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Sea level rise and NASA

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Tim88

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As mentioned in last month's blog, I now started to look into the Global Warming controversy.

Most of the issues are extremely complex and hard to judge for outsiders. But when reading discussions, I stumbled on a comprehensive overview of global sea tide gauges which measure directly the rise and fall of sea water with respect to the coast:

http://sealevel.info/MSL_global_thumbnails5.html

Please do click on the link and hover your mouse over each graph to see its location. It's very neat: with one mouse click you get a full page plot and with one more click you can see the most recent update directly on the data source site.

What was surprising to me, is that overall the tendencies look quite steady over the last hundred years [edit: even over 150 years], including the last decades.

When combined with GPS data, we can also estimate the net sea level rise; however I found that that isn't yet very robust. Here follow two examples (available for some stations, from "Nearby GNSS Stations from SONEL"):

- Warnemunde2: Sea level relative to land ca. +1.25 mm/year and GPS Land height ca. +0.65 mm/yr. Thus "absolute" sea level rise ca. 1.9 mm/yr.
- Marseille: Sea level relative to land ca. 1.28 mm/yr, GPS Land height very messy signal from two detectors, but apparently ca. 0 mm/yr. "absolute" seal level rise ca. 1.3 mm/yr.

I think that in principle such outcomes should be approximately the same, but overall it appears to be around 1.5 mm/yr over the last decades. That's not far off from what I also saw stated in several video presentations on Internet such as by Thomas Wysmuller, who found 1.1 mm/yr from such data.

Now compare that information with some NASA news from last year (sorry to pick on NASA again, it just happened to catch my attention!):

'Global sea level rise has been accelerating in recent decades, rather than increasing steadily, according to a new study based on 25 years of NASA and European satellite data. [..] If the rate of ocean rise continues to change at this pace, sea level will rise 26 inches (65 centimeters) by 2100 -- enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities, according to the new assessment by Nerem and colleagues.' The paper by Nerem et al in 2018 is not hyperlinked there.

The News commentary by Weeman and Lynch says further:

' "The tide gauge measurements are essential for determining the uncertainty in the global mean sea level acceleration estimate,” said co-author Gary Mitchum, University of South Florida College of Marine Science. “They provide the only assessments of the satellite instruments from the ground.” Others have used tide gauge data to measure sea level acceleration, but scientists have struggled to pull out other important details from tide-gauge data, such as changes in the last couple of decades due to more active ice sheet melt. ' (emphasis mine).

It's no doubt open for discussion if in turn they reliably extracted such information out of the satellite data. Especially as their suggestion of an [alarming] accelerating trend since the last decade of the 20th century seems hard to reconcile with the expressed opinion in an article by Holgate in 2007:

' Although the mean rate of change of global mean sea level is found to be greater in the first half of the twentieth century, the two rates are consistent with being the same at the 95% confidence level, given their individual standard errors. However, a greater rate of rise in the early part of the record is consistent with previous analyses of tide gauge records which suggested a general deceleration in sea level rise during the 20th century. ' (again emphasis mine)

The Holgate article which also shows the cyclical nature of sea level rise - periods of acceleration followed by periods of deceleration - is not referenced in the Nerem paper. And strikingly, according to Nerem and colleagues 'The rate of sea level rise in the satellite era has risen from about 0.1 inch (2.5 millimeters) per year in the 1990s to about 0.13 inches (3.4 millimeters) per year today' - which is about double from what appears from the tide gauge data combined with GPS!

I should perhaps make clear what my first take is on this matter. In my humble non-expert opinion it's very tricky to establish a clear trend change from the data, be it noisy gauge data or imprecise satellite data. And while Nerem may well be "right" simply because the faster melting land ice should have gone somewhere, it's probably at least in part due to natural causes. I don't doubt that such an acceleration is consistent with the start of catastrophic climate change but I'm pretty sure that it's also consistent with natural, cyclical variation.

The NASA webpage doesn't permit discussion but the corresponding Facebook page does; and it should not surprise that it led to serious scientific discussion, as we can ... not see! For, regretfully, the most pertinent comments were the victim of stealthy censorship as shown here: http://sealevel.info/nasa_shadowbans/

Indeed, https://www.facebook.com/NASA/videos/10156020865631772/ now has more than 1000 comments, with "David Burton" at the top of the list. But when clicking on comments, I see only 436 comments displayed (after some work), and I can find none of David Burton. The visible remainder of comments is a mixture of opinions with little scientific content.

I find that really not OK. And it enhances the bad impression that I got earlier, as discussed in last month's blog. Should their Facebook post with suppressed pertinent comments be marked as "Fake News"? That would be a bit exaggerated I think. But it's certainly "Borderline" in view of their discussion manipulation as well as the overly sensational headline and video. The accompanying short video clip states as an unusual scientific fact:

' For the past 25 years, sea level is not only rising, but the rate of that rise is getting faster. '

and the headline states:

' This acceleration is driven mainly by increased melting in Greenland and Antarctica, having the potential to double the total sea level rise projected by 2100. '

I'm afraid that many young Facebook users will swallow those statements as established scientific facts that prove beyond doubt that nature is spinning out of control.

Loosely adopting the Washington Post's Pinocchio rating system, I herewith award the NASA department that is responsible for this communication 3 (three) Pinocchios for this news item of last year. The maximum number of 5 corresponds to outright lies, and "all judgments are subject to debate and criticism from our readers and interested parties, and can be revised if fresh evidence emerges." [- revised to only 2 Pinocchios for the overly sensational presentation and their unfair, misleading discussion thread; see Afterword hereunder.]

Comments (including corrections) are welcome here below. :-)

PS. Little bug: if commenting does not work, try refreshing the page - but copy your comment first!

Afterword February 2020. With InfoCheckers' own independent analysis here (and in consideration of the additional analysis here), it is found that the statement "For the past 25 years, sea level is not only rising, but the rate of that rise is getting faster" is maybe a bit incomplete, but essentially correct.


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Kev01

5 months ago
Score 1++

Nicely presented expose with no annoying histrionics. I feel less restrained. Systematic, intentional fraud best explains the persistent anomalies, that are broader than just sea level data & predictions. Here's a supplementary article that covers much the same ground: https://real...ate-science/

The biggest scare factor climate change alarmists have is arguably the prospect of runaway ice sheet melts in both arctic and antarctic regions. The basic idea being things are currently precariously balanced on a knife's edge. What actual global warming there is tends to be concentrated more in the polar regions. As high libido ice melts and exposes low libido underlying land (esp. Greenland), this will accelerate solar warming and so on in a vicious cycle. Certainly there seems little doubt Greenland has been experiencing increasing ice melting for several decades at least, as covered e.g.: https://en.w...nd_ice_sheet

And yet as your article notes, tidal gauges worldwide show no overall acceleration of sea level change. Are we nevertheless poised for a relatively sudden avalanche effect?

Whether Antarctica is a net accumulator or shedder of ice is afaik unsettled. If the former that may explain why there is no net acceleration of global average sea level rise. No doubt there are studies going into that. Which ones to believe will largely depend on what one trusts as objectively driven. NASA, CSIRO, IPCC and ilk's record haven't earned my trust re climate change in general.
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++

Thanks for that link Kev01 - I'm a bit shaken to see that they even mess with combined sea level gauge data!

In fact, I was at first puzzled by that graph of combined sea level gauge data - how could I have missed in the full overview of individual data the clear and neat trend acceleration that NASA shows there?

The bottom graph on https://clim...s/sea-level/ compared with the archived version is self explanatory and very telling.

But I don't think that the general problem is intentional fraud; it's more likely a problem of human psychology. If the data doesn't conform to your expectations, then what is the first thing you're going to do? Check the data of course. The temptation is to only look for errors until you find a possible cause for error in the "right" direction and then believe in that. The final outcome of such processes is "data" that is conflated with the theory that it was supposed to be testing.

By the way, that newspaper article of 1952 about 'polar icecaps melting at an astonishing and unexplained rate' is a gem!
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++

Addendum: as pointed out in the first link by Kev01, what Nerim and colleagues mean with changes in "global mean sea level" is quite different from what most people would think:

Nerim: " our sea level releases [..] global mean sea level [..] we are now adding a correction of 0.3 mm/year due to Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA), so you may notice that the rate of sea level rise is now 0.3 mm/year higher than earlier releases. This is a correction to account for the fact that the global ocean basins are getting slightly larger over time as mantle material moves from under the oceans into previously glaciated regions on land. Simply subtract 0.3 mm/year if you prefer to not include the GIA correction. - http://seale...evel-release

I would call that estimated sea height or depth!

Confusingly NASA's video clip uses the common definition of sea level by stating that "Understanding how fast sea level is increasing can help prepare for the effects on coastal areas around the world."

However, subtracting the 0.3mm/yr of estimated sea bed sinking from their so-called global mean sea level numbers does not make a huge difference.
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Anonymous user #1

4 months ago
Score 0++
I think we are wired in believing that the world is coming to its end. That's why hearing various types of news regarding man-driven catastrophic effects are normal and we would agree to it in a blink of an eye. However, if these are not scientific facts, then I wonder who would gain from these (fake) news?
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++

Yeah, and we tend to like sensational news! Not only negative news but also positive ones like the ultimate cure against cancer has (maybe) been found etc.

I do believe that the gauge data that we see and can inspect are reliable scientific facts. In contrast, unestablished models and speculations of the kind "if .... then ... " are definitely not scientific facts, and it's worrying when the distinction is blurred.

I can only speculate what may motivate people to present opinions as facts.
You may know how important it is to publish new findings and to get funding for scientific research; without new achievements some jobs are at risk. And the more sensational it can be made made to sound (without really making clearly wrong claims), the better it sells - even in science. Another drive for exaggeration or hasty, single minded conclusions is when people strongly believe in a hypothesis, and try to find positive evidence for their belief in order to convince others and reassure themselves. Just my 2 cts :-)

I like to stress something here. We saw that changes in sea level rise since 1850 have been generally very small and apparently multi directional. However, that also does not prove that we are not heading for a man-driven catastrophic event - this is just one piece of the puzzle which doesn't demonstrate that hypothesis. I will try to dig up more straightforward scientific facts in order to get a better picture.
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++

Some measurements go way back further than one century. I had another look at the gauge measurements and noticed San Francisco (more than halfway down on the overview), the measurements of which go back to 1854!

Accordingly, I made an edit to my original post.
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++

A small technical issue:
If you cannot post a comment, as nothing happens:

- copy your comment (make sure that you really copied it!)
- refresh the page
- paste your comment back and press "Post comment" button

That should work. If not, please contact me!
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++

There's a strange bug that suddenly interfered with an anonymous comment! So instead here's a Q&A.

Anonymous 2 asks: "The bottom graph on https://clim...s/sea-level/ compared with the archived version is self explanatory and very telling."

Both show the same graph - what's the comparison telling?


My answer:
It's a bit subtle, but the issue is that the bottom graphs (the ones with "ground data") of what should be the same data are not the same. That's nicely shown in a single picture on the webpage that Kev01 referred to.

I still prefer switching between the direct views. I'd say that the altering of data resulted in a less zigzag line. They literally bent the line in such a way that now it looks as if the sea level rise was smoothly increasing.
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++
PS. This altering of the past is disturbing as it resembles that of "Big Brother" (Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four). It may be useful to emphasize once more that such modifications of past measurement results are not evidence of fraud. There are many perfectly good reasons (or excuses) for adapting such aggregates of data. I already threw up one possible explanation that I could imagine, and here's another one: new people may have different opinions of what data to include in the aggregate, should it be all stations or a "better" selection. Because I was already aware that combining and continuously updating data from many independent sources into a single graph may be tricky and depend on choices with which we don't necessarily agree and that may be obscure to us, that in my blog I posted instead a link to the comprehensive overview.
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++

It appears that anonymous posting of Internet links is blocked by the software. I wondered why so far we didn't get any spam here!
And so, here's another comment from Anonymous 2, sent to me by email:

Here you go [in response to Kev01's link to a site owned by Tony Heller]: https://clim...rming-trend/


My comment in response:

That "fact checking" review by Scott Johnson is not directly about sea levels but about temperature. However it opposes the harsh accusations by Heller, so, at the risk of drifting a bit off-topic I will comment on it here. By the way I now deleted my comment citing climate change according to some Swiss scientists. Instead that is now included in the "News" on the start page of this site.

Johnson on Climatefeedback investigates Heller's claim that according to raw thermometer data, "the US has been cooling for 80 to 90 years".

Just a pick of a few statements:

1. "Factually Inaccurate: Necessary adjustments to temperature datasets have, in total, reduced the apparent global warming trend since the late 1800s."
??!! The US is not the world. 2019-80(or -90)=1939 (or 1929), and not 1880, as pictured there.

2. "As the use of thermometers in buckets of water hauled up on deck was replaced by thermometers in ship engine water intake pipes, the measured temperatures changed slightly, necessitating a correction to ensure an “apples-to-apples” comparison. [..] they carefully correct the data for a fair comparison. In the U.S., thermometers used to be read largely in the afternoon but now tend to be read in the morning".

Very interesting and useful! But again, the principal claim that Johnson pretends to verify concerns the US, which consists of land data. And he posts that "the adjustments climatologists make for land station data do make the warming greater", consistent with Heller's claim. However such adjustments seem to be well motivated; the remaining question is if the amount of correction is right and not overdone.

  • On a side note, "comparing apples with apples"? That reminds me, it would be great if NASA would ensure that kind of necessary “apples-to-apples” comparison also when it is less convenient.

3. "Raw data show more global warming since 1880 than is reported by NOAA".
Again, that's not the point and demonstrates a lack of understanding, or worse. The result of NOAA's "fair adjustments" of global temperature is a curve that better fits with the anthropogenic warming hypothesis which suggests that we should see a stronger warming over the last 50 years than over the preceding 50 years.
Surprising coincidence: this resembles the modification of NASA's global sea level gauge graph that we saw. And we remain in the dark about the motivation/excuse for doing so (except for my wild guesses).

4. Johnson even uses the pejorative label "conspiracy theorists" (see my earlier blog here) for some people (does he mean Heller?) who use "a fraction of the data to prop up claims that are false globally". It's a misleading suggestion that that doesn't happen on both sides of the argument.

In summary, Johnson's "fact checking" is overly sloppy and evidently one-sided. Despite that, in my humble opinion, his verdict "inaccurate" is likely correct. And as an information site it fairs much better, I found some of the references very useful for the seemingly impossible task ahead to try to come to an informed opinion about historical global temperatures.

In contrast, the individual sea level gauge data that we had a look at seem to be quite robust, much more so than surface temperature measurements. It would be interesting to update the graph of Holgate 2007 by means of (hopefully) the same, updated gauge station data, serving as independent alternative to NASA's obscure data processing. I have in mind to do that soon.
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Anonymous user #2

4 months ago
Score 0++

A comment on the very first sentence: "I now started to look into the Global Warming controversy" - This gives a false and destructive impression of a controversy. Amongst scientists, the controversy is long over. Wikipedia: "No scientific body of national or international standing disagrees with this view" - go ahead, find one that does. Now there's only industry and some politicians who are trying to keep a controversy going in order to justify their prevention of meaningful change.

Just to put the discussion of the quality of certain graphs displayed here in perspective. There's so much research and presentation of results, if you look for it, you will always find at least a few examples of errors. Before diving deep into those, please first check, how meaningful they might actually be. Otherwise it's a lot of effort for nothing. Unless you do it just for fun, or intellectual practise. Or, which I do not assume here, support of climate change deniers.
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++

Maybe I chose "controversy" because of the huge amount of mud slinging and dog fights between climate scientists that I was discovering during my Internet search. Based on my findings it looks appropriate, and increasingly so (see further). But for an eventual Wiki article I chose simply Global_warming just like Wikipedia and that avoids the phrasing problem. :)

Regretfully by far not all scientists who publish on climate agree. I now stumbled on an opinion poll of 2014, which was held because of tensions due to different views on the topic. From the presented numbers, I reckon that of their sample 73% of those scientists agreed with a mostly human cause while 23% disagreed (Wikipedia reckons differently and pretends 93% agreement!). Regretfully the researchers found that even climate experts are influenced in their expressed opinion by their political views and their perception of existing consensus. Consequently, it may be necessary to ignore what they say or how many of them align themselves with what they think is the party line and instead look at their presentations of facts.

Yesterday I went to the library of the technical university here and checked out the university's collection of books on climate change. Of a total of about a dozen books of around ten years old, there were to my surprise not less than three books that clearly disagree with the "consensus" opinion. One of the authors is an active publishing climate scientist who found it necessary to write his book because of what he called the "bad science" done for governments and NGO's who give huge sums of money in return for results that hopefully match their political agenda's. Another of those books for students starts with the chapter "The global warming debate", and the third one explains as a fact why "the effect of anthropogenic influence on global climate is negligible".

I agree that delving deep in debates about numerous published graphs will not be meaningful. Moreover, I think that it would be a total waste of time to join or support dog fights or mud throwing in one way or another. Thus, please abstain from utilizing denigrating labels in discussions on this website. It's OK if you put weaponized terms between quotation marks, as that effectively disarms them. :)
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Kev01

4 months ago
Score 0++

Current and recent events make it very difficult to get the climate change fraud message through to others. Notionally off topic, but things like destructive California wildfires, extraordinary cold snap in US East coast, evidently record breaking prolonged and very widespread drought conditions followed up by record breaking very widespread wildfires in Eastern Australian states of NSW and Queensland - well before summer season even starts there.

All perfectly timed to reinforce the global warming mantra, with lots of fiery angst directed against any politicians not 110% for urgent action to reduce carbon footprint. Seems like the gods are agin us! Of course the largest emitter of all has a very passive and compliant populace who know their place. Not so in our 'freedom loving West'.
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++

[this comment of 13 Nov.2019 re-posted with better clarification as indicated] partly in reply to Kev01:
It may be difficult to get through because it's really hard to believe, people are inclined to think that this is surely all very well screened and audited. Most people won't have paid much attention to the "climate gate" scandal - I for sure shrugged it off! But the website you found presents evidence that climate scientists sought to "correct" data that they disliked. In other words, it appears that they were looking for reasons to adapt inconvenient data (which they assumed to be wrong) to their theory. It's of course totally fine to transparently present an argument for doing so as part of data analysis in a publication, the problem is that public data records were altered. I assumed -even trusted- those records to be free of that kind of tampering, and no doubt I'm not the only one.

Instead of shouting "fraud" it's probably better to show the evidence to friends (e.g. 'It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip' and <let them judge for themselves>[edit:] let them reflect on the clarification given in chapter 3.3 here.

Coincidentally a few months ago "hockey stick" Mann's defamation lawsuit against a skeptic was dismissed by the court. See also here. Striking detail in the judgement: “the defendant intended to call three witnesses at trial who would have provided evidence going to fair comment and malice. Those witnesses have now died.”

This morning I heard on the radio that the mayor of sinking Venice blames "climate change" for current flooding.
Reality check:
https://www....tions/87.php

http://seale...p?id=270-061
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Kev01

4 months ago
Score 0++

That first link is to quite old data, but the last one is revealing for sure. I recall TV news commentary claiming there have been only six recorded floodings of Venice, with the last four all within the last twenty or so years. Something obviously not adding up.

An addendum to my last post where I wrote "...followed up by record breaking very widespread wildfires in Eastern Australian states of NSW and Queensland - well before summer season even starts there."

According to JoNova site, contrary to constant media hype in Australia about the 'unseasonal' bush fires expecially in NSW, turns out it's normal for them to peak in spring not summer: http://joann...res-for-nsw/

But try getting any MSM coverage of that! To repeat, deliberate and highly coordinated and worldwide distortions of actual climate data are imo just one part of an overall globalist agenda. With far more perverse intentions than ostensibly managing the planet for the overall good of a clueless herd humanity. But enough 'conspiracy theory' talk!
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Admin

2 months ago
Score 0++
I suddenly find that my link to a clarification - "[edit:] let them reflect on the clarification given in chapter 3.3 here" - does NOT work. This one should work: https://real...CNReview.pdf
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Admin

4 months ago
Score 0++

Kev01, oops I clicked around on the map and ended up with pasting a link to a less informative one. I meant https://www....ions/168.php.

And thanks for the informative addition. :-)
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Admin

one month ago
Score 0++
In view of two recent analyses on this site, an Afterword has now been added with a significant correction!
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