Literature Review: Obama Administration’s Sea Level Rise Far Remote Of Mainstream Science. Natural Variability Unaccounted For!

U. of Southampton: We won’t know whether or not sea level is accelerating until 2020-2030. Mojib Latif: models must first take natural variability much more into account

By Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt
(Translated and edited by P Gosselin)

Forecasts have long since fascinated man. There’s something mystical about looking into the future. The oracle of Delphi, a look into the crystal ball, reading tea leaves: indeed the error rate is high, yet that does not deter people from paying more money for more far-fetched predictions.

The website has taken on the task of putting climate change predictions on the test stand to see whether or not they have anything to do with reality. One nice example is sea level rise. Currently sea level is rising 2 – 3 mm per year, and if the trend remains stable, a sea level rise of 25 cm is expected by the end of the century. However this does not keep some attention-seekers from announcing much higher rises to the public. At the website here you will find a highly interesting list of prognoses.

Australian climate scientist John Church predicted 3 m by 2100. For others that figure is much too low, and we are threatened instead with 7 m – or even 100 m! We almost get the impression that the higher the bid, the better the chances of winning – at least that’s the impression we get from the media.

Serious studies show just how absurd the sea level rise bidding has become. Within the framework of a European research program supported by a total of 10 million euros, a consortium of 24 institutes investigated scenarios for future sea level rise. Participating among them was the Bremerhaven-based Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI). The main aim of the 2009 to 2013 ice2sea program was to quantify the melting of land-based ice masses. In May 2013 the researchers presented their Final Report (pdf here). The consortium of scientists concluded that the most probable scenario for sea level by the end of the century is a rise of only between 16.5 cm and 69 cm. That was a bitter disappointment for the alarmists in the field.

So what purpose do the alarmist prognoses serve? Some originate from government organizations, who use them to prop up their aggressive climate policy aims. In the USA the Obama Administration warned of a rise of a rise of 2.10 m by the end of the century – far remote of the mainstream science.

The most recent IPCC report also appears to have lost all contact to reality, which despite all the careful prognoses found in the scientific literature, claims there is a rising danger from sea level rise. Here people like to look 2000 years into the future, absolute nonsense when one considers the numerous poorly known sea level trends.

Who is finally going to blow the whistle on the shrill alarmists and their predictions of a coming flood? When prognoses are far beyond the fringes of the accepted range, it should cause us to stop, think and cast doubt on apocalypse forecasters. For the press they couldn’t care less and gladly view it as a convenient source of attention-grabbing spectacular climate stories.

Within the scientific community, however, scientists see the predictability of sea level far more critically. In March 2015 a group of scientists lead by Mohammad Bordbar – which also included Mojb Latif – published a study that took the natural variability of sea level into greater account. The abstract of the paper stated that we can no longer continue to ignore these processes. The paper appeared in Nature Climate Change. The abstract reads:

“Effects of long-term variability on projections of twenty-first century dynamic sea level
Sea-level rise1 is one of the most pressing aspects of anthropogenic global warming with far-reaching consequences for coastal societies. However, sea-level rise did2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and will strongly vary from coast to coast8, 9, 10. Here we investigate the long-term internal variability effects on centennial projections of dynamic sea level (DSL), the local departure from the globally averaged sea level. A large ensemble of global warming integrations has been conducted with a climate model, where each realization was forced by identical CO2 increase but started from different atmospheric and oceanic initial conditions. In large parts of the mid- and high latitudes, the ensemble spread of the projected centennial DSL trends is of the same order of magnitude as the globally averaged steric sea-level rise, suggesting that internal variability cannot be ignored when assessing twenty-first-century DSL trends. The ensemble spread is considerably reduced in the mid- to high latitudes when only the atmospheric initial conditions differ while keeping the oceanic initial state identical; indicating that centennial DSL projections are strongly dependent on ocean initial conditions.”

Natural variability currently makes it impossible to determine if the speed of sea level rise is beyond the range of natural variability. The University of Southampton also explicitly reports this in a press release dated 9 May 2014. It is necessary to first understand the natural processes and to account for them in the development of sea level rise before an anthropogenic signal can be identified and quantified. It’s indeed going to take another 5 to 15 years before scientists are able to decide whether or not sea level rise has accelerated in an unusual manner. What follows is the press release in its entirety:

“Back to the future to determine if sea level rise is accelerating

Scientists have developed a new method for revealing how sea levels might rise around the world throughout the 21st century to address the controversial topic of whether the rate of sea level rise is currently increasing.

The international team of researchers, led by the University of Southampton and including scientists from the National Oceanography Centre, the University of Western Australia, the University of South Florida, the Australian National University and the University of Siegen in Germany, analysed data from 10 long-term sea level monitoring stations located around the world. They looked into the future to identify the timing at which sea level accelerations might first be recognised in a significant manner.
Lead author Dr Ivan Haigh, Lecturer in Coastal Oceanography at the University of Southampton, says: “Our results show that by 2020 to 2030, we could have some statistical certainty of what the sea level rise situation will look like for the end of the century. That means we’ll know what to expect and have 70 years to plan. In a subject that has so much uncertainty, this gives us the gift of long-term planning.

“As cities, including London, continue to plan for long-term solutions to sea level rise, we will be in a position to better predict the long-term situation for the UK capital and other coastal areas across the planet. Scientists should continue to update the analysis every 5 to 10 years, creating more certainty in long-term planning — and helping develop solutions for a changing planet.”
The study found that the most important approach to the earliest possible detection of a significant sea level acceleration lies in improved understanding (and subsequent removal) of interannual (occurring between years, or from one year to the next) to multidecadal (involving multiple decades) variability in sea level records.

“The measured sea levels reflect a variety of processes operating at different time scales,” says co-author Dr Francisco Calafat, from the National Oceanography Centre. He adds, “One of the main difficulties in detecting sea level accelerations is the presence of decadal and multi-decadal variations. For example, processes associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation have a strong influence on the sea levels around the UK over multi-decadal periods. Such processes introduce a large amount of ‘noise’ into the record, masking any underlying acceleration in the rate of rise. Our study shows, that by adequately understanding these processes and removing their influence, we can detect accelerations much earlier.”

Co-author Professor Eelco Rohling, from the Australian National University and formerly of the University of Southampton, adds: “By developing a novel method that realistically approximates future sea level rise, we have been able to add new insight to the debate and show that there is substantial evidence for a significant recent acceleration in the sea level rise on a global and regional level. However, due to the large ‘noise’ signals at some local coastal sites, it won’t be until later this decade or early next decade before the accelerations in sea level are detection at these individual tide gauge sites.”

The findings of the study, funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council (iGlass consortium), are published in this months issue of the journal Nature Communications.”


7 responses to “Literature Review: Obama Administration’s Sea Level Rise Far Remote Of Mainstream Science. Natural Variability Unaccounted For!”

  1. Richard111

    My layman calculation makes it 400,000 cubic kilometres of ice must melt, off the land only, to raise global sea levels by just 1 metre. Each succeeding metre will require more ice as the low lying land is covered and total sea area increases. Now calculate the energy required. It is very simple. The problem is how to get that energy to where it is needed over the required timescale. I say sea level rise as predicted is not possible. Lets hear it from the experts.

  2. sod

    the Wegener links are dead in this post and the source (and i also think at the wegener institute).

    I would like to have direct citations, before i accept that there is a contradiction between the numbers cited in this article. (high and low numbers could just be for different places and different scenarios).

    1. DirkH

      Please read the error message and try to make sense of it. (I know, a tall order for some)

      “The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.”

      It looks like whoever it is we the peons are being forced to finance at is unwilling to maintain his servers.

      1. DirkH

        Here, so that you finally trust us. It looks like there were indeed times were the Wegener people had their server up!*/

  3. Robert Folkerts

    Sea level rise must surely be expected irrespective of ice melt. The vast quantities of sediments carried by the earths many rivers must then displace water. Erosion has always been with us and will not stop!

  4. sod

    “The ice2sea projections based on simulations of physical processes suggest lower overall contributions from melting ice to sea-level rise than many studies published since AR4. They suggest a contribution of 3.5 – 36.8cm to global mean sea-level rise to the year 2100 for a “business as usual” mid-range emissions scenario (A1B). To obtain a projection of total global sea-level rise, other contributions, not explicitly addressed by ice2sea, must be added (e.g. thermal expansion of the oceans, and changes in terrestrial water storage). For the period after 2100, sea levels will continue to rise, initially at an accelerating rate, for many centuries.”

    Thanks for the link. Can you spot the problems?

    For example in comparison with these numbers:

  5. Adrian O

    Church and White (2011) write that
    – the sea gauges show no acceleration whatsoever, as found by all the previous studies, but
    – we should include in our account the amount of water in hydropower dams, which accelerated as more and more of those dams filled up. That would give a not so huge acceleration of 0.009 mm/year^2.

    What they FORGOT to say is that after a peak in 1971, the amount of NEW dam capacity DECREASED abruptly. Which means that if we add the dam water to the ocean, since 1971 we have serious DECELERATION, not acceleration.

    If you add every year a huge amount of dam capacity, but the same huge amount, you get a change in slope, but no acceleration.

    You get an acceleration if every year you build MORE capacity than the previous year. That is clearly not the case, since 1971.

    In any case, what matters for humans who live on sea shores is what is measured at sea shores, and that is no acceleration for a century.

    In the CAFE document, the EPA evaluated that $1000 billion would change sea levels by 1mm in a century, i.e. instead of the seas rising by 1ft, they would rise by 1ft minus 1 mm. More recently, the EPA decided to keep such evaluations secret.

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