Nicola Scafetta: Major new sea level study – finds C21st rise likely to be less than a foot.

Posted: April 23, 2013 by tallbloke in Analysis, Cycles, data, Dataset, Forecasting, Natural Variation, Ocean dynamics, solar system dynamics, Tides

Congratulations to Nicola Scafetta, who has successfully published a new paper on sea level rise Multi-scale dynamical analysis (MSDA) of sea level recordsversus PDO, AMO, and NAO indexes in the  journal Climate Dynamics. This is a major paper, which undertakes a comprehensive review of recent studies, which diverge widely in their findings. He finds that the main reason for divergence is the length of records used in studies, and shows that the quasi-cyclic oscillations of the major ocean basins largely account for the differences in those studies conclusions. Developing a powerful analysis technique with strong visualisation, it is shown that the periodicity of the major oscillations, being 60 to 70 years, require a minimum record length of around 110 years in order to prevent polynomial fitting of long term secular trends being contaminated with shorter term quasi-cyclic variation. Using tide gauge records going back as far as 1700, Nicola compares the trends in sea level rise acceleration at widely spread geographical locations once the quasi-cyclic components are removed and finds the long term global average to be very small – around 0.01mm/yr. Very little difference is found between acceleration rates between the pre and post industrial eras. It is suggested the acceleration is a natural variation due to the recovery from the little ice age as part of a quasi millennial cycle which may continue until the mid C21st. In conclusion the study suggests that sea level rise during the C21st will be around 277+/-7mm, or about 9 inches.


Fig. 10 a Global sea level record (Jevrejeva et al. 2008) (left) and its
MSAA colored diagram (right).

Multi-scale dynamical analysis (MSDA) of sea level recordsversus PDO, AMO, and NAO indexes
N. Scafetta

Received: 24 February 2013 / Accepted: 10 April 2013  Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Herein I propose a multi-scale dynamical analysis to facilitate the physical interpretation of tide gauge records. The technique uses graphical diagrams. It is applied to six secular-long tide gauge records representative of the world oceans: Sydney, Pacific coast of Australia; Fremantle, Indian Ocean coast of Australia; New York City, Atlantic coast of USA; Honolulu, US state of Hawaii; San Diego, US state of California; and Venice, Mediterranean Sea, Italy. For comparison, an equivalent analysis is applied to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) index and to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index. Finally, a global reconstruction of sea level (Jevrejeva et al. in Geophys Res Lett 35:L08715, 2008) and a reconstruction of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index (Luterbacher et al. in Geophys Res Lett 26:2745–2748, 1999) are analyzed and compared: both sequences cover about three centuries from 1700 to 2000.

The proposed methodology quickly highlights oscillations and teleconnections among the records at the decadal and multidecadal scales. At the secular time scales tide gauge records present relatively small (positive or negative) accelerations, as found in other studies (Houston and Dean in J Coast Res 27:409–417, 2011). On the contrary, from the decadal to the secular scales (up to 110-year intervals) the tide gauge accelerations oscillate significantly from positive to negative values mostly following the PDO, AMO and NAO oscillations. In particular, the influence of a large quasi 60–70 year natural oscillation is clearly demonstrated in these records. The multiscale dynamical evolutions of the rate and of the amplitude of the annual seasonal cycle of the chosen six tide gauge records are also studied.

Keywords Tide gauge and sea level records  PDO, AMO and NAO indexes  Climate oscillations  Dynamical analysis of time series  Multi-scale analysis of time series  Physical couplings and teleconnections

From the conclusion:

In conclusion, at scales shorter than 100-years, the measured tide gauge accelerations are strongly driven by the natural oscillations of the climate system (e.g. PDO, AMO and NAO). At the smaller scales (e.g. at the decadal and bi-decadal scale) they are characterized by a large volatility due to significant decadal and bi-decadal climatic oscillations (Scafetta 2009, 2010, 2012a; Manzi et al. 2012). Therefore, accelerations, as well as linear rates evaluated using a few decades of data (e.g. during the last 20-60 years) cannot be used for constructing reliable longrange projections of sea-level for the twenty first century. The oscillating natural patterns need to be included in the models for producing reliable forecasts at multiple time scales. The proposed MSDA methodologies (e.g. MSAA, MSRA and MSACAA) provide a comprehensive picture to comparatively study dynamical patterns in tide gauge records. The techniques can be efficiently used for a quick and robust study of alternative climatic sequences as well.


  1. tallbloke says:

    Paul Vaughan alerted me to Nicola’s paper just after Nicola did. We must be on the same mailing list. 🙂

    He emailed me again later and included this simple verification, without letting me know what datasets he’d used.

  2. Interesting that the satellite trend is almost exactly the same, after stripping out the dishonest isostatic adjustment of 0.3mm pa.

  3. Paul Vaughan says:

    Same datasets TB. Coherence of Scafetta’s Figure 10 [A2] & [B2] stood out as the most interesting observation in the paper. Verification was effortless.

    We’ve discussed the interesting Fremantle sea level / PDO relationship here at the Talkshop before — see Figure 1 here for an eye-opener:

    Feng, M.; Böning, C.; Biastoch, A.; Behrens, E.; Weller, E.; & Masumoto, Y. (2011). The reversal of the multi-decadal trends of the equatorial Pacific easterly winds, and the Indonesian Throughflow and Leeuwin Current transports. Geophysical Research Letters 38, L11604. doi:10.1029/2011GL047291.

    Click to access 2011FengGRL.pdf

  4. Paul Vaughan says:

    Scafetta links to the data in the appendix.

    I suggest that Nicola cross Figures 10A2 & 10B2 to further accent the coherence. (It’s a simple enough calculation.)

  5. Paul Vaughan says:

    Scafetta doesn’t mention it in the paper, but it’s the wind forcing that’s totally wrong in the climate models. That’s why they 100% fail at multidecadal forecasting.

  6. Paul Vaughan says:

    Strong bidecadal signal @ Honolulu — Figure 7[A2].
    Note well location near spatial zero-phase in Figure 5.

    Related: ~20 year north-south movement of westerlies affects Japanese sea level.

  7. vukcevic says:

    Well done Dr. Scafetta.
    Coming from an area where parts of the coast have sank by about two meters (2000mm) since Roman times, their road building efforts are well below water line, I soften get baffled by all the fuss about the few mm sea level rise or fall.

  8. Ulric Lyons says:

    The NAO reconstruction must be based on CET:

    I can’t see this being valid with the +NAO cluster and warmer CET from 1818 to 1835:

    It’s interesting looking at the warm periods of 1727-38, 1775-83, 1818-34, and from 1911 on the sea level plot:
    And look what it did through Dalton.

  9. Roger, thank you for the rapid post! you are faster than me in writing papers!

    Just a few comments:

    About Paul’s comments.
    The wind’s comment is right. However the NAO is defined as the average air pressure difference between a low latitude region (e.g.Azores) and a high latitude region (e.g. Iceland).
    Thus, it is related to the winds.

    Cross-correlations are calculated in the paper.

    About Ulric’s comment on NAO, The used NAO index is base on numerous proxies, not just CET, and on actual pressure measurements. See also this paper:

    Mazzarella A. and N. Scafetta, 2012. Evidences for a quasi 60-year North Atlantic Oscillation since 1700 and its meaning for global climate change. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 107, 599-609.

    Click to access Mazzarella-Scafetta-60-yr.pdf

  10. Doug Proctor says:

    Ooops. How will McKibben and Gore, Hansen and Schmidt handle this?

    The problem with sea-level studies is not just the sea-level, but that they (this) goes completely against CAGW. Scarfetta goes against the disaster narrative because he isolates the sea-level changes from climate change in the general and CO2 in the specific.

    Sea-level rise is, within the IPCC narrative, a consequence of warming, not a component of coming out of the LIA of which a temperature rise is one aspect. By saying the seas are going to rise by 1 foot by 2100, he is saying that the recent and current rise is a reflection of a non-acceleration process. Since we know CO2 is accelerating, since 1850, not just 1940, sea level rise cannot be the cause of sea-level rise by itself (obviously a non-issue), but not by any temperature increase, including the post 1975 period.

    In other words, Scarfetta is saying that the 20th and 21st temperature rise does not show up in sea-level rise, a rise that CAGW believers point to as “proof” that temperature and therefore CO2 is/are responsible.

    Furthermore, the mainstream say that satellite records refute tidal records. The mainstream say that they “observe” (actually, calculate) Greenland and Antarctic ice loss which “proves” the component of sea-level rise due to temperature induced ice mass. This has two problems for the CAGW crowd: first, that high technology does not reflect reality, i.e. satellites are poorer than men-with-a-mark-on-the-wall, and second, that calculations are not reality, i.e. the models are inadequate and have failed.

    CAGW science has come to have a fundamental conflict with observation-based science. The Procedure is sacrosanct, a position in which the intellect-heavy way under which certainty and representation of reality is determined has more credibility than any system that involves physical measurement. It is not just tidal guages here, not just radiosondes in balloons, not just how many polar bears cross the ice at Churchill each winter. It is that men and women determine the information with their own eyes and ears, filtering as their “subjective” professional experience recommends: this method is messy and not subject to tweaked dials and knobs.

    We are in an age wherein the computer trumps the brain. Years ago, GIGO – Garbage in, Garbage Out – was a recognized phenomenon. Jobs probably is responsible for whitewashing GIGO, telling us that computers were now perfect. Algorithms now replace good data (think both Mann and Marcott, how such bizarre collections of profiles become one smooth profile with impossibly constrained error bars). If it wasn’t first uploaded, it has no business being downloaded, apparently.

    Asimov, in his Foundation Trilogy, had a renown “scientist” say that they no longer needed to collect data (observations) themselves, because the quality of the previous investigators and investigations was more than sufficient. One only needed to review collected interpretations. We have come to that fictional place: metaanalyses are now considered “new”. Pull 73 previous studies together, actually, pull the RESULTS of 73 previous studies together, pool them and get a statistically correct synthesis, and you have new evidence: that is the claim, and the claim has legs (If you think climatology is bad for this, look to the medical or phamacological studies.)

    I’d say the claim that statistical manipulation improves what you learn from raw data is true when what you are looking for is the needle in the haystack. CAGW is not a needle in a haystack, but the haystack itself. If the raw data doesn’t show it, if you require space launches and side-by-side Cray processing to tweeze out the situation, there is no situation. Our love for easy work at a desk is crippling us.

    But then, what do I know: I’m a geologist who believes in looking at the rocks, the raw data of my profession, with my own eyes, making my own interpretations AND determinations of relevancy. So old school it’s embarassing.

  11. Ulric Lyons says:


    Around 1880 is the most negative NAO on the series, and the lowest land temperatures since 1740. And again around 1940 is very negative NAO and low land temperatures. They are in opposition to the SST spikes there.
    The astronomical causes of the cold events around 1880 and around 1940 are different, and neither cycle on a 60yr basis, and the event sequences that follow these cold clusters are not alike. The 1880’s were mostly very cold, and the 1940’s turned warmer. If you look 30yrs on from 1880 there is no dip in land temperatures as there is in the 1970’s:

    Also we can go 60yr extra both ways to around 1821 and 2000, and the configurations were both warm events as opposed to the cold events at 1880 and 1940.

  12. to Ulric Lyons,

    the 1880s were cold in some regions also because of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.

    which was quite massive.

    However, when the global temperature are considered, the 1880s were a local warm peak very similar to the 1940s. But the upward trending should also be considered.

    About the 1820, the discourse is more complex because there are other oscillations than the 60-year cycles. There is a 85 year cycle and a 115-year cycle, among others, that interfere. In any case the massive 1815 Tambora Explosion has also messed the patterns during that period.

    Some of the above issues are explained in other papers of mine:

    Scafetta N., 2012. Multi-scale harmonic model for solar and climate cyclical variation throughout the Holocene based on Jupiter-Saturn tidal frequencies plus the 11-year solar dynamo cycle. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 80, 296-311.

    Scafetta N., and R. C. Willson, 2013. Planetary harmonics in the historical Hungarian aurora record (1523–1960). Planetary and Space Science 78, 38-44. DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2013.01.005

    Scafetta, N., O. Humlum, J.-E. Solheim, and K. Stordahl, 2013. Comment on “The influence of planetary attractions on the solar tachocline” by Callebaut, de Jager and Duhau. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar–Terrestrial Physics. in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.jastp.2013.03.007.

  13. vukcevic says:

    Based on the recent (since 1950) instrumental data, I would consider only the winter NAO to be reliable metric, as can be concluded from here:
    note: Reykjavik pressure is inverted

  14. Ulric Lyons says:

    1879-92 was very cold, apart from 1883-84 which was warm, and were the Krakatoa years.
    The 1880 and 1940 peaks globally are the negative feedback of ENSO, as is the dip at 1910.
    The best analogue in sight for 1821 is 2000, 179yrs later. By 1818 there are no more effects of Tambora.

  15. At Ulric Lyons,

    the interpretation of the patterns is complex. In the present paper I am not studying in details what happened during the periods you are pointing out using the data you are using.

    The arguments addressed in my papers are based on the data studied in the papers. Here the AMO index has a peak in 1870-1890 on the 60-year time scales .

    About your claim “By 1818 there are no more effects of Tambora” I would not be so sure. There are many linear and nonlinear effects to need to be taken into account.

  16. Ulric Lyons says:

    It’s the same NAO recon and 1877, 1879, 1880, 1885 and 1963 have the lowest readings:

  17. Ulric,

    I think that you are messing up the things a little bit. In Figure 10 of my paper showing the SL and NAO it is also written that the correlation is “negative”. Note that the color indexes are inverted

    You may also read this paper, figure 8

    Click to access Mazzarella-Scafetta-60-yr.pdf

  18. Ulric Lyons says:


    But you have SST directly correlated to NAO?

  19. vukcevic says:

    re LOD:
    Short term changes (~ 1ms) are attributed to the atmospheric circulation, while the changes in the LOD on the decadal scale (~ 5 ms) are mainly due to the liquid core.where the Earth’s main magnetic field is generated (Jault 1988; Mouel 1991, Bloxham 2006). The Earth’s glaciation and deglaciation cycles cause LOD acceleration or deceleration on the multi-millennial scale (Lambeck1980, Sabadini 1981; Wahr 1993).

  20. Roger Andrews says:

    I don’t know whether it makes any difference to the conclusions, but the PSMSL sea level records Nicola uses are uncorrected – i.e they measure relative sea level rise – while the Jevrejeva at al data have been corrected using GIA adjustments in an attempt to simulate absolute or geocentric SLR. About half of the SLR shown by Jevrejeva during C 20 is in fact generated by these adjustments.

  21. This is a similar comment to one I made on WUWT.

    I am very surprised that no one (until now and me) has made the comparsion between the wall of denial the global warmists have built and the Berlin Wall. The Berlin wall collapsed almost overnigh; hopefully ths climate wall will collapse as quickly. This study is another crack in the very base of the warmists wall.

  22. vukcevic says:

    In past I have commented about the ’60 year’ periodicity. Although such period does exist within the Jupiter-Saturn orbital relationship, it is not readily perceived in the longer term climate records.
    However, the 350 year CET record variability (to a degree supported by the geological records from N. Atlantic) suggests existence of somewhat unstable oscillation with variable periodicity

  23. At Vukcevic,

    as I have extensively demonstrated in my paper the 60-year cycle is just one of the astronomical cycles that influence climate. There are other cycles such as the 85 year cycle andthe 115 year cycle and so on, that interfere producing complex patterns.

    read these papers

    Scafetta N., and R. C. Willson, 2013. Planetary harmonics in the historical Hungarian aurora record (1523–1960). Planetary and Space Science 78, 38-44.

    Scafetta N., 2012. Multi-scale harmonic model for solar and climate cyclical variation throughout the Holocene based on Jupiter-Saturn tidal frequencies plus the 11-year solar dynamo cycle. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 80, 296-311.

  24. vukcevic says:

    Dr. Scafetta
    I have read both papers, certain sections more than one time. My research shows that the frequency with period of ~ 65 years ( ’60-year cycle’ ) is not a fundamental natural oscillation, it is a result of cross-modulation of two magnetic fields geo- and solar, capable of a faithfully reconstructing the AMO and N. Hemisphere de-trended temperatures since 1880 (NOAA, GISS, and SIDC data).
    By using two instead of four components (Scafetta:9.1, 10–10.5, 20–21, 60–62) the geo-solar method is somewhat less susceptible to the von Neumann’s elephant syndrome claim.
    For the upward trend since 1660 (e.g. CET), if interested, see today’s post on WUWT .
    As far as the Sun v.s. Jupiter-Saturn relationship is concerned, again there is no need for over-complex requirements; the meridional flow (Wang and Solanki) driven by the J-S electromagnetic feedback (Vukcevic) does the job
    “Nothing in nature is by chance. Something appears to be chance only because of our lack of knowledge.” Spinoza

  25. vukcevic,

    we have discuss quite a bit this issue also on other blogs.

    I do remain with my idea that you are simply trying to push your opinion by systematically misinterpreting my results. In general if somebody finds a kind of correlation does not by itself demonstrates that everybody else interpreting the data in a different way must be automatically wrong as you usually argue.

    In any case, I strongly invite you to promote your ideas within a formal paper. If the paper is well written and and the arguments are reasonable it can be published in some journal. One does not need to be in a university or in a research center for publishing paper.

    If you do not promote your ideas in some formal way where the issues are clearly exposed, people may not even understand what you are trying to say.

    So, please try to write a paper.

  26. Paul Vaughan says:

    Nicola, what do you think about the prospects of leveraging differential long-run conditional convergence to map coupling as outlined here:

    Click to access sugihara-causality-science-2012.pdf

    Click to access Sugihara.SM.pdf

  27. vukcevic says:

    Nicola Scafetta says:
    @ vukcevic: I do remain with my idea that you are simply trying to push your opinion by systematically misinterpreting my results.

    Dr. Scafetta
    One could be wrong (at same time) on a number of accounts, e.g.. for solar electro-magnetic activity the weaker gravity force can’t measure up against, many orders of magnitude stronger, electric and magnetic forces.

  28. At Vukcevic,

    as I said above “I do remain with my idea that you are simply trying to push your opinion by systematically misinterpreting my results.”

    in my papers I also talk about the possibility of electric and magnetic forces. However, the gravity forces may act on the core of the sun where their effect may be greatly amplified by nuclear fusion.

    So both gravitational and electric and magnetic effects may be possible.

  29. Ulric Lyons says:

    Nicola Scafetta says:

    “However, when the global temperature are considered, the 1880s were a local warm peak very similar to the 1940s”

    At 1879-81 and 1940-42 there were clusters of very cold events, the global temperature peaks then are the ENSO overshoot response to the weak solar signal. These nodes did both involve Jupiter and Saturn, and other bodies too, which is why they stood out so, and also why their return period is not 60yrs. That there is no cluster of cold land temperatures at the Ju/Sa conjunct of 2000 proves the point. What occurs between these essentially unrelated 60yr apart nodes is not really a cycle either, it’s an event sequence of many other configurations.

  30. vukcevic says:

    Ulric Lyons says:
    That there is no cluster of cold land temperatures at the Ju/Sa conjunct of 2000 proves the point.

    Ju/Sa ‘conjunctions’ make more sense, at least to me, when two planets are lined up along the solar wind’s Parker spiral
    Unexpectedly, the dips in solar activity around 1800+, then 1900+ are clearly identified, whether the expected minimum in late 2020s is going to fall in line remains to be seen.
    I am inclined to think that this sun-Ju/Su electro-magnetic spiral link is the most likely source of a feedback, modulating or synchronizing solar activity. Solar wind intensity/velocity change and its influence on the earth’s climate at these specific times, I wouldn’t hazard a guess.

  31. Ulric Lyons says:

    @ vukcevic

    I see too much going on at syzygies to warrant considering connections along the spiral.
    Also take a look at the “top view” movie here:

    On the relationship of Saturn to the sunspot cycle, to satisfy Hale phase, the full return period is ~200yrs, as the E-V conjuncts are in line with the J-S conjuncts around 1680 and 1880, but E-V oppositions are in line with the J-S conjuncts around 1760/1780 and 1960/80.

  32. Paul Vaughan says:

    From Corbyn’s WeatherAction newsletter of today:
    “Summer 2012 in Britain, Ireland & Europe was like 1816, ‘The year without a summer’, and similar summers around then in the last Mini-Ice-Age. […] the Sun-Earth particle-magnetic relationship and lunar modulation described by Piers Corbyn’s ‘Solar Lunar Action Technique’ (SLAT) of long range forecasting were similar. This is why: (i) the Jet stream was thrashing around in a similar extreme fashion then and now giving predictably very wet summers cold Springs and failed crops; (ii) the phase and patterns of ocean circulation and stratospheric winds were similar so then as now increased North-South ocean currents sent mild water into the Arctic melting ice from underneath – […]. The Royal Society reported to the Admiralty in 1817 that the Arctic ice had “Greatly abated in the last 2 years” (probably to less than now). “Then as now these Mini-Ice Age conditions were driven by predictable solar-lunar effects”, said Piers Corbyn astrophysicist. “We predicted last summer, winter and this Spring. […]””

    Note how well 2012 – 1816 = 196 years matches Ulric Lyons’ comments, which translate as:

    (22.10928125)*(19.86377916) / (22.10928125 – 19.86377916)
    = 195.5793682 years

  33. tallbloke says:

    195 years is around midway between the Jose cycle length and the de Vries cycle length.

  34. Ulric Lyons says:


    On the 1880’s cooling, Silverman notes a decline in Aurora from 1877 to 1892, which is when land temperatures fell much lower from, as did the Ap index:

    Any cooling from Krakatoa was completely overwhelmed by the stronger solar signal in 1884, land temperatures where high, and SST’s showed a La Nina type response instead of the usual El Nino response to cooling from stratospheric aerosols:

    The very lowest land temperatures in the period are right where they should be, at the big Ap dips that happen just after solar cycle minima, 1879-81 and 1890-92:

  35. tallbloke says:

    Ulric: I think any discussion of that period concerning SST and solar input needs the wider context of the big el ninos at solar min either side.

  36. Ulric Lyons says:

    Paul Vaughan

    It’s nearer 124 E-V synods, ~198.24yrs.
    And to be fair, Piers didn’t anticipate how cold March would turn out.

  37. Ulric Lyons says:

    tallbloke: you can see the same pattern on the following dips in SST too at 1893/4, 1898, 1903 and 1911:
    they were the warmer years on CET:

  38. Ulric Lyons says:

    Or 198.58yrs going by J-S synods.

  39. tallbloke says:

    To me, the plot mainly confirms that there are 3 ENSO cycles per solar cycle.

  40. tallbloke says:

    Since Nicola Scafetta seems to be off Anthony Watts Christmas card list, he has found another sea level study to make the point:

    In a new analysis published in Volume 8 Issue 2 of Environmental Science Dr. Nils-Axel Morner suggests global sea levels will rise only about 5 inches by the year 2100.

    Axel Morner concludes that Australian government claims of a 1 meter sea level rise by 2100 are greatly exaggerated, finding instead that sea levels are rising around Australia and globally at a rate of only 1.5 mm/year. This would imply a sea level change of only 0.13 meters or 5 inches by 2100. Dr. Morner also finds no evidence of any acceleration in sea level rise around Australia or globally.

  41. Paul Vaughan says:

    Ulric, yes, I had noticed the event series (not just the long-term averages). Also noteworthy:

    JEV = 11.05464062
    SEV = 9.016173003

    18 * JEV = 198.9835312
    22 * SEV = 198.3558061

    I cracked the code of Jean Dickey’s LF ENSO 2 days ago.

    (I may share something more about that if TB can find a minute to upload 2 e-mailed graphs to my recent update / closing comment in the solar rotation JEV thread.)

    Explaining concisely will be a formidable challenge.

  42. Paul Vaughan says:

    Ian Wilson & Nikolay Sidorenkov have released a new paper:

    Click to access TOASCJ130415001.pdf

  43. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Paul, I’m putting together an article about this new paper.

  44. Ulric Lyons says:

    ” It is suggested the acceleration is a natural variation due to the recovery from the little ice age as part of a quasi millennial cycle which may continue until the mid C21st.”

    That would depend very much on what really happens to temperatures through the next few decades. Some glacier advance would make a big difference to sea level variations.