Sea level Rise Review. Rate Of Rise Depends On Who You Ask. Most Say: “No Alarm”

In the latest video, German climate science site Die kalte Sonne here presents a review of sea level rise.

No one disagrees that sea level is rising. But there’s plenty of disagreement on how fast it’s really rising.

Tide gauges

According to the direct tide gauge measurements, sea level rise has been modest and the rate of rise has changed very little over the past decades.

Since 1990, the rate of rise as measured by tide gauges has increased modestly, but overall the rate of rise as been steady at a rather tame 2.09 mm/year. Note these are direct measurements, made where people actually live.

Satellite measurement 

According satellite altimetry, whose sensor measurements have to be computed, the mean sea level (MSL) rise has been rising faster, at about 3.3 mm/yr and accelerating somewhat:

Because satellites don’t measure directly and use a complex computation to reach a result, the figure is fraught with uncertainty, says Die kalte Sonne.


In December 2020, Potsdam Climate Institute climate alarmist Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf reported in Spiegel that the rate of sea level rise has more than doubled over the past 30 years – going from 2.1 mm/year to 4.8 mm/year:

The reason for the accelerating rise, according to Rahmstorf, is manmade climate change.

But Ramstorf “vehemently contradicted” by Hamlington et al. 

Yet, in 2020, a paper by Hamlington (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Fredrikse and others “vehemently contradicted Rahmstorf”, reports Die kalte Sonne,

“Over the past decades, sea level rise rate has in fact increased in some regions, for example in the western Pacific, but in other regions sea level rise has shown no acceleration,” says Die kalte Sonne.  The western Pacific sea level rise acceleration is due more to the PDO 60-year oceanic cycle.

Die kalte Sonne: “When this natural component gets deducted, there is today still no recognizable unusual acceleration of global sea level.”

Only 1.5 mm/year

In 2018, Frederikse et al published a paper whose results found sea level rise in the South Atlantic Ocean was only 1.5 mm/year between 1958 and 2014.

In summary, when data are analyzed objectively, spectacular sound sea level rise rates – like those of Stefan Rahmstorf in Spiegel magazine – are outliers that cannot be taken too seriously.

40 papers on 2020 tell us not to worry

Recently, Kenneth Richard published a post here at NTZ showing that in 2020 alone 40 papers were published and they tell us there’s no sea level alarm today.

12 responses to “Sea level Rise Review. Rate Of Rise Depends On Who You Ask. Most Say: “No Alarm””

  1. RoHa

    I find it hard to believe that the rise in sea level can be measured in a couple of millimetres. Is it the high or low point of the ripple?

    1. The Indomitable Snowman, Ph.D.

      I’ll second that concern, and it’s been one of my main points of disbelief with regard to the “science” (sic) of “climate change” (sic).

      If you look at this (and a bunch of other “climate” measurements), you never are provided with any sort of plus/minus. Like many of these such things, this smacks of something where the reality is x +/- 10x. In other words, just because you can report tiny numbers doesn’t make them meaningful.

    2. Yonason
  2. DMA

    Willis over at WUWT has an article on the satellite measurements.

  3. Aussie

    Typical of the warmists. In any other science when one has direct measurements one trusts these instead of some indirect measurement that requires all sorts of arithmetic gymnastics. Particularly, in this case where water finds its own level. Hence a rise in one tide gauge (zeroing out for subsidence and land rising) will be seen by all.

    The sea level rise is nothing to worry about and has been trending up slowly for a long time now.

    If you want to see another sea related lie see Joanne Novas old post about ocean “acification” below. To summarise, many sea pH measurements were taken in the past and would suggest, if anything, pH has been static or RISING.

    Not good enough for the warmists – so they “model” past measurements, ignoring the reality and hey presto – an acidification “crisis” is upon us. Forget the actual measurements, and that trilobites and many shelled creatures thrived when CO2 levels were many times the current….and that CO2 Calcium relationships are complex. For instance, I have a background in water treatment, and CO2 is added to drinking water pipelines with lime to REDUCE pipe degradation (the warmists would say it would increase it….)

    1. Yonason

      P.S. – Here are a couple of old links I have on the topic of pH NOTE that the one from the Monterey Bay Aquarium is no longer online, and they are deleting it from the internet archive, so if you want it for a reference, save the PDF.

      Also note that when their measurements begin in 1996 the pH range is 7.75-7.98, and when they end in 2009 it’s …. wait for it …. 7.9-8.0! Hmmm. Seems to be going the wrong way (no wonder they don’t want us to see that).

      1. Yonason

        Typo correction…

        “7.9-8.0!” should read “7.8-8.0!” (still “going the wrong way, but only by a bit. Definitely no decreasing over the 13 years shown in that graph.

  4. Yonason

    ”…CO2 Calcium relationships are complex.”

    In the Cambrian, during which the Earth’s temperature was as high as it ever gets, and the [CO2] was higher than it’s ever been since, Trilobites and all other complex life forms appear for the first time in the fossil record, some of them having Calcite (Calcium carbonate) eyes, which didn’t dissolve in the ocean water.

    There are some interesting observations on the motives of those telling us we’re acidifying the oceans, here.

  5. Orson

    Atlimetric measurement of sea level suffers from two major defects.

    The first one is this: there is no “standard candle” by which different satellite instruments can be gauged and compared to keep their data sets consistent.

    This problem was identified by Jet Propulsion Laboratories at Caltech in California.
    The solution proposed there involves launching a satellite to a geostationary Lagrange point to take measurements of different earth observing satellites.
    But when the Obama Administration ended in 2016, “Project GRASP” was quietly scrubbed from the internet.

    Apparently, this failing was too damning to be admitted.

    Meanwhile, at Project Jason at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where satellite altimetry is conducted, the fact that the data is adjusted to confirm the politically correct AGW narrative is well known among graduate students working there. (I studied at the University myself, having lived in Boulder, Colorado some twenty years myself.)

    Taken together, this is “science” that is not only an outlier but that can be properly rubbished. Like too much “global warming science,” this is a waste of taxpayer money.

  6. Lasse

    Change in change , that is acceleration.
    So why not show this:
    Acceleration and decrease in a periodicity.
    No CO2 connection-sorry!

    1. Yonason

      LOL. Nice find.

  7. Gus

    Tide gauges show 2.09 mm/yr (some authors claim 1.2 mm/yr only). Satellites show 3.3 mm/yr, some even as much as much as 4.8 mm/yr.

    Why the difference? Here’s my explanation. Tide gauges measure the sea level variability near the shore whereas satellites measure the sea level variability over the whole surface of the ocean. Why is the sea level rise lower near the shore then? It is so because the ocean is gravitationally pinned by continental plates around its edges, so it cannot flex there as much as it can over the abyssal zone. Its surface is like a trampoline that’s tied firmly to the frame around the edges, but bouncing in the middle.

    So, why is the ocean bouncing in the middle? It is mostly because of the movement of the abyssal plain. The Earth is more like a rubber ball than a marble one. The abyssal plain covers more than 50% of the Earth’s surface, and affects the sea level everywhere as it flexes in response to a combination of pressures underneath it and tides exerted on it by the Moon and the Sun.

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