The Irony, It Burns …

Anthony commented yesterday on the question of atolls and sea level rise here, and I had previously written on the subject in my post “Floating Islands“. However, Anthony referenced a paper which was incorrectly linked by New Scientist. So I thought I’d provide some more information on the actual study, entitled “The dynamic response of reef islands to sea level rise: evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the central pacific”, by Arthur Webb and Paul Kench.

One of the ironies of the new paper involves the atoll of Amatuku in the island nation of Tuvalu. Amatuku became the first poster child of “drowning atolls” due to an article in the July/August 2003 issue of Sierra Magazine, the magazine of the Sierra Club. The article was entitled “High Tide in Tuvalu”, with the sub-title “In the tropical Pacific, climate change threatens to create a real-life Atlantis.” Here’s a recent photo of “Atlantis”:

Figure 1. Photo taken in the South Pacific nation of Tuvalu (8°S, 179°E), showing Amatuku Atoll and the abandoned causeway. PHOTO SOURCE

In the Sierra Magazine article the author described the terrifying effects of “global warming” on Amatuku Atoll, site of the Tuvalu Maritime Training Institute:

To explain global warming in stark detail, all Tito Tapungao has to do is show a visitor around the grounds of his school. Dressed in his sailor’s pressed whites, the chief executive officer of the Tuvalu Maritime Training Institute points out a small brick cabin built by missionaries in 1903. Now, a century later, annual high tides rise halfway up the bedposts.

YIKES! Be very afraid. So what is the irony in the new study?

Well, I’ll get to that. But first, a bit of history. The Sierra Magazine article was what impelled me to write my 2004 paper (Word Doc) on Tuvalu. I read that article, and my urban legend detector started ringing like crazy. Consider: the missionaries’ cabin was likely built a metre or so above high tide. Add another half metre for the floor, and a half metre to get “halfway up the bedposts” … no way, I thought, that the sea level has risen two metres in Tuvalu.

Upon further investigation, I found out that the answer was already known, because geologists had studied (pdf) the area. They found the changes in the shape of Amatuku Atoll were a result of changing currents from major alterations made in the reef during World War Two. A channel was cut from the lagoon to Amatuku, and a causeway was constructed between Amatuku and nearby Malitefale Atoll. Fill to make the causeway came from “borrow pits”, holes dug in the reef flats to provide coral rubble for the construction. And some decades after the war, further borrow pits were dug to provide building materials for the Maritime Institute. The swimmers in the Fig. 1 are swimming in one of the old borrow pits. Here’s an aerial view of the changes:

Figure 2. Amatuku and Malitefale Atolls, Tuvalu, South Pacific. Amatuku is less than a kilometre long.

As you can see, the changes in the reef structure were quite extensive. All of these alterations in the reef changed the currents around the two atolls. And of course, as a result, the shape of the atolls changed. This change in shape is to be expected – after all, atolls are just piles of sand and rubble in the middle of a wild ocean. One of the results was the erosion (not from CO2, not from warming, not from sea level rise, but erosion from man-made changes in the reef) of the corner of the atoll where the missionaries’ cabin was located.

Over the years since I published my paper, I’ve taken a lot of heat for my claims. I’ve gotten plenty of irate emails from folks in Tuvalu and around the world, emails castigating me for suggesting that the rising sea levels won’t drown the atolls, emails impugning my ancestry, emails saying we’d soon see thousands of “climate refugees” from Tuvalu, emails proposing that I perform anatomically implausible acts of sexual auto-congress, and mostly emails saying that I was clearly wrong, that it was patently obvious that rising sea levels would inevitably drown the atolls, duh, so there.

OK, enough history. I got a pre-publication copy of the current paper under discussion from one of my secret underground (underwater?) sources, my thanks to WS. The abstract of the paper says (emphasis mine):

Abstract

Low-lying atoll islands are widely perceived to erode in response to measured and future sea level rise. Using historical aerial photography and satellite images this study presents the first quantitative analysis of physical changes in 27 atoll islands in the central Pacific over a 19 to 61 year period. This period of analysis corresponds with instrumental records that show a rate of sea level rise of 2.0 mm.y-1 in the Pacific.

Results show that 86% of islands remained stable (43%) or increased in area (43%) over the timeframe of analysis. Largest decadal rates of increase in island area range between 0.1 to 5.6 hectares. Only 14% of study islands exhibited a net reduction in island area. Despite small net changes in area, islands exhibited larger gross changes. This was expressed as changes in the planform configuration and position of islands on reef platforms. Modes of island change included: ocean shoreline displacement toward the lagoon; lagoon shoreline progradation; and, extension of the ends of elongate islands. Collectively these adjustments represent net lagoonward migration of islands in 65% of cases.

Results contradict existing paradigms of island response and have significant implications for the consideration of island stability under ongoing sea level rise in the central Pacific. First, islands are geomorphologically persistent features on atoll reef platforms and can increase in island area despite sea level change. Second; islands are dynamic landforms that undergo a range of physical adjustments in responses to changing boundary conditions, of which sea level is just one factor. Third, erosion of island shorelines must be reconsidered in the context of physical adjustments of the entire island shoreline as erosion may be balanced by progradation on other sectors of shorelines. Results indicate that the style and magnitude of geomorphic change will vary between islands. Therefore, Island nations must place a high priority on resolving the precise styles and rates of change that will occur over the next century and reconsider the implications for adaption.

Ahhh, vindication is sweet. The authors agreed totally with what I had written in 2004. Rising sea levels don’t destroy atolls, and their shape is always changing. Exactly what I had taken so much heat for saying.

In addition to the Abstract, the Conclusions of the paper are quite interesting. Here are some extracts (emphasis mine):

Conclusions

The future persistence of low-lying reef islands has been the subject of considerable international concern and scientific debate. Current rates of sea level rise are widely believed to have destabilised islands promoting widespread erosion and threatening the existence of atoll nations. This study presents analysis of the physical change in 27 atoll islands located in the central Pacific Ocean over the past 20 to 60 years, a period over which instrumental records indicate an increase in sea level of the order of 2.0 mm y-1.

The results show that island area has remained largely stable or increased over the timeframe of analysis. Forty-three percent of islands increased in area by more than 3% with the largest increases of 30% on Betio (Tarawa atoll) and 28.3% on Funamanu (Funafuti atoll [the main atoll in Tuvalu - w.]). There is no evidence of large scale reduction in island area despite the upward trend in sea level. Consequently, islands have predominantly been persistent or expanded in area on atoll rims for the past 20 to 60 years.

… Results of this study contradict widespread perceptions that all reef islands are eroding in response to recent sea level rise. Importantly, the results suggest that reef islands are geomorphically resilient landforms that thus far have predominantly remained static or grown in area over the last 20 – 60 years. Given this positive trend, reef islands may not disappear from atoll rims and other coral reefs in the near-future as speculated. However, islands will undergo continued geomorphic change. Based on the evidence presented in this study it can be expected that the pace of geomorphic change may increase with future accelerated sea level rise. Results do not suggest that erosion will not occur. Indeed, as found in 15% of the islands in this study, erosion may occur on some islands. Rather, island erosion should be considered as one of a spectrum of geomorphic changes that have been highlighted in this study and which also include: lagoon shoreline progradation; island migration on reef platforms; island expansion and island extension. The specific mode and magnitude of geomorphic change is likely to vary between islands. Therefore, island nations must better understand the pace and diversity of island morphological change and consider the implications of island persistence and morphodynamics for future adaptation.

Couldn’t say it better myself … and oh, yeah, what about the irony?

Well, Amatuku, the poster child of disappearing atolls, the threatened “real-life Atlantis”, home of the disappearing missionaries’ cabin, happened to be one of the atolls considered in the study. The authors found that despite the loss of the missionaries’ cabin, Amatuku increased in area by about 5% over the nineteen year period during which it was studied … ah, the irony, it burns.

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120 Responses to The Irony, It Burns …

  1. MarcH says:

    Nice post Willis. It seems that New scientist’s error in linking to the wrong paper is creating its own urban legend. …http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/03/pacific_islands_ok/

  2. Anthony Watts says:

    Yup, the NS linked to the wrong paper all right, that’s what I get for rushing. I was late for an appointment but wanted to get the post up. Thanks for showing the right paper.

    And I commend you for resisting baser urges in commentary. ;-)

  3. PaulH says:

    Getting attention from the press too. From Lawrence Solomon of the National Post:
    “Call off the evacuation: Pacific Islands are expanding”

    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/06/03/call-off-the-evacuation-pacific-islands-are-expanding/

  4. James Sexton says:

    Very nice! Enjoy your vindication, you deserve it! ……”anatomically implausible acts of sexual auto-congress,”…………that’s a hoot!! Can I use that?

  5. Fred says:

    And sometimes flogging the global warming story is a cover up to the fact that since WW2 Islanders have used western technologies, including dynamite and poisons to greatly over harvest their reef’s fish populations and when there are few fish, there is little coral turned into fish poop, or as it is otherwise referred to as island building sand.

    Better to blame Westerners than look in the mirror . . . just lay some guilt on them and they’ll ship you truckloads of money to assuage the social injustice they believe they inflict on humanity.

  6. el gordo says:

    In reality, most of the Pacific islands are growing.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/03/2916873.htm?section=justin

  7. Ian L. McQueen says:

    But, but, but…..what about that cabin? Had it sunk, or what?

    IanM

  8. Tenuc says:

    Thanks Willis for a great post!

    This is another good example of the rubbish science being pushed by the IPCC cabal.

    Sea-watergate anyone?

  9. DirkH says:

    “el gordo says:
    June 3, 2010 at 2:15 pm
    In reality, most of the Pacific islands are growing.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/03/2916873.htm?section=justin

    ABC???? I thought they were the australian BBC! What happened?

  10. Steve Keohane says:

    This is too rich Willis, I think I hear the bursting of another cataclysmic bubble.

  11. D Caldwell says:

    It really bites when facts get in the way of a good story!
    Having to evacuate low-lying islands due to sea level rise is a great piece of propaganda.
    Don’t expect the alarmists to surrender this territory easily.

  12. Willis Eschenbach says:

    James Sexton says:
    June 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Very nice! Enjoy your vindication, you deserve it! ……”anatomically implausible acts of sexual auto-congress,”…………that’s a hoot!! Can I use that?

    Yeah, I was kinda proud of that one. As to its use, I toss my thoughts and words onto the electronic winds, in the hope that they will find fertile ground and flourish, so you are free to use any and all.

  13. Hu McCulloch says:

    So how did the cabin sink? Was it undermined by the erosion? Wouldn’t such erosion destroy the cabin? (Unless, as seems unlikely, it was built on a concrete slab)

  14. Kasmir says:

    I also enjoyed reading that “nobody knows” what sea level increase rate coral can keep up with. Actually, it’s well known that the reef building corals (genera Acropora, Montipora, etc) grow at 6″/year, i.e 150+mm/year vs recently measured seal level increase rates of 3mm/year. Even the slowest growing stony corals grow at 50mm/year. Reefs are in no danger of drowning; in fact they sort of “press up” against the sea surface as they grow.

  15. Steve from Rockwood says:

    “anatomically implausible acts of sexual auto-congress”
    Makes me wonder what is going on over at the Senate.

  16. david elder says:

    I knew it – global warming leads to anatomically implausible acts of sexual auto-congress … Rush this peer-reviewed verdict into the next IPCC report – even the denialists will fall silent … The tone of such scholars really carries the ring of truth doesn’t it. Willis, all you can do is get a certificate from your doctor verifying that you are not a hermaphrodite.

  17. John W. Garrett says:

    Willis,
    Congratulations ( but don’t let it go to your head! ) I am not alone in enjoying and relying on your work.

    “One horse laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms.”
    -H. L. Mencken
    ( who knew something about the ‘tyranny of the majority’ )

  18. FergalR says:

    ”anatomically implausible acts of sexual auto-congress,”

    Jeez stop giving Pachauri ideas for his next novel he’s been blowing his own horn long enough.

  19. Retired Engineer says:

    I thought coral reefs grew over time, as long as you don’t mess with the Parrot fish …

  20. Pytlozvejk says:

    OK, OK, we get the joke. You toss your thoughts in the hope that they will find fertile ground and flourish. Whereas Onan spilled his seed on the ground etc. If you keep working this theme, you’ll sound like a bit of a tosser …

  21. kwik says:

    Thank you, Dr. Nils Axel Mørner, for standing tall against the IPCC;

    http://www.climatechangefacts.info/ClimateChangeDocuments/NilsAxelMornerinterview.pdf

  22. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    I think you can count on one or more rushed-to-print studies that are poorly done and weakly reviewed, designed only to cast doubt on these results. I expect things like…. the results don’t apply to “most atolls”, poor study methodology, funding of the study by “vested interests”, the authors are “closet flat-earthers”,”have conflicts of interest”, or are “not respected in their field”, etc, etc….. any kind of drivel that could be used to cast even a tiny shred of doubt, so that Real Climate and their ilk can loudly dismiss the study as “discredited”. We’ve all seen this movie before.

  23. Richard G says:

    Way to go Willis! As Gordo says, the tropical islands are growing. Why? They are alive with reef building organisms. Darwin’s theory of atoll creation was that as sea level rises or land forms (volcanoes) subside, corals grow upwards to maintain their height relative to sea level, resulting in the formation of lagoons surrounded by barrier reefs. The biosphere rocks.

  24. Mr. Alex says:

    Forgive me, OT but the Hathaway Prediction graph has been updated for June 2010. Rmax prediction has dropped (once again) to around 65 in 2013.
    Judging by how these sunspot counts have been inflated, a Layman’s Rmax may be around 40! Exciting times!

  25. Gary Hladik says:

    More irony: So-called “environmentalists” have incorrectly blamed Easter Island’s inhabitants for self-inflicted “ecocide”; they were in fact victims of visitors more technologically advanced.

    Today, in our more “enlightened” age, certain islands are threatened by mostly home-grown problems such as overpopulation, overfishing, and development; “environmentalists”, however, blame outsiders more technologically advanced.

    I’d claim you can’t make this stuff up, but someone obviously has.

  26. Ray says:

    Living on a bed of calcium carbonate, they should worry more about the acidification of waste water by the pollutants that get washed up with the rain. Used motor oil is very acidic and will dissolve calcium carbonate. What a crazy idea to live on a bed of dead plants & animals!

  27. Smokey says:

    From the pdf link in the article:

    Forty-three percent of islands increased in area by more than 3% with the largest increases of 30% on Betio…

    Good thing, because the population density of Betio is over 8,300 per square kilometer. Think about that. World population density is under 46/sq km, and the U.S. is in the 70′s.

    So Betio has over eight thousand people per sq km; their fresh water lens is turning to salt from overuse, and their birth rate is among the highest in the world.

    A sea level rise of a millimeter or two is the least of their problems.

  28. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Pytlozvejk says:
    June 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    OK, OK, we get the joke. You toss your thoughts in the hope that they will find fertile ground and flourish. Whereas Onan spilled his seed on the ground etc. If you keep working this theme, you’ll sound like a bit of a tosser …

    Actually, I hadn’t thought of that interpretation at all. Instead, despite being a Shamanist and not a Christian of any type, I was riffing off of:

    3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

    4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

    5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

    6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

    7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

    8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

    9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

  29. Derek B says:

    I’d just be a bit careful about confusing the rash claims of some alarmists with the more sober positions of most scientists. 2mm/y might not sound much, but it’s pretty close to the steady 3mm/y general sea level rise observed http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_hist_last_15.html, and still spells trouble over 100 years. As it’s not clear what may have caused the areas of the islands to have increased, it is unsafe to assume that mechanism will continue to cope.

  30. Jim Macdonald says:

    Willis-
    I also enjoyed your talk at the climate change conference in Chicago. Thunderstorms and clouds cause cooling, especially in the ITCZ.

  31. Baa Humbug says:

    “Like sands of the drowning atolls, so are the days of our lives.”

  32. geo says:

    I hope you saved all those emails, Willis, and are forwarding a link to this page to all of them with a sweet note. Really sweet. Sickly sweet. Cheshire Cat kinda grinning. There is no greater revenge on people who are nearly blind mad at you for something they shouldn’t be than to let them see you are utterly unaffected by their scorn.

  33. Willis,

    Your “urban legend detector” is indeed finely tuned!

    In fact, back in early 2002, we explicitly delineated how the plight of Tuvalu fell into the category of “urban legend.”

    Unfortunately, much of the work we did for http://www.co2andclimate.org is no longer readily available on the web, but thanks to the magic of the wayback machine, it is still possible to get to some of it, like the aforementioned Tuvalu article .

    Keep that detector in fine order!

    -Chip

  34. Jim Macdonald says:

    Derek B.
    Sea level expert Nils-Axel-Morner says that there has been almost no rise in 30 years. He claims that after 2003 the IPCC’s graph of sea level which had been a straight line, suddenly tilted upward. He thinks that they adjusted the readings by adding a factor gotten from a tide gage in Hong Kong. Hong Kong, by the way is subsiding! So, it’s a falsificationof the data set. Imagine that! What else is new?
    Many other studies peg the global sea level rise at 0.7 mm/yr, not 2 or 3.

  35. wayne says:

    It’s so nice to get some truth about reality every now and then!

  36. latitude says:

    “Derek B says:
    2mm/y might not sound much, but it’s pretty close to the steady 3mm/y general sea level rise observed http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_hist_last_15.html, and still spells trouble over 100 years.”

    Derek, convert that to inches, then think 100 years.

    Land masses go up and down faster than that, and there’s nothing we can do about that one.

    Nothing to worry about at all……

  37. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Derek B says:
    June 3, 2010 at 4:31 pm (Edit)

    I’d just be a bit careful about confusing the rash claims of some alarmists with the more sober positions of most scientists. 2mm/y might not sound much, but it’s pretty close to the steady 3mm/y general sea level rise observed http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_hist_last_15.html, and still spells trouble over 100 years.

    Sorry, Derek, but I can’t say that 3mm/yr “spells trouble” over 100 years. First, there is still the long term disagreement between the tide gauges (which say ~ 2mm/yr) and the satellite data you reference. At present, there is no explanation for that discrepancy.

    Second, it takes about 50 years to go through the major tidal cycle, and we have only about 18 years of satellite data.

    Most important, however, is that the sea level rose about 8″ (200 mm) over the last century. I don’t recall any headlines about any big “trouble” from that, and I lived through more than half of that century. As a result, an unverified prediction of a sea level rise of 12″ (300 mm) this century doesn’t make me breathe hard. This is particularly true since there is no sign of any acceleration in the sea level record.

    As it’s not clear what may have caused the areas of the islands to have increased, it is unsafe to assume that mechanism will continue to cope.

    Actually, it is quite clear what caused the areas of the islands to increase. This is not a new discovery. Curiously, the mechanism was discovered by none other than Charles Darwin:

    “No other work of mine was begun in so deductive a spirit as this; for the whole theory was thought out on the west coast of S. America before I had seen a true coral reef. I had therefore only to verify and extend my views by a careful examination of living reefs. But it should be observed that I had during the two previous years been incessantly attending to the effects on the shores of S. America of the intermittent elevation of the land, together with the denudation and deposition of sediment. This necessarily led me to reflect much on the effects of subsidence, and it was easy to replace in imagination the continued deposition of sediment by the upward growth of coral. To do this was to form my theory of the formation of barrier-reefs and atolls.” (Darwin, 1887, p. 98, 99)

    Since that same phenomenon has been operating for millions of years, it is safe to assume that it will continue to operate.

  38. ImranCan says:

    The real irony is around the fact that it was Darwin who did the seminal thinking on atoll growth and behaviour and the idea of atolls drowning due to sea level was in direct contradiction to his work. Isn’t it fascinating that in order to perpetuate the AGW scare, these alarmists have had to state (effectively) that Darwin was wrong.

    Darwin, C., The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882, 1887 p. 98,99

    Of all the people to ahve to contradict .. Darwin !! Now that’s irony.

  39. Robert of Ottawa says:

    It’s all for naught. Obama says CO2 is suffocating the planet. We are all DOOMED, I tell ya, DOOMED!

    Sorry, night off from deep thought; just silliness tonight :-)

  40. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Jim Macdonald says:
    June 3, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Willis-
    I also enjoyed your talk at the climate change conference in Chicago. Thunderstorms and clouds cause cooling, especially in the ITCZ.

    Thanks for the kind words, Jim. I’d like to take this chance to remind folks that videos of all of the presentations at the Chicago International Conference on Climate Change are available here. Lots of good stuff, including Anthony’s presentation on the results of the SurfaceStations project.

  41. el gordo says:

    DirkH said: ‘ABC???? I thought they were the australian BBC! What happened?’

    A gradual sea change to save face, in tandem with the British Brainwashing Corporation.

  42. J.Hansford says:

    Yeah…. But that’s only because you do science Willis……. It’s not fair on th’ others. ;-)

  43. Paul Jackson says:

    After all of the times I’ve been told that being skeptical was the same as being a “Flat Earther” or a “Creationist”, it turns out that it’s the AGW camp that’s anti-Darwinian!

  44. pat says:

    carbon cowboy:

    4 June: UK Financial Times: Probe as carbon deal hit by bribe accusations
    By Michael Peel and Fiona Harvey
    Police are probing a planned deal for a British company to rent one-fifth of Liberia’s forests, in a striking example of possible criminal activity around the expanding business of carbon emission trading.
    The City of London police yesterday arrested the director of a Merseyside-based business in connection with an alleged plan to pay Liberian officials $2.5m (£1.7m) in connection with land concessions the company hoped would earn it more than $2bn, people familiar with the matter said….
    People familiar with the matter said the man arrested was Mike Foster, director of Carbon Harvesting Corporation, a one-time internet payment software business that is overdue on filing its accounts to Companies House. Mr Foster could not be contacted. He was later released without charge on police bail….
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/61b50aa4-6f71-11df-9f43-00144feabdc0.html

  45. hunter says:

    You could not have been correct, since your paper was not peer reviewed.
    Not.

  46. Anthony Scalzi says:

    Forty-three percent of islands increased in area by more than 3% with the largest increases of 30% on Betio (Tarawa atoll) and 28.3% on Funamanu (Funafuti atoll [the main atoll in Tuvalu - w.]).

    I have a bit bit to comment on for these two islands. The drastic increase in the area of Betio is clearly due to landfilling material dredged from within the atoll.

    Compare this WWII map with the current view of the island and note the landfilled area on the north side of the island, along with 2 dredging pits.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USMC-M-Tarawa-3.jpg

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Bititu,+Gilbert+Islands,+Kiribati&mrt=all&sll=1.131518,173.583984&sspn=6.871979,11.634521&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Betio+Island,+Kiribati&ll=1.355226,172.935619&spn=0.026857,0.045447&t=h&z=15

    On the other hand, the growth of Funamanu appears to have been entirely natural, with growth occurring on the ends of the island as described by the paper.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Funamanu,+Funafuti,+Tuvalu&sll=40.961234,-73.306274&sspn=1.298374,2.90863&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Funamanu,+Funafuti,+Tuvalu&ll=-8.565214,179.133571&spn=0.006641,0.011362&t=h&z=17

  47. pat says:

    The Islands of Kauai and Oahu have minutely risen out of the sea over the last few thousand years, Maui is stable and Hawaii is minutely but measurably sinking. Of course the latter because it is so heavy it is deforming the Pacific Plate.

  48. FatBigot says:

    A very interesting piece Mr E, thank you. Made all the more interesting by today’s new word – “progradation”, it’s a corker.

    I don’t pop in with comments very often these days because there tend to be hundreds by the time I read an article. Not only does this mean that any salient point I might have made has already been expressed more clearly than I could have managed, but I am also deprived of the ego-massage resulting from getting in early with a new observation. I still read the posts, though, and enjoy the sound of drip-drip-drip as the calming waters of common sense slowly erode the granite skulls of irrational doom-mongers.

    Keep up the good work chaps.

  49. john karajas says:

    Guess what! Research going back to the 19th century shows that corall atolls respond to sea level changes through the addition of more sedimentary material dreived from the coral itself. The sounds that you are hearing now are that of the wheel being reinvented. Dust off the old geological textbooks so that you can inticipate more breathtaking discoveries that are going to be announced.

  50. Dave Wendt says:

    The satellite data seems to have Tuvalu in higher trend area over the last couple of decades

    http://www.aviso.oceanobs.com/en/news/ocean-indicators/mean-sea-level/

    See the ’92-’09 trend map below the graph. Tuvalu seems to be in area of 8-10mm/yr, though my old eyes aren’t great at differentiating the subtle variations hooker lipstick red they always use on these presentations.
    Personally, I’ve never been overly confident in these satellites’ ability to do what they claim. Here’s a bit from a comment I posted to the previous Tuvalu thread.

    “For those still inclined to accept the plots of sea level rise that are bandied about I suggest spending some time reviewing this document

    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/ml/ocean/J2_handbook_v1-3_no_rev.pdf

    It’s the OSTM/Jason-2 Products Handbook and it contains the best info on how they measure and calculate SSH and MSL that I’ve come across. Actually they appear to be doing a lot better than I would have thought before I studied it, at least if you’re willing to accept all their claims. Even then, they’re talking about first cut accuracy of 11.2 cm with final product accuracy of 3.4 cm after long term averaging and numerous correction factors applied. These values of course exclude significant wave height, which is a chaotic factor they admit they don’t really have a good handle on and adds an uncertainty in the range of 0.9 to 0.5 meters, and these accuracies are specs which may or may not be met.

    The magnitude and multitude of the corrections and calculations necessary to produce the end product data makes what they are doing a most impressive technical and engineering achievement, but even if they can meet all their design goals, the end result will be a very good map which still may well be only a fair representation of the real territory.

    I would also note that these details are for the latest Jason-2 satellite, which is a step up from the Jason-1 unit, which was itself an even larger step up from the original Topex/Poseidon units.”

    Of course, if we do accept the satellite data, a question comes to mind. If sea level rise is supposed to be driven by melting sea ice, why is the long term trend map dominated by a high trend area where melting ice wouldn’t seem to a possible contributor?

  51. Ian H says:

    We need a similar study on flood plains such as the one Bangladesh is built on. This land is also in active and dynamic equilibrium with the ocean and will not simply sink as sea levels rise.

  52. Dave Wendt says:

    Another question I had when I first came across the long term sea level trend map I referenced above was, what phenomenon could possibly account for the patterns of globular high positive trend areas interspersed with or surrounded by areas highly negative trend? I’ve posted this a couple times, but no one has ever jumped in with a guess.

  53. Tom H says:

    Sinking?… just the AGW argument

  54. Halftiderock says:

    A good point has been made and made and made and made that should be expanded upon and additional factors reunderstood. Active coral growth exceeeds the rate of sea rise by a significant multiplier. In Maine we don’t have coral so I’ve decided it is possible to compensate for sea rise with my wheel barrow! 1 mm = 0.039370079. OR 5/127 3mm= 15/127 inch about 15 cubic yards per acre stays even to the highest estimate. A truck and a half. Everyone that has been on a Pacific atoll or even a Caribbean atoll, even a sand or rock beach is aware that the beach storm berm is higher than the mean sea level.

    Depending on the storm wave size, WAY higher. On Suvarov the storm berm on the windward side of the motu was at least twelve feet higher than mean sea level and there were chunks of coral reef the size of small cars. Bermuda what you walk on is all coral…sand dunes. It is a long way down below sea level to volcanic rock. This response to sea level change or sinking islands was taught in high school geology classes. reference Principles of Geology ,Third edition , Guilluly, Waters and Woodford W.H. Freeman & Company, SanFrancisco, 1968, PP 358,360 Reference to Darwin’s trheory of subsidence, drilling on Eniwetok demonstrated over 4,000 feet of reef “sunk”. Glacial control Hypothesis of Dailey 1942. COME on! Lets rediscover the golden age of independant thinking and honest investigation.

  55. netdr says:

    I visit Galveston island several times a summer and have observed that barrier islands move. That should be obvious to anyone that visits one frequently.

    Storms cut into the ocean side of the island and deposit the sand on the landward side. I have always said I would not invest in a beach house for that and other reasons. If you are close enough to the ocean to walk out your back door in a few years you will have to pick up your house and move it. No sea level change needed.

    After the last storm many beach houses which weren’t destroyed by the storm were within X feet of the ocean and had to be moved or destroyed. You can’t have a house within X feet of the high tide line by law.

    Where there are restaurants and commercial real estate they haul in huge boulders and lash them together with mesh to postpone the problem. Seawall boulevard has been there for a long time because the natives understand.

    The Tuvaluans could learn from them.

  56. RockyRoad says:

    My nomination for blogger’s quote of the week goes to Tom H.

  57. Pressed Rat says:

    Where the hell is Seth Borenstein??

  58. Brian D says:

    Who’d of thunk, God is an engineer. Humble pie anyone!

  59. JER0ME says:

    Dave Wendt says:
    June 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Another question I had when I first came across the long term sea level trend map I referenced above was, what phenomenon could possibly account for the patterns of globular high positive trend areas interspersed with or surrounded by areas highly negative trend? I’ve posted this a couple times, but no one has ever jumped in with a guess.

    I cannot answer that, but I first got confused when I discovered that there are different mean sea levels all over. The reason is twofold I found out.

    Most variable is the air pressure – it pushes down in the sea and moves water away to lower pressure areas.

    The second is currents where tides are constrained. For example the high tide NW of Australia is particularly high I understand because there are a great many reefs blocking the water. That causes it to ‘back up’ behind the reefs.\

    If and how those two, and presumably other, phenomena actually change trends I have no idea however, but it does tell me it is not immediately obvious.

  60. sHx says:

    Willis, just a question. Now that the mechanism for the island growth has been proven with observation, is it possible to re-shape atolls in such a way that facilitates maximum growth?

  61. Richard G says:

    While most of us think of coral reefs with visual imagery one of my most striking and persistent memories of my first dive on a coral reef is auditory: the curious and pervasive crunch crunch crunch of parrot fish standing on their heads bobbing up and down munching on the coral with their buck teeth, an occasional plume of sand erupting from their digestive tracts. A marvel to behold. In those days (1973) the doom du jour for the great barrier reef was the Crown of Thorns Starfish which was undergoing a population boom. The climate meme of the day was the coming ice age.
    To paraphrase from Blazing Saddles “The end is n*Bong, Bong*r. No dag blast it I said the end is n*Bong, Bong*r.”

  62. Al Gored says:

    Excellent detective work again Willis! I just keep being more impressed with your work every time I read your posts.

    And it just keeps getting worse for all the AGW scary stories.

    Maybe I missed it… but how exactly could anyone even measure sea level rise against these dynamic islands?

  63. James Sexton says:

    “And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

    Willis, it is screaming at you.

    This also is a grievous evil– exactly as a man is born, so will he die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind?

    Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is evil.

  64. Richard G says:

    Willis I have a task for you or some other number cruncher (probably done before). Has any one calculated the displacement volume of sedimentation carried to the sea by the world’s great rivers? If we can get them to quit worrying about melting ice causing the seas to rise and worry about soil erosion instead maybe we can put the energy toward something beneficial. This of course overlooks wind borne sedimentation.

  65. Jim Clarke says:

    The myth presented by the AGW crowd is that coastlines should be in stasis. In fact, one of the basic tenants of modern environmentalism is that the world would be in stasis, a perfect balance between all systems, if it was not for humanity screwing up the natural order of things.

    The reality is that, in the real world, stasis equals death! We can not have life without change! It is a prerequisite. Even non living systems like coastlines, continents, rivers and mountains are dynamic. The world is always changing and will continue to do so until it is cold and dead. Modern environmentalism, and all of its evil offspring (like AGW), is the antithesis of life. At its very core, the philosophy of modern environmentalism is fatally flawed and should be scrapped! It is the only rational thing to do.

    I am not “…for change”. like Bill Clinton. It is just the way things are. Environmentalists have to stop trying to prevent it.

  66. kuhnkat says:

    I guesss Nils Axel Morner really is the best scientist around for this type of information. He has been telling everyone the same thing for years!!

  67. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Dave Wendt says:
    June 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm (Edit)

    Another question I had when I first came across the long term sea level trend map I referenced above was, what phenomenon could possibly account for the patterns of globular high positive trend areas interspersed with or surrounded by areas highly negative trend? I’ve posted this a couple times, but no one has ever jumped in with a guess.

    Just like water in a bucket if you shake it a bit, the water in any tidal basin “sloshes” around in the basin. In some basins at some time, this can lead to unusually high or low tides. This affects places like Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu. The water inside the Tuvalu lagoon sloshes back and forth, and if it coincides with a high tide, the screams of “global warming” can be heard on the next atoll.

    The same thing happens in the Pacific Ocean itself, where at any time some areas will be higher and some will be lower. The study of this variation across the surface of the oceans is fairly new, since we don’t have even one small tidal cycle (18.6 years) of satellite data. There is also a longer tidal cycle, which is fifty some years, can’t remember exactly. So while at present Tuvalu’s tidal level is higher than average, over time it will even out.

  68. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Ian H says:
    June 3, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    We need a similar study on flood plains such as the one Bangladesh is built on. This land is also in active and dynamic equilibrium with the ocean and will not simply sink as sea levels rise.

    This has also been studied by several groups, who found that the area of Bangladesh is also increasing. Here’s the report of one study.

  69. dr.bill says:

    Dave Wendt: June 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm
    Another question I had when I first came across the long term sea level trend map I referenced above was, what phenomenon could possibly account for the patterns of globular high positive trend areas interspersed with or surrounded by areas highly negative trend? I’ve posted this a couple times, but no one has ever jumped in with a guess.

    What Willis has suggested (June 3, 2010 at 10:08 pm) are what I tend to think of as very low-frequency standing waves, or seiches. My feeling, however, is that these can’t be the cause, even with very long periods, because they aren’t static features. Here are a few other WAG’s that might apply:

    (1) underwater hot spots creating lower density water,
    (2) high gravity regions under the ocean floor,
    (3) vertical motion due to thermohaline circulation.

    Not sure if any of them apply, though.

    /dr.bill

  70. Dave Wendt says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 3, 2010 at 10:08 pm
    Dave Wendt says:
    June 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm (Edit)

    Another question I had when I first came across the long term sea level trend map I referenced above was, what phenomenon could possibly account for the patterns of globular high positive trend areas interspersed with or surrounded by areas highly negative trend? I’ve posted this a couple times, but no one has ever jumped in with a guess.

    Just like water in a bucket if you shake it a bit, the water in any tidal basin “sloshes” around in the basin. In some basins at some time, this can lead to unusually high or low tides. This affects places like Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu. The water inside the Tuvalu lagoon sloshes back and forth, and if it coincides with a high tide, the screams of “global warming” can be heard on the next atoll.

    The same thing happens in the Pacific Ocean itself, where at any time some areas will be higher and some will be lower. The study of this variation across the surface of the oceans is fairly new, since we don’t have even one small tidal cycle (18.6 years) of satellite data. There is also a longer tidal cycle, which is fifty some years, can’t remember exactly. So while at present Tuvalu’s tidal level is higher than average, over time it will even out.”

    Supposedly tidal variations and other systemic and random variations are corrected out in generating the sea surface anomaly and the map I referenced is of cumulative trends over nearly two decades. The globular patterns I asked about would seem to suggest that, even after removing natural variabilities, differences of SSH of about a foot and a half over relatively short distances have persisted for years. The only thing I can think of that could generate the pattern of variance shown on the map would be a similarly convoluted pattern of gravity anomalies, but that doesn’t seem even remotely reasonable to me. I have no real theory about this, only a question which has intrigued me for a while.

    As I indicated in my previous comment I am not at all convinced that these satellite projections are actually reflective of the reality of the ocean’s surfaces, but if they are, the fact that these atolls have still demonstrated the ability to expand in area in the face of an above average trend of increase would suggest to me that the coral’s capacity to generate new material may be even more robust than we suppose.

  71. Dave Wendt says:

    JER0ME says:
    June 3, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I cannot answer that, but I first got confused when I discovered that there are different mean sea levels all over. The reason is twofold I found out.

    Most variable is the air pressure – it pushes down in the sea and moves water away to lower pressure areas.

    The second is currents where tides are constrained. For example the high tide NW of Australia is particularly high I understand because there are a great many reefs blocking the water. That causes it to ‘back up’ behind the reefs.\

    If and how those two, and presumably other, phenomena actually change trends I have no idea however, but it does tell me it is not immediately obvious.

    Actually the absolute height of the ocean surface varies over 200 meters. The “geoid”, an idealized representation of the oceans varies +/- 120 meters based mostly on gravitational variability. Changes due to tides, winds, waves, storm surges,air pressure, etc. only amplify that range, meaning that at any given moment the absolute difference may approach 300 meters, maybe more.

  72. Athelstan says:

    Good post Willis, I am genuinely concerned about the abuse that you have suffered over the years, still you are not alone, many great men have suffered.
    If he were alive today Galileo would surely attest to that.
    I studied geology so I always thought the ‘sinking’ island scary tale was a bit (a lot) far fetched.
    This abuse though……….I thought the alarmists now claimed that it is the realists who are the nasty ones……..and all the time it was the alarmists lying about how ‘nice’ they are……deary, deary me.
    Keep on sticking it to ‘em Willis.

  73. Dave Wendt says:

    From some of the replies I’ve gotten, I’m not sure I’ve been entirely clear what I’m asking about. The map in question is on this page from AVISO below the graph of MSL

    http://www.aviso.oceanobs.com/en/news/ocean-indicators/mean-sea-level/

    The phenomenon I’m enquiring about occurs in bands at lat 30-50 in both northern and southern hemispheres, the largest running from the Horn of Africa to south of Australia. In the North it’s evident east of Japan and in the north Atlantic. It may be an artifact of some flaw in the satellite system, which would probably be my Occam’s razor choice if pushed.

  74. UK Sceptic says:

    The underwater government meeting stunt that proved to be so popular worldwide should be made into a regular tourist attraction. That’s the only honest use for it.

  75. DennisA says:

    Former BBC science editor Dr David Whitehouse comments on sea level rise from satellites:
    http://www.thegwpf.org/the-observatory/580-sea-level-shenanigans.html
    “Satellite data yields about 3.2 mm per year or about double that of the Tidal Gauges.
    There could be many reasons for this. Either the Tidal or the satellite data could be subject to a bias, or they could be measuring different things (the satellites sending back global data are restricted to latitudes no greater than 66 degrees for example). Given the complex steps required to calibrate satellite data and convert it into sea level readings there is much scope for unrecognised errors.

    It would be too much of a coincidence to postulate that the rate of increase in sea level had doubled at the same time that a new way was used to measure it! Whatever the situation, the two data sets show continuing sea level rise but the rate of that rise is incompatible between them and nobody has provided a convincing answer why this should be so.This means that the satellite data do not provide evidence that the rate of sea level rise has been accelerating. Additionally, there is no evidence of any change in the rate of sea level rise over the period of the 1992 – 2010 satellite data.”

    As usual, this is something that John Daly had addressed:
    http://www.john-daly.com/altimetry/topex.htm
    “The T/P satellite cannot measure sea level when there is any land within the footprint because T/P cannot tell the land echoes from the sea echoes and gives a false result. This means that all sea areas within 3 to 5 kilometres of continental coasts, islands, even atolls, are not covered. Also not covered is all oceanic area north of 66°N or south of 66°S, due to the angled track of the satellite. This results in the Arctic Ocean and the high-latitude part of the North Atlantic being excluded. Also excluded is much of the oceanic area surrounding Antarctica. In areas with a large density of islands such as the Indonesian archipelago or the West Indies, the `no-go’ area several kilometres around each island will result in a substantial area of ocean being excluded from sea level measurement altogether.”

    He is backed up by the The Australian Sea Frame project, http://www.bom.gov.au/ntc/IDO60033/IDO60033.2008.pdf, which comments:
    “Satellite altimeters have an accuracy of several centimetres in the deep ocean, but are known to be inaccurate in shallow coastal regions. As such they cannot replace in-situ tide gauges. Tide gauges are needed to calibrate the satellite altimeters and provide accurate and more frequent sea level measurements in specific locations where reliable tide predictions and real time monitoring of extreme sea levels is of prime importance.”

    The Sea Frame project shows there is no accelerating sea level rise although there is a short term trend of 5mm/year at Tuvalu. This is seized upon and extrapolated to claim there is a major problem when in fact most of this is a return to normality from the 97/98 El Nino.

    “Tuvaluans are accustomed to the annual peaks, which bring well-documented flooding throughout the low-lying atoll nation. In the past decade or so, as our understanding of El Niño has improved, they also have come to expect lower sea levels during such events.”

    “Although sea levels in the Tuvalu region normally fall in response to El Niño, the decrease that occurred during 1997/1998 El Niño can be considered extraordinary. Sea levels were lowered by 35 cm in March and April of 1998. By November 1998, sea level had completely recovered. Following the El Niño, the sea level resumed its normal seasonal cycle.”

    “Sea levels reached 3.33m in March 1997 as a result of Tropical Cyclone Gavin, but the maximum sea level recorded over the duration of the record is 3.44 m on 28th of February 2006. This was not caused by a tropical cyclone, but was due to the highest predicted astronomical tide for several decades (3.24m) combined with a sea level anomaly of 0.2m due to the regional climate activity.”

    This “King Tide” event brought journalists from all over the world to film Tuvaluans wading through waste deep water and recounting their tales of “highest in living memory”. No doubt the islanders did quite well out of these foolish doom seekers attending a natural event.

    However,
    “Sea level in the Pacific Forum region undergoes large inter-annual and decadal variations due to dynamic oceanographic and climatic effects such as El Niño. Such variability or ‘noise’ affects estimates of the underlying long-term trend. In general, more precise sea level trend estimates are obtained from longer sea level records as is shown in Figure 6. Sea level records of less than 25 years are thought to be too short for obtaining reliable sea level trend estimates. A confidence interval or precision of 1 mm/year should be obtainable at most stations with 50-60 years of data on average, providing there is no acceleration in sea level change, vertical motion of the tide gauge, or abrupt shifts in trend due to tectonic events.”

    The mean trend for datasets that span more than 25 years is 1.3 mm/yr.
    Data from JASL as at June 2009

  76. costs of adaptation says:

    It is interesting to go through the National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs), Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (MAMAs) and various other Strategies for Resilience produced by low-lying island states and Bangladesh because the governments involved are not signalling large scale population displacement or the need for relocation as a result of sea level rise or salinisation. And yet the Western donor governments, who are signing MoUs with these governments to fund adaptation and mitigation, continue to say that one of the most pressing threats is the inundation of islands making them uninhabitable and creating “climate refugees”. Who is right? And what time scale are we talking about? Willis tells us not to worry about a one-third metre rise in sea levels this century. Others say this will be catastrophic. Willis argues that a 30cm rise is unexceptional, but is he also saying that such a rise will make islands uninhabitable, that gradually populations will drift away (humans have always used migration to cope with a changing environment and governments mostly get in the way of this process) and we must simply live with this Pacific island depopulation? Or is he saying something different – that islands will adapt to rising seas, adding more coral sand, and human populations will aid this by using fresh water more sensibly, they will learn to better protect the corals, fish less, import food etc and populations will essentially remain as they are?

  77. molesunlimited says:

    I undertook geological research on Tuvalu in the eighties. At the time I was heavily into guano! I have published on some effects of WWII on Amatuku.
    There are a couple of other ironies that can be added to that of Willis. Arthur Webb and Paul Kench have to a great extent rediscovered the wheel. Back in 1973 a major hurricane, Bebe, swept Fongafale, the main islet of Funafuti, the principal atoll of Tuvalu. In one night the area of that islet increased by 15% as a vast hurricane bank of debris was piled up on the windward side by the storm. This is part of the normal aggradation process whereby atolls grow. It has been documented for many years. On the landward side of the new bank on Fongafale are fossil debris banks from previous savage storms. One cemented by natural means now protects the airstrip from modern storms. The 1973 bank and the growth process on Fongafale were studied in depth by Professor Roger McClean, at the time researcher at the University of Auckland – from whence comes the new study. Roger had extensive funding from, of all places, the UN.
    And, if any of researchers of the 21st century were to get from the shelves of their libraries a book published in the nineteenth century entitled “Coral Reefs” by one C. Darwin, they would find the processes of atoll origins and growth described therein. Oddly enough Darwin’s ideas precipitated as savage and as unpleasant a debate as the present AGW debacle.
    What goeth around cometh around.

  78. dave ward says:

    Daily Telegraph even! Mod: please edit!

    [I'm not a mod, but I fixed it - w]

  79. Ryan says:

    It is interesting to note that the BBC is claiming that although the islands are becoming bigger, climate change may make them uninhabitable. It is not clear where they sourced this statement or on what basis it was made.

    The issue that is raised here is the question of land area vs. sea level rise. Many of the studies make preposterous claims for the accuracy of sea level rise that are simply not valid in terms of the instruments being used to make the measurement and their original intended purpose. However, it seems to me that a far better approach would be to take the approach used here – i.e. measuring the extent of the land in coastal areas. Since beaches are gently shelving, any sea level rise is greatly amplfied by the slope of the beach.

    The measurement I would propose would simply require aerial photographs used for mapping purposes of all the worlds coastlines from today and from 50 years ago. We then simply compare the two to see if any changes are occurring which really matter. Of course this will, at any particular point, include techtonic movement and weather erosion products but so what? What is useful to us is to know the impact of all these factors taken together. We can also get an idea of net sea level rise by adding together the changes to coastal extent across the entire globe.

    Even if it were impossible to obtain original photographs then the maps prepared at the time of WWII would allow an analysis of coastal extent accurate to about 50metres. By focussing purely on coastal areas this would certainly permit the actual loss of land area to be calculated to small fractions of a percentage of the total land area.

  80. Paul Clark says:

    If the islands are growing with the rising sea levels then they are displacing more water and so contributing to the increase of sea level with respect to the continents. So, in fact, places like Kiribati and Tuvalu should be paying “sea level reparations” to countries like America and Australia. Now that would be irony.

  81. Dusty Rhodes says:

    The Daily Telegraph is also carrying the story today. However, despite the scientific results the two scientists are reported, in the last two paragraphs, to have said:

    ….. islanders still faced serious challenges from climate change, particularly if the pace of sea level rises were to overtake that of the sediment build-up. The fresh groundwater that sustained villagers and their crops could be destroyed.

    Prof Kench was also quoted as saying: “The land may be there but will they still be able to support human habitation?”

    So after a good piece of scientific research they revert to conjecture.

  82. Shevva says:

    The trouble with the warmists is while they’re pointing and screaming about the wolf over there, the wolf could already be in the hen house destroying everything.

    Imagine spending your career on something that will eventually be proven as a money spinner for rich people and that you’d been hood-winked into pushing their agenda. Should we start building log cabins out in the woods now so they have somewhere to go and hang their heads in shame?

    The only problem I have is when Mr Watts, Mr Eschenbach and Mr hill and all the other common sense people are proven right, will they be hoisted into the back of a car and driven down the main streets of New York to a ticker tape parade or simply be ignored and never given the recognition they deserve?

  83. PiperPaul says:

    It’s all about controlling the zeitgeist. Facts don’t matter, people can be manipulated, the world “how-it-is” is defined by those who “matter”.

    Reality be damned, they’ll re-create reality to further their goals.

  84. Pytlozvejk says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 3, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Actually, I hadn’t thought of that interpretation at all. Instead, despite being a Shamanist and not a Christian of any type, I was riffing off of:

    3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

    4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

    I thought you were riffing off the “implausible acts of sexual auto-congress”, hence I leapt straight back to Onan, without stopping to think about any of that new-fangled Jesus literature. Just goes to show, two-thirds of the world don’t know what the other half is thinking.

  85. Geoff Larsen says:

    In today’s Australian newspaper (4/6) by Rowan Callick, Asia Pacific Editor, p 9, Pacific Islands ‘growing not sinking’, with coloured photograhs (in the newspaper, not the link) from the Kench & Webb paper.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/pacific-islands-growing-not-sinking-say-researchers/story-e6frg6xf-1225875237545

    And on page 15 an editorial on the same subject.

    “Islands defy doomsday scenarios
    Coral-based islands have grown in response to rising seas
    CLIMATE change advocates anticipating that Pacific islands will be submerged by surging seas have reckoned without nature’s powerful resilience. Research by academics in New Zealand and Fiji published in New Scientist has found that over the past 60 years, all but four of 27 Pacific islands studied have retained their size or grown, some by 20 to 30 per cent.

    The researchers do not deny that climate change is having an impact. Sea levels vary, but have been rising by an average 2 millimetres per year in the area studied, far short of the doomsday predictions that islands will be swamped. The researchers detected that coral-based islands have responded by expanding. Climate change is an inexact science. But the findings could ease concerns of Sydney Morning Herald readers who were told last year by medico John Collee that today’s teenagers will see “living coral reefs become curiosities of history”. Nature might dictate otherwise”.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/islands-defy-doomsday-scenarios/story-e6frg71x-1225875239058

  86. Stephen Pruett says:

    Do coral islands/atolls grow by active coral growth? I thought the island and immediate surroundings were not living coral reefs so couldn’t grow?

  87. Flask says:

    costs of adaptation says:
    June 4, 2010 at 1:16 am
    “It is interesting to go through the National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs), Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (MAMAs) and various other Strategies for Resilience produced by low-lying island states and Bangladesh…”

    Why do you ask so many questions when the answer is in front of you?
    Don’t you think it should have been called Population Adaptation Plans of Action (PAPAs)…?

    Willis:
    Again, I have to congratulate you on another great post, anyone who ever took an introductory geology course should have known atolls were unlikely to be inundated any time soon. I don’t know why there ever was any fuss.

    I watched the video of your talk at the ICCC, and noticed the similarity of your observations to the cloud patterns you can see on the map linked below. The tropical band of cloud that floats above the ocean moves north and south with the seasons, we are just 3 weeks away from the northern extreme, which is my favorite time of year. I try to stay up until the dawn every midsummer eve.

    World Sunlight Map
    http://www.die.net/earth/

  88. Martin Brumby says:

    @Ryan says: June 4, 2010 at 2:45 am

    “It is interesting to note that the BBC is claiming that although the islands are becoming bigger, climate change may make them uninhabitable. It is not clear where they sourced this statement or on what basis it was made.”

    Obvious! They don’t NEED a source! When things get hotter they expand! That global warming is so bad in the Pacific that these islands will soon be ready to pop!

  89. Mike says:

    Vindicated at last – congratulations.

    Has anyone named this episode “island-gate” yet? If not, can I propose that as a moniker?

  90. Pascvaks says:

    People are a curious lot. They are really impressed when 1 of 500 monkies with typewriters eventually types anything intelligable. Sorry you had to wait so long Willis.

  91. dr.bill says:

    Dave Wendt: June 4, 2010 at 12:04 am

    From some of the replies I’ve gotten, I’m not sure I’ve been entirely clear what I’m asking about. The map in question is on this page from AVISO below the graph of MSL (link)

    The phenomenon I’m enquiring about occurs in bands at lat 30-50 in both northern and southern hemispheres, the largest running from the Horn of Africa to south of Australia. In the North it’s evident east of Japan and in the north Atlantic. It may be an artifact of some flaw in the satellite system, which would probably be my Occam’s razor choice if pushed.

    The map shows clearly what you were referring to, and to me it looks very much like a two-dimensional standing wave pattern in those bands, but I cannot think of any physical process that could cause such a pattern to be a static feature for 17 years. The Southern band, in particular, could easily be described as “up, down, up, down, up, down, …” by a centimeter or less, all the way around the planet, giving an overall average that would tend towards zero.

    I did note that all of the changes they are dealing with are very small (a few millimeters per year), but these are the outcome of a lot of averaging, detrending, and other numerical steps involving the differences between very large values that fluctuate enormously (by meters and 10′s of meters) from moment to moment and day to day, and are being measured by satellites that don’t have a resolution any better than several centimeters at best.

    If I had a gun to my head and had to make a good guess or die, I’d say that it all means nothing, and is simply a spurious artifact of too much data processing, and paying too much attention to tiny bits of residual noise, much like our ‘catastrophic’ temperature trend of 0.007°C per year.

    /dr.bill

  92. thethinkingman says:

    Regardless of what variations there are in sea levels around the world the fact is that if the seas were rising they would be rising by the same amount world wide. Yes as in the sloshing in a bucket there is sloshing of the sea by gravity, air pressure, currents and so on but there is more water in the bucket if it is being filled.

    Our bucket is not filling just because a tide gauge here or there says so, it would require every tide gauge everywhere to say so and I have not seen any paper, anywhere, that has said that.

    As an aside I note that all of these studies seem to come from far away exotic places that very few of us ever get to visit. What’s wrong with looking on the coast close to home, or are white sandy beaches, blue sea and sunshine a priori requisites for this kind of research?

  93. Bruce Cobb says:

    Climate bedwetters everywhere must be crying in their milk on this one. Because, while this certainly sounds like good news to any rational person, for them it means they have to move on to some other “proof” of CAGW/CC, like the “death spiral” in the arctic. Oops.

  94. Alexander says:

    As ever, Willis, excellent work.
    The pre-European history of Pacifc Island peoples is filled with sagas of growing island populations being forced to send off their excess people in tiny and primitive craft to become explorers and settlers around that great ocean. The New Zealand Maori regard themselves as tangata whenua, people of their current land, but treasure their oral histories of the various waka, canoes that made the voyage from the crowded islands of the Hawaiian Archipeligo generations ago carrying the founding members of the various tribes of modern Aotearoa-New Zealand.
    So why don’t the Tuvaluans follow the same proud tradition? Or is it easier for them to join the ridiculous culture of blame, in which someone else must pay for their overpopulation of tiny atols. I find it strange that Western ecologists are usually very ready to blame overpopulation for anything they stumble across, but when cases of very obvious overpopulation, which is the basis of Tuvalu’s problems, it’s much more fashionable to wheel out all the ridiculous AGW canards instead of stating the blatantly obvious.
    OT, I know, but while I’m on the subject of canards, I find it sickening that Obama is whipping up anti-British sentiment in the USA by his constant use of the title ‘British Petroleum’ for an oil company which is very largely an American conglomerate, in which BP is only a set of initials and has not stood for British Petroleum for a decade. Very nasty use of the xenophobia card. Still, for a man who is so poorly educated that he believes he exhales a dangerous and piosonous greenhouse gas, quite unsurprising.

  95. dr.bill says:

    Paul Clark: June 4, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Paul, I visited your website Planetary Vision and read your analysis of the Keeling Curve and the effects of the precise siting of the Mauna Loa station. I’ll read it all again in detail, but that’s quite a remarkable job you’ve done.

    /dr.bill

  96. k winterkorn says:

    I believe it was here at WUWT, in the last year, that I learned that some Pacific Islands are subsiding in relationship to sea level because of aquifer depletion. Add that to the expected response of living coral and continued sedimentation, and the study in this thread, and the Alarmists really do not have much left to whine about.

  97. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Pytlozvejk says:
    June 4, 2010 at 3:28 am

    … Just goes to show, two-thirds of the world don’t know what the other half is thinking.

    Oh, very good, sire, I confess myself bested.

    Puts me in mind of the sign I saw at the Snoopy Ice Arena in Santa Rosa, California:

    “For safety reasons, please do not skate faster than the average speed of the other skaters”.

  98. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Stephen Pruett says:
    June 4, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Do coral islands/atolls grow by active coral growth? I thought the island and immediate surroundings were not living coral reefs so couldn’t grow?

    The atoll itself is a pile of sand and coral rubble, surrounded on the outside by living coral. I drew a 3-D picture of this, you can see it at “Floating Islands“, it’s Figure 2. One of my better pictures, I thought.

  99. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Flask says:
    June 4, 2010 at 5:42 am

    … I watched the video of your talk at the ICCC, and noticed the similarity of your observations to the cloud patterns you can see on the map linked below. The tropical band of cloud that floats above the ocean moves north and south with the seasons, we are just 3 weeks away from the northern extreme, which is my favorite time of year. I try to stay up until the dawn every midsummer eve.

    World Sunlight Map

    Thanks, Flask, nice find.

  100. I think it likely we will see most of what the AGW crowd wants passed into law within a year; what they do with their new laws could prove disasterous or they could be too unpopular to be enforced, who knows.

  101. molesunlimited says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:

    “The atoll itself is a pile of sand and coral rubble, surrounded on the outside by living coral. ”

    Yes and no. The term “coral island” is something of a misonomer. There may be corals involved in the ecosystem of atolls but two major contributors to the reef’s mass and structure are coralline Algae and encrusting formaninifera. These are present in abundance at Funafuti as shown by a bore hole sunk in the 1890s by, of all people, The Royal Society. [They had put up the funds in an attempt to get evidence to resolve Darwin's ideas of the origins of the atoll reefs. This was in the day and age when the RS did not take sides.] The holes sunk at Bikini and Einewetak for Opertation Crossraods confirmed the Funafuti findings.
    The island mass is a substantial structure with a real strength that was built by the action of the living plants (Algae are plants) and animals (corals and forams). The upper reef is alive. The main mass is a well cemented substantial structure, albeit quite porous, created by the dead ancestors of the former plants and beasties. There is rubble on the outer slopes where dead bits have fallen off, just as there is sand in the lagoon from other the skeletons of other dead organisms.
    In some atolls, as in Kiribati to the north, corals can be quite a minor component of the reef mass. If I recall aright one of two of those atolls are dominated by coralline Algae.

  102. Tim Clark says:

    Great post.

    I perform anatomically implausible acts of sexual auto-congress

    TMI, I didn’t need to know WUWWillis.

  103. Paul Clark says:

    dr.bill: Thanks. I am also currently working on a post about what causes the seasonal squiggle in the CO2 curve. I’m hoping it might become a guest post on WUWT! Convention has it that deciduous forest causes the squiggle. I believe Roy Spencer thinks it’s ocean outgassing. But, I found evidence that it’s sea ice, especially the Arctic ice cap. Some Russian researchers thought of it before I did.

  104. Gail Combs says:

    Alexander says:
    June 4, 2010 at 7:57 am
    “… I find it sickening that Obama is whipping up anti-British sentiment in the USA by his constant use of the title ‘British Petroleum’ for an oil company which is very largely an American conglomerate, in which BP is only a set of initials and has not stood for British Petroleum for a decade. Very nasty use of the xenophobia card. Still, for a man who is so poorly educated that he believes he exhales a dangerous and piosonous greenhouse gas, quite unsurprising.”
    ___________________________________________________________________________

    The Obama is known for playing the “race card” at the drop of a hat. Now he is trying to stir up the “New Black Panther Party” against the “Tea Party”

    “With the rise of the Tea Party, the white-right and other racist forces. (note argument by package deal) With gun sales nationwide at an all time high amongst whites, with a mood that is more anti-Black than any time recent, it is imperative that we organize our forces, pool our resources and prepare for war!” Chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz, Esq. Convention Convener and Party Chairman.

    Just what we need, the economy in a depression, Congress trying to bankrupt us and an idiotic president whipping up racial hate. Unfortunately this is just what I would expect from a radical trying to ignite a revolution given his background with Ayer and “community organizing”

  105. LarryOldtimer says:

    The first problem (from a scientific standpoint) is to presume that relativily short term (years, decades) “trends” will continue far into the future.

    The second problem is fantasizing that humans can have any effect on longer term (centuries) “trends”.

    Too, humans can have large effects on local environments (local can be quite a large area), and cause many disruptions in local “natural” fauna and flora. We humans, by and large, have to do so to live in any way more than in a primitive fashion. A good many other life forms do so too, on a smaller scale. Just because we humans make these modifications does not mean that we are “destroying the planet”.

  106. Deuce says:

    As Anthony could probably tell you there is a train that runs through Fort Bragg, CA into the heart of the Trinity Redwoods. It used to be a logging train that dragged redwood lumber through a tunnel in the mountains to the coast for transit and processing. It is now a scenic tour you can take through lush redwoods as the area is no longer logged. The tour comes complete with narration by a local historian that is quite informative. However no single detail is more staggering to train passengers than the revelation that the forest surrounding the train route was clear cut TWICE IN THE LAST CENTURY. The reason this is so staggering is because the entire train route is densely populated with enormous redwoods, some with trunks over 10 feet in diameter.

    The idea of anthropogenic Global Warming is laughable. And it is laugable because it is based on the folly of our anthropoCENTRIC view of the world. Everyone in Northern California knows the “Skunk Train”. Yet many of these same folk will still crow about the horrors of clearcutting even in the plain face of the denser more robust forests that have grown in the wake. It is foolish to believe that we have the power to destroy the Earth. How does one suppose the Rocky Mountains were formed? How does one suppose the sea that used to occupy Death Valley was evacuated? And is anyone foolish enough to believe that any man would have survived such cataclysmic events? Evidence of the most aggregious and aggressive industrial revolution logging have been fully erased in a span of time that is negligible in the timeline of this planet. Clear cutting a Redwood forest is a significant and major undertaking to humans as is driving cross country in an SUV, or dredging an atoll. But extrapolating these things as significantly impactful to the overall health and survival of this planet is pure delusions of grandeur. So am I surprised to find that Tuvali is not being threatened by metershigh encroaching seas? No. In fact we instead find that not even a Tuvali heavily dredged, dug and lived in, is at much risk from man’s activities. Meanwhile one earthquake 5 minutes from now could send a tsunami that will make Tuvali a distant memory 6 minutes from now. And in all our grandeur we are powerless to do anything about it.

    Foolish is the man who thinks he is bigger and more permanent than this planet…

    REPLY: It’s called the “skunk train”, more here:

    http://www.skunktrain.com/

    - Anthony

  107. Kasmir says:

    molesunlimited says:

    “In some atolls, as in Kiribati to the north, corals can be quite a minor component of the reef mass. If I recall aright one of two of those atolls are dominated by coralline Algae.”

    Surprising, as coralline vertical growth rates are quite slow, as low as 2-3mm/year. Coralline lateral growth can reach 50mm/year, similar to the ancient stony coral genera. Again, the Acroporids and other modern genera grow at up to 150mm/year towards the sun, i.e. 50X times current sea level rise rates.

  108. Jack Simmons says:

    Smokey says:
    June 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Forty-three percent of islands increased in area by more than 3% with the largest increases of 30% on Betio…

    Good thing, because the population density of Betio is over 8,300 per square kilometer. Think about that. World population density is under 46/sq km, and the U.S. is in the 70′s.

    So Betio has over eight thousand people per sq km; their fresh water lens is turning to salt from overuse, and their birth rate is among the highest in the world.

    A sea level rise of a millimeter or two is the least of their problems.

    Instead of cap and trade to fix the problem of rising seas, why not just send them a box of condoms?

    OT-Smokey, were you the one asking for a fishing report?

  109. Jack Simmons says:

    Alexander says:
    June 4, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Still, for a man who is so poorly educated that he believes he exhales a dangerous and piosonous greenhouse gas, quite unsurprising.

    What the man exhales is dangerous and poisonous, but the danger and poison lies in the verbal, not chemical, content.

  110. Smokey says:

    “…were you the one asking for a fishing report?”

    Not that I recall.

  111. Jack Simmons says:

    Smokey says:
    June 5, 2010 at 4:29 am

    “…were you the one asking for a fishing report?”

    Not that I recall.

    I thought you did. And it was funny.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/25/the-western-snowpack-is-137-of-normal/#comment-398282

  112. Smokey says:

    Ah, now I remember.

    They say three thing start to go when you get old. First, your memory. Second…

    …I forget…

  113. Jack Simmons says:

    Bob Hope said,

    First you forget names.

    Then you forget faces.

    Then you forget to zip up.

    Then you forget to zip down.

    BTW, one brown. According to my fishing associate, who was providing peer review of my results, 13 inches.

    Asking a fisherman the size of his catch is like asking a climatologist what the temperature is.

  114. Hu Duck Xing says:

    Dave Wendt said;
    “The “geoid”, an idealized representation of the oceans varies +/- 120 meters based mostly on gravitational variability.”

    Could not this “gravitational variability” also cause eccentricities in a satellite’s orbit, that might contribute to incorrect data re sea level?

  115. DirkH says:

    “Paul Clark says:
    June 4, 2010 at 10:45 am
    dr.bill: Thanks. I am also currently working on a post about what causes the seasonal squiggle in the CO2 curve. I’m hoping it might become a guest post on WUWT!”

    I’m very eager to hear about your results, whatever they may be. I recently had a discussion with a colleague and we assumed it’s northern hemisphere growing season’s effect, but if there’s a better explanation that would be very interesting.

  116. DirkH says:

    “DirkH says:
    “Paul Clark says:[...]”
    I’m very eager to hear about your results, whatever they may be.”

    Oh, found your page (i’m reading this thread bottom to top and found it higher up) :
    http://planetaryvision.blogspot.com/
    Beautifully made, i’ve gotta read all of it. But go for the guest post anyway!

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