water of expanding. When water decides to expand, she expands; one cup of water can push a locomotive for 200yards.

    [Reply] The incompressibility of the fluid doesn’t affect the rest of our discussion.

    Sunlight doesn’t go deeper than 100m, and that sunlight doesn’t produce any heat.

    [Reply] This is incorrect. All solar wavelengths are capable of producing sensible heat in their interaction with water. The longer wavelengths produce less heat, but they still produce some heat.

    You are spoiled for argument, inserting your comments only inside my comment, but not to others; is because you know that I am the only one on the planet with real proofs about the phony GLOBAL warming; therefore I take it as a compliment, thanks.

    [Reply] Everyone can see the comments I have placed inside yours once comments are approved. They are there because wrong information is corrected where it appears on this site. No-one on THIS planet has ‘real proofs’ about GLOBAL warming, though your point about the regionality of climates is one we all agree with.

  33. […] There is also the human factor: “In 2003 the satellite altimetry record was mysteriously tilted upwards to imply a sudden sea level rise rate of 2.3mm per year. When I criticised this dishonest adjustment at a global warming conference in Moscow, a British member of the IPCC delegation admitted in public the reason for this new calibration: ‘We had to do so, otherwise there would be no trend.’” -Nils -Axel Morner- […]