A Japanese Puzzle

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

A reader who posts under the name “tokyoboy” sent a link to a very interesting sea level record from the Japanese Meteorological Agency. It covers the period 1906–2010, and when I first saw it I thought they’d made some mistake.

So I got their data, and plotted it up. I also got the satellite records for the area. Finally, I got records of one of the sites that the Japanese used, but I obtained it from the PSMSL records. All of them agree very well, so I am forced to assume that there are no obvious errors in the Japanese records. Figure 1 shows the results:

Figure 1. Japanese sea level records. Two records marked “Japan” are from the citation above. They are averages of long-term records since 1906 (4 sites, blue line), and shorter-term records since 1960 (16 sites, red line). Satellite records (green, 1993-2010) are from the University of Colorado interactive wizard. Wajima records (purple, 1930-2010) are from the PSMSL

You can see why I thought there was a mistake. Sea level around Japan rose steadily from 1906 to 1950. Then it dropped for fifteen years and bounced around until 1980. Since then it has risen again, but it is about 20 mm lower than it was in 1950.

Now, I can’t find anything at all wrong with the data. The satellite record agrees with the Japanese averages, as does the PSMSL record. So we have to assume it is accurate.

But it is unlike any record I’ve seen of the global average change in sea level. That global record climbs steadily over the century.

Image added by Anthony via Wikipedia

So I fear I have no great insight into what is going on. Over the last 80 years, the sea level in Japan was level, went up, went down, went back up, and now is not far from where it started.

I’m happy for suggestions and comments, as I’m in mystery over this one. It’s one of the great things about the climate, always more puzzles to solve.

w.

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136 Responses to A Japanese Puzzle

  1. ddpalmer says:

    Is that data corrected for the land rising or subsiding? With the high level of earthquakes in Japan I would expect that earth movement has more effect on sea level than actual changes in sea level.

  2. The Japanese land moves a lot and obviously not only when quakes strike…how’s that for an answer?

  3. Willis

    Sea level varies with atmospheric pressure as well as the volume of water in the oceans. Japan is in a seismically active zone so the earth’s crust will be moving up and down by some amount. Determining an average sea level is not an easy task. Remember the arguments between John Daly and John Hunter over the mean sea level mark on Dead Man’s Isle made by Lemprier in the 19thC. The mark is still 300mm or so above current MSL.

  4. Gator says:

    Yes, my initial thought is tectonic activity.

  5. Anthony, as you are aware, Japan is plainly one of the most seismic regions on the planet…

    This has implications: correlating sea-level rise and fall with local large seismic events, most notably 1923 and 1995? Most certainly, the Sendai region subsided more than a meter after the March 2011 earthquake, but there are almost certainly other ‘aseismic’ swellings and subsidences in the Japanese archipelago which would have a direct influence on sea levels recorded there.

  6. And I should have addressed “Willis” above^^^

  7. Japan sits on the edge of tectonic plates – perhaps that makes the land rise and sink?

    Here in Scandinavia the sea level steadily sinks contrary to global trends, but that’s easily explained by the land rise still active since the last ice age.

  8. Ken says:

    Anthony, How do the lows & highs in the Japanese data compare to where GISS, etc. have “adjusted” the data over time–compare with your “blink charts” & maybe the source of disagreement will flash into view!

  9. Jaosn says:

    I would think earthquakes could be the cause. It is a very geologically active area.

  10. Myrrh says:

    Agree with above two posters, it will be the changes in coastal formations. Japan has constant tremors and quakes. Last time I was there a twenty second shake rocked the hotel in Tokyo I was staying in, various bits flew around the room, don’t recall off hand how many in that area but loads a year.

    Had a strange experience many years before that when living there for a while on the edge of Kyoto. Taking a break in the garden sitting on the ground watching the paddy fields a little below me I felt and heard a tremor coming from a distance away to the mountains around me, and it was coming in a straight thin line directly under where I was sitting, happened very quickly. Saw the line of it shaking the trees in the distance and watched as it came under me and carried on.

  11. Edim says:

    Well, it looks like global temperature (without UHI).

  12. JJ says:

    My initial thought was Godzilla.

  13. Aethelred says:

    Gojira!!

  14. Myrrh says:

    And they’re also deep, this the latest one:

    http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/275033/20120101/japan-earthquake-2012-strong-quake-shakes-new.htm

    January 1, 2012 10:14 AM EST

    Less than a year after Japan was devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the first strong earthquake of 2012 has struck Japan.

    The strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 shook Japan off the country’s coast on Sunday, the first day of the new year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

    The USGS said the earthquake struck 495 kilometers (307 miles) south-southwest of Tokyo at a depth of 348.5 kilometers (216.6 miles). Because the jolt was so deep, it was less likely to cause damage at the surface than quake last March 11, which caused a tsunami and, ultimately, a nuclear crisis in the country.

    However, there were no reports of damage this time around, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning.

  15. Ryan Simpson says:

    Average sea level is always a function of tectonic subsidence and rise. It is generally accepted that mean sea level has been rising at a constant rate of 2mm/yr over the last century. Local variation will be the result of tectonic activity which can have a rate as high as 9cm/yr. (Usually much lower.) Bangledesh and the Mississippi delta are excellent examples of a subsiding landmass. Conversely parts of Canada, Europe and the US are still isostatically rebounding from the last glaciation at a rate that exceeds sea level rise.

  16. WISE Math says:

    Simple. Overfishing and 10-year fallout from Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to a serious depletion of ocean fish stocks in the 1950s. Because of the lack of fish, the volume of the Ocean around Japan was reduced. As the fish stocks recovered, so did the ocean volume, affecting its level.

    /silliness

  17. Ian W says:

    I see that no-one has come up with the obvious answer.

    ‘Global Average Sea Level’ is a useless metric. Like an average telephone number it is meaningless.

  18. mkelly says:

    Sloshing.

  19. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Several people have proposed geophysical movements. However, the changes in the record seem too abrupt for such a cause. There’s a discussion of the issue at the PSMSL, but it doesn’t really resolve anything.

    w.

  20. SandyInDerby says:

    If tectonic in origin do all the 4/16 sites move up or down at the same time, or do some go up and some go down. I am doubtful if they (the sites) move in the same direction at the same time. How does the data compare with Iceland, New Zealand and the Bay of Naples three areas of volcanism I can think of, or the Eastern Mediterranean which I think is quite seismically active. I am sure that others can suggest better areas for comparison. If there is similar deviation from the norm then perhaps it is down to the earth moving.

  21. AlexS says:

    “Here in Scandinavia the sea level steadily sinks”

    Well.. another place where the sea level sinks…

    “That global record climbs steadily over the century.”

    No it doesn’t.

  22. An Inquirer says:

    Look at other specific localities. i suspect Japan is not the only locality whose trend differs from the Wikipedia graph.

  23. tommoriarty says:

    I have put together a video of the entire set of Permanent Service for Median Sea Level (PSMSL) data set to music. (I admit it – I’m a geek). The idea it to visually look for an acceleration of rise rate in the graphs. The first two minutes of text may be a little boring, but they explain the context.

    If interested, have a look here…
    http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/sea-level-data-set-to-music-yeah-thats-right/

    Tom

  24. Alexander K says:

    As so many others have said, sea level is usually measured relative to land and if the land frequently bounces up and down…

  25. matt says:

    I think Willis addresses landmass movement by pointing out that Japanese measurements match satellite measurements, even through the recent massive quake.

  26. Elftone says:

    mkelly says:
    January 31, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Sloshing.

    That has my vote :). May I propose an addition? Global Sloshing. I just need a grant now…

  27. Apropos my comment above regarding atmospheric pressure, Kolker & Hameed’s paper, Meteorologically driven trends in sea level rise makes for interesting reading.

    Determining the rate of global sea level rise (GSLR) during the past century is critical to understanding recent changes to the global climate system. However, this is
    complicated by non-tidal, short-term, local sea-level variability that is orders of magnitude greater than the trend. While the non-dimensional North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index can explain some of this variability in the Atlantic, significant results have been largely restricted to
    Europe.We show that dimensional indices of the position and intensity of the atmospheric centers of action (COAs) comprising the NAO are correlated with a major fraction of the variability and trend at 5 Atlantic Ocean tide gauges since 1900. COA fluctuations are shown to influence winds, pressure and sea-surface temperatures, thereby influencing sea level via a suite of coastal oceanographic processes. These findings reduce variability in regional sea level rise estimates and indicate a meteorological driver of sea-level trends.

  28. Russ in Houston says:

    Ian W nails it. Global sea level is almost as useless as an Average Global Temperature.

  29. Latitude says:

    Sea floor volcanoes hold water on top of them….higher water levels

    Every tsunami and eruptions shows on your plot……especially Wajima records

  30. FergalR says:

    Looks like El Niños piling up water in the western Pacific.

    PDO peaked briefly around 1940 was high from 1980 to 2000.

  31. IAmDigitap says:

    Wise math calls it, and isn’t it so obvious? Good call wise math – hey – would’ja like to apply with me for a grant to study it because I’m tellin ya now: the science is settled, buddy.

    The sintz is settlt. Thim’s sum POWWWWWW’eRFUL PROGNOSTIFUKASHUNS Wise Math, Powwwww’ERFUL!!!

    All up for a study on Wise Math (and now mine – we great minds you know – well maybe you guys DON’T know, caws YEW AIN’T CLIMATOLUJISTS!) and his FANTASTIC THEORY- it’s practically a LAW already – just sign some petition I’ll throw up when I sober up, and we’ll all be rich,

    AND
    we’ll be in W.I.K.I.P.E.D.I.A. as sum uv thuh smartist minn in thuh WERLD! *

    *that was a paraphrase from al (the goracle) gore

    Tony – P.E.A.C.E. on GOOD GUYS like you and Willis and everyone.

  32. Duncan says:

    Your 17-year Gaussian average occults the data in the late 1950′s, making it hard to judge how well the splices correlate. Is it possible that the big downswings are a product of the transition from the 4 old sites to the 16 new sites?

    The two big upswings together look like around 120mm, which isn’t too far off the 180mm in the chart of global sea rise Anthony added.

    I see you chose to truncate your 17-year average line by about 4 years from either end. I love that you didn’t try to run the line to the ends of the data, but would you have a few minutes to detail the thinking behind the 4-year cutoff you chose?

  33. M.A.Vukcevic says:

    Major oscillation appears to be due to the tectonic plate movements.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/JMF.htm

  34. Sean says:

    To mis-quote a Sarah Palin parody, “I can see the PDO from my house”.

  35. Ian W said @ January 31, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I see that no-one has come up with the obvious answer.

    ‘Global Average Sea Level’ is a useless metric. Like an average telephone number it is meaningless.

    OTOH local sea level, like local temperature is important.

  36. FergalR says:

    Ugh, it is of course La Niñas that pile up water in the western Pacific, not El Niños as I stated above. ;)

  37. Matthew W says:

    FergalR says:
    January 31, 2012 at 11:35 am
    Looks like El Niños piling up water in the western Pacific
    =========================================
    I was going to guess wind and barometric pressure.

  38. Hi willis
    I wrote about sea level changes from the Holocene to the Romans in part 1 of my article here;

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/07/12/historic-variations-in-sea-levels-part-1-from-the-holocene-to-romans/

    My own study-backed up by several graphs by current researchers cited in my study-demonstrate that sea levels continually rise and fall by around 30cm either side of a mean average. Great care must be exercised to take into account land rise and fall-there are several links in my study to some interesting papers demonstrating the impact. All in all, we are still currently around 20cm below the sea levels experienced at several points in our recent history.

    The chart you cite is one I wrote about also, it is based on a tiny numer of tide gauges mostly in the NH on to which is spliced the sarellite record a la the hockey stick. If you could zoom out to see it in historical context it reached its last peak around 1600 and has had a couple of oscillations since then, with a slow but very undramatic rise in recent decades. The current rate of sea level rise is virtually zero despite all the models and statistically the rise in the second half of the 20th Century was marginally less than in the first half according to Simon Holgate

    Tonyb

  39. Juraj V. says:

    It looks like AMO.

  40. Mike Pickett says:

    Regardless of various opinions of what the mechanisms are or aren’t, it would be very interesting to run a Fourier analysis of the curve, because I think I see at least one periodic function in it. Maybe the period could be matched to some other known period in our planet or planet-moon coupling.

  41. Larry says:

    “The Japanese land moves a lot and obviously not only when quakes strike…how’s that for an answer?”

    Does the satelite measure relative to the land? To itself?

  42. doug s says:

    If I were a cynical gambling man, I’d say the “global data” was cooked, and the Japanese data is as it was recorded.

  43. higley7 says:

    I believe studies of Tuvalu also showed that sea level had gone up and down over the years and was presently lower than in 1950. The islanders did not like the report and suppressed it from being made public. But, I think they forgot to ban writing a research paper about it.

    Perhaps the steady sea level rise graph has been a tad corrupted in the same way the temperature data has been.

    I tend to believe the real world data more than anything from the large organizations.

  44. Bob Tisdale says:

    Hi Willis: The SST anomalies around Japan show some interesting variability.
    http://i39.tinypic.com/23krf5g.jpg

    If I had the time, I’d look into the impacts of multidecadal variability of ENSO and North Pacific Sea Level Pressure (NPI) to see how closely they relate to your Sea Level curves. Unfortunately, I’m trying to finish up a long-term project, If you were to check, invert the NINO3.4 SST anomalies first.

  45. TimC says:

    Is the sea level record from JMA adjusted for thermal expansion consistently with the global record? The 1950s were of course warm; in the 1970s it was cold (hence all the concerns about end of the interglacial), then in the 1980s it got warm and Hansen started strutting his stuff.

    Or, referring back to your recent article on “Decimals of Precision” (URL as below) on standard error of the mean, the global plot is taken from only 23 tide gauge records worldwide – but the individual traces on the global chart appear to swing regularly at least +/- 5cms from the average. Might the Japan plot (4 sites from 1906, 16 from 1960 albeit for a much smaller area), showing the approximate 7 cm decline from 1950 to 1985, be a just statistical artefact?

    URL: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/26/decimals-of-precision-trenberths-missing-heat/

  46. tty says:

    An interesting way to study the rising or sinking of the land is to check the current level of the coastline from the previous interglacial ca 120 000 years ago. In Italy which is a seismically active area this varies from 185 meters above sea-level near Messina to 120 meters below sea level near Ravenna. So, on average, the Ravenna area has sunk about 1 mm/year during the last 100,000 years while Messina has risen about 1.5 mm/year during the same time
    If we instead study Australa, famously the most tectonically stable part of the world, the variation is indeed only from + 40 meters in Tasmania, to several meters below sea-level in northern Queensland, so there the movement has probably everywhere been well below 0.5 mm/yr.

    So are there any areas which haven’t moved during this time period? Perhaps. There are some largish tectonically stable blocks with an interglacial coastline about 2-3 meters above sea level, including the Gawler Block in Australia and the Tyrrhenian block in the western Mediterranean. Since such large areas never move “as a piece” as far as we know, it seems plausible that instead they haven’t moved at all.

  47. Tom Ragsdale says:

    I haven’t read all of the previous comments but the thing that comes to my mind that could be at least part of the cause is a variation in the paths or strengths of pacific ocean currents.

    Just a thought.

  48. Pete in Cumbria UK says:

    Howzabout something similar to what’s described here yesterday….
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/30/oh-noes-wind-driven-global-warming-hot-spots/#comment-879619
    was it a huge undersea heat-source/volcano/magma chamber expanding/lifting the water – were there there any geologic events in the 20s, 30s or 40s that correspond to the high point?

  49. Dave Wendt says:

    This merely illustrates a point I have tried to make quite a number of times in comments here. Most post and comment discussions on this topic are derailed from the start because they are based on the implicit fallacy that the seas are actually level i.e. that the massive waters of the world’s ocean’s will respond like a cake pan filled with water on your kitchen counter. The sea level anomalies in the satellite altimetry record bear almost no relationship to anything real on the planet and any changes in GMSL they suggest will never be mirrored by similar changes at any particular point on the planet, except as a matter of happy coincidence.
    Those satellite anomalies are calculated in reference to the relationship between the Geoid, a completely artificial and abstract approximation of what the equipotential surface of the world’s oceans would look like if every influence except changes in the gravitational strength of planet were removed and all land masses were made completely permeable to them, and the reference ellipsoid, a mathematically smoothed approximation of the squashed and lumpy spheroid that we inhabit. The baseline for the anomalies is the difference between the undulations of the Geoid, and the reference ellipsoid, which BTW range over about 200 METERS!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Geoid_height_red_blue_averagebw.png

    I have recommended that people interested in this topic invest the time necessary to study this document

    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/sog/Jason2/userhandbook_4.pdf
    OSTM/Jason-2 Products Handbook

    Even if you only do a superficial scan, try to keep a tally of the number of adjustments, correction factors, and various kludges involved in the process and, given that almost all of them are at least partially and often completely based on models themselves, the possibly hundreds of opportunities for human influence to intervene.along the way
    Pay particular attention to

    2.3.1. Accuracy of Sea-level Measurement
    Generally speaking OSTM/Jason-2 has been specified based on the Jason-1 state of the art,
    including improvements in payload technology, data processing and algorithms or ancillary data
    (e.g: precise orbit determination and meteorological model accuracy). The sea-surface height shall be provided with a globally averaged RMS accuracy of 3.4 cm (1 sigma), or better, assuming 1 second averages.

    And also the error budget table that follows, including the line for significant wave height error.

    And bear in mind that the JASON 2 is the latest and greatest of these wonderful devices and, given the significant upgrades to orbital precision and realtime atmospheric corrections, is probably 2-3 orders of magnitude better than the earlier TOPEX/ POSEIDON units from the beginning of the record.

  50. Manfred says:

    Sea levels are very difficult to measure, and satellite data is all about adjustments.

    The Japanese agrees better with Moerner’s view and his data:

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

  51. Dr Burns says:

    Plenty of non rising sea levels:
    http://www.john-daly.com/ges/msl-rept.htm

  52. Some features of the University of Colorado tool might shed some light on this.
    Choose the Variance option, and it looks just like an El Nino map in many ways – the equatorial variance primarily – and what I’m not used to seeing is the “extra angry” red that appears to be blowing into Japan. Perhaps someone with experience in seasonal wind patterns could provide input on that, or maybe this could: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQOJwDMZMXw

    It would be interesting to see a combined plot of different variables, PDO, temp anomaly, pressure, etc. I vote for Global Sloshing.

  53. Korwyn says:

    I’m sure that the explanation will be that this is more proof of AGCD, since the land is obviously rising due to the missing weight from the melted glacier and snowcaps. ;)

    More seriously though, is there any correlation obvious with earthquake activity? Also, we have to remember that the earth’s crust isn’t a uniform sphere, isn’t a static shape and subtly deforms due to gravitational influences as well as atmospheric and tectonic action. Correctly accounting for those factors when measuring sea level is (IMO) virtually impossible without having at least: 1) A dense global mesh network of sensors accurately calibrated to a common zero; 2) Consistent, accurate satellite measurements; 3) A much better understanding of the effect solar system gravitational interactions have on plate tectonics; 4) An accurate measure of the volume of Earth’s water broken down by phase state (ice/vapor/liquid).

  54. M.A.Vukcevic says:

    climatereason says:
    ……………..
    Hi Tony
    For your attention and mine amusements I have added (see the lower graph) what the Tokyo tectonic oscillations might have looked like in the past centuries.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/JMF.htm

  55. Septic Matthew says:

    Willis, I have seen other records showing declining seal levels in some places, inclining sea levels in other places, and little to no net change in other places. If you’d like I’ll start tracking them down and sending you links, though it may take me a while. It’s possible that my memory or my sources are mistaken, the usual caveats. If you have an interest, please email me. You have my email.

    As with the heat and other energy, the changes in the sea levels are known to be non-uniform over vast regions. You have one example here.

  56. Neo says:

    How do they calibrate the satellite data ? I know they don’t use a tape measure, but what is the sea level calibrated to ?

  57. Jeremy says:

    Willis,

    Try googling “plate tectonics”. There is a surprising amount of movement in most parts of the globe both laterally as well as vertically.

    For example, the Himalayas are the result of uplift due to plate tectonics, as any geologist can affirm. These effects can be of the order of a decimeter per year.

  58. Brian D says:

    As mentioned above, I think it shows a strong correlation to the PDO cycle with a 5-10 yr lag time.

  59. Garry Stotel says:

    One should be able to marry up the two graphs, i.e. the Global Sea Levels graph is implicitly superimposed on any local movement of the soil.
    As the Japanese sea levels went up or down 2 cm, and the global sea levels steadily increased by 20cm in the same timescale of 100 years, taking both graphs as true, one has to assume that Japan as a whole steadily rose by 20 cm, give or take 2 cm here and there.
    As Japan is a geologically unstable region, I suspect (and I am not a geologist – I am a chemical engineer, so could be wrong) that some parts of the country would sink, and some would go up, and some would go up and down, perhaps more than once. Just as their graph shows.
    I remember reading, Bob Carter, I think, saying that there is no such thing as Global Sea Level, only local ones.
    Therefore I think, on the balance of things, is that the Global Sea Level graph has been cooked, and the Japanese graph is true.

  60. Septic Matthew says:

    Mike Pickett: it would be very interesting to run a Fourier analysis of the curve, because I think I see at least one periodic function in it.

    Every short time series has at least one periodic component in it that can be seen. Unless there are multiple cycles with the same period, it is almost impossible to discern whether the periodic function relates to any sort of other periodic oscillation or is random.

  61. Luther Wu says:

    It’s a gravity thing.

  62. Kev-in-UK says:

    I think it’s pretty obviously due to ‘buoyancy’, Archimedes Principle and the chinese population explosion. More chinese equals more weight on china, equals more downforce on the molten mantle – equals uplift in Japan…./sarc off
    mind you, long term axial inclination and orbital/gravtitational variations could also contribute via global sloshing…………!!!

  63. Les Johnson says:

    Willis: At a guess, I would say the Japanese sea level is tracking global temperature. A rise from 1900-1940, then a fall to 1970-1980, then a rise, then it levels off the last decade or so.

  64. Anything is possible says:

    Sea level isn’t “level” at all, but is set by the height of the Geoid :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoid

    In a highly tectonically active region like Japan, it may be possible that the density of the underlying mantle can undergo rapid changes which alter the gravitational force acting on the sea surface, thus changing its’ height…….

    Gravity. Is there anything it can’t do? (:-

    Seriously Willis, have you checked other stations around the Pacific Rim (the Philippines, New Guinea or Indonesia may be a good place to look) to see if similar effects manifest themselves there.

  65. Jerker Andersson says:

    I get a feeling that it has somthing to do with ocean temperture or slight changes in currents pushing water a little less towards the coast just as when it windy but with a much smaller effect.
    Sine we are just talking about rather small changes there may not need to be any larger longterm changes in currents to change the level at thre coast 10-20 mm.

  66. Nick Stokes says:

    It tracks the Japanese economy. When Japan is depressed, the measured sea level rises.

  67. Jerker Andersson says:

    Missed one thing, the wind.
    Could there be a long term change in wind speed and does the data have a adjustments for longterm changes in wind speed? Considering the PDO etc and that Japan is in the Pacific, changing average wind speed piling up a little it more water on average along the coast could be a reason.

  68. Greg Cavanagh says:

    I’m betting any individual location will look similar, going up and down over time. It’s only when you add all of them together and divide the count, that you get an interesting but not useful value as a result.
    For the location of Japan, wind (and perhaps currents) seem the obvious answer.

  69. Neil says:

    This fifty year oscillation looks a lot like it is coupled to the recent PDO. Remember that a 1 mbar barometric pressure change will cause a 10 mm change in sea level, so about 6 mbar average barometric pressure swing between Japan and the Pacific over this period would do the job. I think that this is comparable to the pressure swings seen for the ENSO index, (derived from the average barometric pressure difference between Darwin and Tahiti).
    You would have to imagine that the absence of a significant long term trend would be due to local tectonic uplift.

  70. handjive says:

    This link from Wired Science, 2009 describes an event on east coast of USA:

    From Maine to Florida, the Atlantic seaboard has experienced higher tides than expected this summer.
    At their peak in mid-June, the tides at some locations outstripped predictions by two feet.

    The change has come too fast to be attributed to melting ice sheets or anything quite that dramatic, and it’s a puzzle for scientists who’ve never seen anything quite like it.

    June was — high tides aside — “nothing to write home about” in Trenberth’s estimation.

    “It’s a bit of a mystery,” he said.

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/07/hightides/

    Even though this is tsunami related, the stones positions might tell part of the story:

    The stone tablet has stood on the forested hillside since before they were born, but the villagers have faithfully obeyed the stark warning carved on its weathered face: ”Do not build your homes below this point!”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/tsunami-warnings-carved-in-ancient-stone-20110421-1dqmt.html#ixzz1l4cue6z7

  71. ntesdorf says:

    This comes as no surprise to me as both in Sydney (Australia) at Lady MacQuarie’s Chair and at Hobart the old Tide Level Markings made in the 1820′s are still in use and quite correct. These are both seismically stable areas of sedimentary rock in which the marks were carved.

  72. M.A.Vukcevic says:

    Someone asked for spectrum, I have added one:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/JMF.htm
    Stronigish ~60 (61.08) year component, I suspect some readers may be very happy about that.

  73. @ Tony Brown

    I really enjoyed reading Sea level changes from the Holocene to the Romans. Where do I find parts 2 & 3?

  74. Fred N. says:

    The Big Red Spot (http://sealevel.colorado.edu/content/map-sea-level-trends) dominates the GMSL change. Take that out of the equation and the trend is virtually nil.
    What’s the reason for the BRS? I suspect under sea volcano activity causing above normal OHC in the West Pacific (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/weeklyenso/wkteq_xz.gif) expanding the water.

  75. John F. Hultquist says:

    PANGA uses GPS, tilt and strain data to monitor a variety of natural hazards, processes, and structures throughout the Pacific Northwest. They know that the coast of Washington State is being warped or dragged down by the subsiding plate — somewhat like having a heavy person on the end of a diving board. How that changes sea level, I don’t know. When the release happens (think the diver leaving the board), all he.ll breaks loose at the surface.

    These folks know a lot about seismic activity
    http://www.panga.cwu.edu/
    The link (upper left) is interesting reading.

  76. Mark in Los Alamos says:

    The sea level at any given spot responds to primarily to changes in the prevailing wind. There is a very good paper by Boris Shirman and Yossi Melzer entitled “Mediterranean Sea Level Changes over the Period 1961 – 2000″ that discusses the most important factors/corrections.

    Interestingly enough, if you look at Fig. 8 in their paper (which covers 1958 – 2000) you will see a peak East Mediterranean Sea level around 1961 – 1965 followed by a steady decline to 1973 – 1976, and then a rise from 1976 to 2000.

  77. ntesdorf said @ January 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    This comes as no surprise to me as both in Sydney (Australia) at Lady MacQuarie’s Chair and at Hobart the old Tide Level Markings made in the 1820′s are still in use and quite correct. These are both seismically stable areas of sedimentary rock in which the marks were carved.

    Apropos the Hobart waterfont, the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies is about to develop Prince’s Wharf No 2. This is quite surprising considering John Hunter has been warning us about the danger of rapidly rising sea level for at least a decade. Perhaps he will refuse to move there when it’s completed so he doesn’t get his feet wet ;-)

    Given the projected sea level rise, it also seems bizarre that the government is renovating the Royal Hobart Hospital, rather than investing in a new building on higher ground. Perhaps they don’t believe their own rhetoric…

  78. Richard Briscoe says:

    Surely the obvious, if somewhat surprising, explanation is that between 1950 and1985 Japan was lifted at least 100mm. It is, after all, very active tectonically. Tsunami is a Japnese word.

  79. MarkW says:

    Related to seismic activity, ocean waters will bulge or trough depending on local gravity. I would love to see a graph of gravity changes and compare them to that chart.

  80. mfosdb says:

    Is this another trap for the unwary :o]
    Could it be something to do with the leaching of salt from sea ice causing the sea water beneath to become denser. Brine rejection and the resulting thermohaline circulation may have something to do with it. But this is an area I know little about.

  81. Baa Humbug says:

    The answer is in the following…

    ENSO
    North Pacific Warm Pool
    Bob Tisdale

  82. 1DandyTroll says:

    Wow, that’s pretty incredible, that you guys got a hold of all that data.

    Around the baltic sea Sweden supposedly has most data, what with it being the largest country with the lengthiest coast. Supposedly it’s the most “open” socialist country in EU. Although, in reality it’s a laugh and a half for it’s completely deranged delusional state:

    “Your complete identification form has been communicated by one BALTEX SSG member and has been registered at both the BALTEX Secretariat and at ODCB,
    Your data request has been sent to the ODCB,
    A BALTEX Data License Agreement has been signed by both you and the ODCB.”

    Don’t mind that the data has been paid for by both the Swedish and EU tax payers alike, you need a “legal” interest to get the data.

    What’s really odd as well is that for the Swedish Met office the official sea level stat for the baltic sea is only for 14 stations since 1886, which are the only 14 stations which agree with a constant (global warming) rise in sea level, but their reason doesn’t add up to the mid to north atlantic sea levels, nor apparently to Danish, German, Polish and Finnish, data.

    But what do I know. :p

  83. John Forker says:

    Local heating will raise sea level due to the lower density of the water. It will effectively float above the cooler average water and will not flow away, as there is no change in mass. Was the area warmed by undersea volcanic action during the higher sea level times and then cooled when the volcanic activity declined? There may be no data available to verify this, but it seems likely.

    -J

  84. Richard G says:

    “Ian W nails it. Global sea level is almost as useless as an Average Global Temperature.”
    I chalk it up to natural variability. Many variables, combined effect.
    Glacial rebound, subsidence, atmospheric pressure, thermal expansion, tidal variability, operator error, change relative to what?
    Can we measure sea level with the lading lines on a ship? As the load increases the sea level goes up, or does the hull go down?
    Hey Willis, try charting sea level against the Baltic Dry Index. See what you get.

  85. tokyoboy says:

    Thank you for posting this Willis.
    On the sea-level data our Meteorological Agency states as follows:
    1. They selected sites (4 till 1959, 16 since 1960) where land deformation is minimal.
    2. No clear long-term trend, as seen in the global data, is seen for Japan.
    3. The sea level was at maximum around 1950.
    4. A 20-year oscillation is evident.
    5. When corrected for land deformation, the sea-level trend shows a good correlation with the trend of sea surface temperature, especially for southern oceanic areas.

    They have 144 tide guges (partly defunct. Sorry all are in a bizarre language):
    http://cais.gsi.go.jp/cmdc/center/annualgra.html

    If you click area “VIII”, the 15th (No. 1602) is Wajima adopted in Willis’ Figure 1.
    Clicking area “III”, the tenth data (No. 1304) is for Ito, which exhibits 70 cm decrease in 35 years ( 2 cm / y) due probably to continuous land uplift ( Ito is in a seismically very active area where a next giant quake is expected… Oh God!).

  86. Once again, Willis has come up with some really interesting data that tweaks the imagination. Two significant features stand out:
    (1) Most of Japan appears to be rising–thus sea level stations should appear to be lowering. However, rather than relative lowering, Willis’s data shows sea level in Japan appears to be rising over the past 25 years, just the opposite of what we should see if tectonism is affecting relative sea level measurements in Japan. Conclusion–tectonism doesn’t seem to be the answer to the Japan sea level anomaly.
    (2) The Japanese sea level curve bears a remarkable resemblance to the global temperature curve over the same time period. But global sea level rise over the past century (2nd figure) doesn’t follow it at all. Why would Japanese sea level follow the global temperature curve if the global sea level doesn’t?
    Conclusion–neither tectonism nor global climate make any sense. Watts up with that?

  87. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Jeremy says:
    January 31, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Willis,

    Try googling “plate tectonics”. There is a surprising amount of movement in most parts of the globe both laterally as well as vertically.

    For example, the Himalayas are the result of uplift due to plate tectonics, as any geologist can affirm. These effects can be of the order of a decimeter per year.

    As an inhabitant of the “ring of fire”, I understand plate tectonics in the Pacific quite well. But for plate tectonics to do that, it would have to go up, then down, then up, then down, then up again … and meanwhile the satellite record agrees very well with the tide gauges, suggesting that at present, at least, ground movement is minimal.

    Like I said, it’s a mystery.

    w.

  88. Eric Simpson says:

    Intuitively, I believe the Japanese record is representative of the global changes. The other data could be dubious. Why? The decline coincides with the post 1940 temp drops, and we now see the ocean starting to decline just when things are starting to get cold. No coincidence. This suggests that we may be starting a long downward trend in sea level, for decades.
    I’m sure you know how the algor “FL will be drowned” Cry Wolf ‘Armageddon’s acomiin’ ‘disaster is ahead’ ‘The End is Nigh’ Chicken Littles will explain this away. But I don’t.
    There’s nothing wrong with the climate, and CO2 has nothing to do with it. Everyone in the U.S. needs to at least see just this ~ 3 minute video on the CO2 question, which also shows algor in a fundamental deception: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK_WyvfcJyg

  89. sophocles says:

    mkelly says:
    January 31, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Sloshing.
    ====================
    and Eftone says:
    That has my vote :). May I propose an addition? Global Sloshing. I just need a grant now…
    ======================================================================

    Atmospheric bomb testing (Bikini is in the middle of the Pacific) during the 1950s …
    Imagine the size of the ripples!

    Then the bomb testing went underground …

  90. Camburn says:

    Willis:
    It really isn’t a mystery at all.

    The population of Japan recovered during the time that sea levels around it dropped. The reason they dropped is because of the over fishing or the area.

    There is correlation there…..as the young population grew, the consumption grew and deprived the surrounding sea of a large mass of fish that if left uncaught, would have allowed the oceans to continue to rise in the area.

    Note how as the population aged, sea level started rising again.

    Cause and effect….now wasn’t that easy?

    (It worked for co2 didn’t it?)

  91. Charlie says:

    What about the impact of industrialisation on poorly compacted sediments. The 1950-1980- decline coincides with Japan’s industrialisation. Any de-watering of the ground or reduction of recharge from rainfall due to hard surfaces combined with increased loads from buildings could cause settlement . A similar example would be settlement in the centre of Mexico City . Post 1980, there is tectonic uplift.

  92. tokyoboy says:

    Charlie says: January 31, 2012 at 5:38 pm
    “The 1950-1980- decline coincides with Japan’s industrialisation.”

    I feel industrialization leads to local sea-level rise, due to aquifer depletion and ground lowering by increase of heavy buildings.
    A good example is Osaka, the second largest city, that can be reached by scrolling down the following link (6th graph, No.2415):
    http://cais.gsi.go.jp/cmdc/center/graph/kaiiki5.html

    You see Osaka’s sea level has risen (actually the ground has lowered) by as much as 2.6 m, mostly in periods of industrialization before and after WW-II, and stays fairly constant after 1980s, most probably reflecting near-saturation of urbanization.

  93. anticlimactic says:

    The Japanese record makes sense. We know the Arctic was almost free of ice in 1926 [airship flight to pole], and in 1950 [US Nuclear sub at pole], in 1970 here in the UK was a panicky program about how Earth was facing a new ice age. Not sure about the dip in the eighties. I remember reading about one expert who had been measuring sea levels for 50 years declaring that sealevels had not risen appreciably, and certainly not by the amounts claimed.

    The question is whether the ‘official’ graph has any basis in reality. Is this just another ‘hockey stick’? In the past WUWT has shown that the whole web can be ‘edited’ [not just Wikipedia!] and only by looking at articles printed in the past could the original data be seen. If the ‘official’ rise in sea level was so steep during the 20th century when did anyone express alarm? I would have thought Holland at least would have had some concerns.

    Or is this just a 21st century phenomenon, which no-one ‘noticed’ before the IPCC ‘drew it’ to our attention!

  94. Willis Eschenbach says:

    tokyoboy says:
    January 31, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Thank you for posting this Willis.
    On the sea-level data our Meteorological Agency states as follows:
    1. They selected sites (4 till 1959, 16 since 1960) where land deformation is minimal.

    Thank you for the tip. Do you have a link to information on

    1. Names of the four and the sixteen sites.

    2. Known vertical movements at the sites.

    They have 144 tide guges (partly defunct. Sorry all are in a bizarre language):
    http://cais.gsi.go.jp/cmdc/center/annualgra.html

    I speak four languages. Japanese is not among them. I tried studying it when I was in high school. It didn’t seem bizarre, but it had rules I couldn’t wrap my head around. As I recall there were different forms depending on what you are talking about (a round object, a hollow object, a dog, your friend, your boss) as well as who you are talking to (your dog, your friend, your boss).

    But that may just be my hazy memory. In any case, it would be great if you could see what you can find out about vertical land movements.

    w.

  95. Frank K. says:

    While the sea level data are very interesting, my question is this: Is sea level rise a problem? Answer: No. If there are any issues with sea levels rising over decades (and that’s a BIG if), don’t you think people will adapt as they always have (and always will)? Climate “scientists” appear to believe the population is too stupid to adapt, hence their need to drum up scare stories about global warming induced sea level change. Of course, scare stories also have the effect of increasing their take of the billions of dollars in government climate ca$h(tm). Whenever you see a climate-related scare stories, always follow the money…

  96. Pamela Gray says:

    No brainer. The whole damned island rises and falls at the drop of a hat. Kinda like measuring jello perched on a jack hammer.

  97. tokyoboy says:

    Willis Eschenbach says: January 31, 2012 at 6:37 pm
    “Do you have a link to information on
    1. Names of the four and the sixteen sites.”

    The (recent) 16 sites are as follows:
    *Wakkanai, Oshoro, and Hakodate (Hokkaido Island)
    *Fukaura, Hachinohe, Kashiwazaki, Wajima, Tokyo, Uchiura, Wakayama, and Hamada (Honshu Main Island)
    *Matsuyama and Tosa-shimizu (Shikoku Island)
    *Nagasaki, Aburatsu, and Makurazaki (Kyushu Island)

    And the (former) 4 sites are:
    Oshoro (Hokkaido), Wajima and Hamada (Honshu), and Hososhima (Kyushu)

    “2. Known vertical movements at the sites.”

    I’m not sure about this, but some relevant information may be obtained at our Geospatial Information Authority site:
    http://www.gsi.go.jp/ENGLISH/index.html

    I’ve just opened their page for the first time now, and will see if land movement data are available there. But please do not expect a soon posting: I don’t have much free time because of imminent retirement (end of March).

    “I speak four languages. ”

    It’s also four in my case (Japanese + English, German, French), though the level of refinement depends heavily from a language to another.

  98. Phil R says:

    Dave Wendt says:
    January 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    This merely illustrates a point I have tried to make quite a number of times in comments here. Most post and comment discussions on this topic are derailed from the start because they are based on the implicit fallacy that the seas are actually level i.e. that the massive waters of the world’s ocean’s will respond like a cake pan filled with water on your kitchen counter.

    Just curious, where do you live (not stalking, just curious, and region will do) and at what altitude
    (and what reference is used to determine your altitude)?

    And your longitude is…?

    Many reference points are, As you state, “completely artificial and abstract approximations…” They still serve a purpose because everyone can use them.

  99. AnonyMoose says:

    Jerker Andersson says:
    January 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm
    Missed one thing, the wind.
    Could there be a long term change in wind speed and does the data have a adjustments for longterm changes in wind speed? Considering the PDO etc and that Japan is in the Pacific, changing average wind speed piling up a little it more water on average along the coast could be a reason.

    That’s my guess. Sea level measurements from a source such as this has already had the necessary adjustments, so start by considering the graph may be right. The PDO shows that there are significant multidecadal changes in the Pacific. Ocean currents are wind-driven, and Japan is surrounded by currents from the north and south. Changes in global or local wind patterns can pile up water, or draw it away.

  100. ferd berple says:

    The BA charts for the remote Pacific, drawn by the likes of Cook, Vancouver, Bligh, and Flinders remain accurate 200+ years later. They have a GPS correction noted in the datum, but no “sea level rise” adjustment.

    These are the single most accurate record of global sea levels. Thousands if not millions of lives depend on them each year. So why no correction for sea level rise, if it is truly happening?

  101. Hutch says:

    Pamela’s right.

    There are only (apparently) four stations in Japan with long-term tidal records that pre-date 1960. If any of these stations lies in (or near) the coastal areas of SW Japan that coseismically uplifted* in the Tonankai (1944) and Nankaido (1946) earthquakes, the sudden drop in mean sea level in the late 1940′s is easily explained. These areas have been undergoing interseismic deformation since then, and that has likely also been imprinted on the MSL record.

    Moral: Don’t generalize about MSL tendencies from tectonically active areas.

    *Burbank, D.W. and Anderson, R.S. 2001. “Tectonic Geomorphology” (Wiley) is probably the most widely available source that shows the deformation pattern (see Fig. 5.11)

  102. Nick Shaw says:

    All this conjecture when the answer is obvious, Japan floats.
    When people get off or on, it goes up and down.
    Just like Guam. Except it’s too big to tip over.
    Just ask Congressman Hank Johnson. He’ll tell you.
    ;-)

  103. Mike Wryley says:

    Willis,
    I think you could make a case for sea level changes due to the conservation of angular momentum. Large masses of water moving north to south, south to north and every where in between, are going to pile up in some cases and thin down in others.
    Mystery solved.

  104. tokyoboy says:

    For the past 10 years, most sites in Japan appear to have been sibsiding:
    http://mekira.gsi.go.jp/project/f3_10_5/en/index.html
    (Click “Vertical” of DIRECTION on the right-hand side)

    However, I feel (though not sure) the sea-level data have been corrected for such land deformation.

  105. Dave Wendt says:

    Phil R says:
    January 31, 2012 at 7:40 pm
    Dave Wendt says:
    January 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    “Just curious, where do you live (not stalking, just curious, and region will do) and at what altitude
    (and what reference is used to determine your altitude)?

    I’m in Minnesota. I generally try to maintain an altitude of ground level. The elevation of my home is approximately 1200 ft which is relative to NGVD 29, although I’m reasonably certain that most of the reference benchmark network in the area has been updated to NAVD 88.

    “Many reference points are, As you state, “completely artificial and abstract approximations…” They still serve a purpose because everyone can use them.”

    Yes people can use abstractions and find them useful, but it helps if they take cognizance of their limitations when they do

  106. kwik says:

    Averaging temperatures, averaging CO2 ppm, averaging sealevel measurements…..

    I can find no better way to obscure the understanding what is going on with a planet system.

    Why not average all telephone numbers in the world, call that number, and “project” that the world is going under, because soon the devil will pick up the phone?

  107. tokyoboy says:

    kwik says: January 31, 2012 at 11:30 pm
    “Averaging temperatures, averaging CO2 ppm, averaging sealevel measurements…..”

    I totally agree with you. Each of the 144 Japanese tide gauges exhibits a distinct feature; up, down, or nearly unchanged, probably reflecting local land deformation.

  108. thingadonta says:

    Japan’s sea levels havent been tampered with by western alarmists. Perhaps they should send it over to the NZ temperature guys to fix it.

  109. thepompousgit says:
    January 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm
    @ Tony Brown

    I really enjoyed reading sea level changes from the Holocene to the Romans. Where do I find parts 2 & 3?”

    You can read the next instalment when I have written it :)

    Currently I am writing part 2 of ‘Historic variations in Arctic Ice’ covering the Holocene through to 1800 as that will likely inform the background for ‘ sea level changes part 2′ covering the Romans through to around 1600.

    The rationale for doing it that way round is that logically melting ice should equate to rising sea levels, but what the time lapse would be -if there is the correlation- remains to be seen.

    If you enjoy history, did you catch my recent article ‘The Long slow Thaw’
    Thanks for your interest
    Tonyb

  110. John Marshall says:

    Japan is sited over a subduction zone with many earthquakes, a high proportion above 5.0. Japan will be rising and falling, relative to the center of the earth, giving these changes that are themselves added to sea level changes.

  111. James says:

    … just thinking as a layman, if and area of the earth (say Japan) rises slightly then surely the surface area of the planet available to the oceans decreases by degree – therefore it has to rise in level – doesn’t it? . and vice versa?

    So, surely the measurement of sea level rise/or fall can only be attributed to “climate change” once we have understand land mass rise and fall annually around the globe and factored that data into the calculation. (I’m glad its not my job!)

    Land mass rise or fall maybe regional – but water finds its own level doesn’t it?

  112. agfosterjr says:

    The satellite readings are oblivious to local ground movement. I think what is really being measured is the strength of the Kuroshio current, one of the strongest in the world. The faster it moves, the higher the water piles up due to the Coriolis effect. But the Oyashio current complicates things. –AGF

  113. James says:

    … please forgive my naivety, but my layman brain is now aching! Every land reclamation project around the globe (holland, dubai, singapore, etc,etc) (unless the “stuff” that becomes above the sea came from under the sea) plus every ship and boat that is launched every year must also contribute, albeit by a very small degree, to an increase in global sea level.

    Every underwater eruption that creates another undersea volcano or new island, all coastal erosion etc, etc,……

  114. James says:

    more questions … does coastal erosion have an equal and opposite condition – i.e. is their such a thing as coastal “deposit”?

    Am I right in thinking that coastal erosion = increase sea level? – I.e. land that was above sea level falls into the sea – therefore the sea has to rise? Or, do coasts “retreat” giving the sea more “room” and cancel out the effects?

    … brain fade.

  115. Paul Vaughan says:

    Thanks again to tokyoboy for drawing our attention to Japanese Sea Level:

    1. Graph:
    http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/shindan/a_1/sl_trend/sl_trend_graph.png

    2. Oct. 19, 2009:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/10/18/maldivians-pull-underwater-publicity-stunt/#comment-207083

    3. Nov. 11, 2010:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/11/27720/#comment-528106

    4. Data:
    http://cais.gsi.go.jp/cmdc/center/annual.html

    A link from here [ http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ja&tl=en&twu=1&u=http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/shindan/a_1/sl_trend/sl_trend.html ] is labeled “due to the strength of the westerly and north-south movement of the North Pacific Ocean”. It leads to:

    “Fluctuation in the Japanese sea level (the relationship between westerly)
    http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ja&tl=en&u=http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/shindan/a_1/sl_trend/sl_ref/sl_model.html&usg=ALkJrhiVkoiJ8u02TSiHlS8J3zSxUPIrKQ

    “[...] changes in sea level in Japanese waters, the ocean surface caused by the mechanical response to changes in the westerlies in the central North Pacific Ocean [...]“ Graph: http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/shindan/a_1/sl_trend/sl_ref/sl_model_fig2.gif

    Point of clarification: “sea level corrections for ground deformation:” http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ja&tl=en&u=http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/shindan/a_1/sl_trend/sl_ref/sl_clust.html&usg=ALkJrhjZIMiyUb1RJKVXCSWDSacskubL-Q

    More detailed commentary another day. Off to work…

  116. Dixon says:

    James says:
    February 1, 2012 at 4:22 am…
    I think a back of the envelope calculate based on the displaced volume of water from the world tonnage of shipping will help put things into perspective (I recall trying to see how much energy you might get if you tied a large ship to a generator via some gears in a port with a large tidal range – it was the beginning of ‘reality bites’ for me and ‘green’ energy.

    Re the original post: I can’t think of any place less likely to match a global trend of sea-level than Japan – maybe Alaska: I seem to recall the 1964 earthquake had a massive, immediate, effect on local sea-levels (that reversed and exceeded previous trends). You would need to be VERY sure the tectonic and atmospheric adjustments for the Japanese sites were correct before believing tide gauge data reflected changing sea-level change only.

    But even The Team have so far failed to massage the sea-level rise into something anyone can seriously get worried about and if the Australian Baseline Sealevel Monitoring Project ever starts showing significant rises I’ll think about adapting (after a quick and dirty validation of the data against my local Harbour, which is one of the monitoring sites!).

  117. Steveo says:

    The folly of thinking that the volumes are some kind of constant and able to measure temperature or simple volume differences in water alone. You have moving and changing volumes in everything in the system. You could have a new mountain chain grow out of the ocean floor and displace 10% of the water and appear as melting ice, when it is volcanic activity. Plus you would get some ocean warming as a result. again, this points to so many variables present that it is irresponsible and impossible to tell what is happening in all the systems. What would happen to the ocean floor or plate tectonics if the oceans rose a few inches, I suppose they would displace somewhat from the extra weight. the entire system is moving and shifting on a sea of molten metals and rock.

  118. Richard M says:

    My initial thoughts were ENSO/PDO. A couple of other possible considerations are LOD and Lunar variations although I have no idea if they would create decades long cycles.

  119. M.A.Vukcevic says:

    Added major Japan earthquakes to 1940 (too many listed after 1940 to show)
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/JMF.htm
    as listed in Wikipedia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earthquakes_in_Japan
    the most of the earthquakes occurred at the point of change in the direction of the magnetic field intensity.

  120. Tenuc says:

    As said by posters above, sea level is a local variable which depends on many local factors, therefore trying to ‘invent’ a mean global sea level and then expect to see a trend of any change that has any worth is unscientific and the method has no predictive capability.

    No surprise, therefore, that there is no match between the Japanese tide gauge data and the estimated global mean. One day, when we have better detailed data we will be able to start asking the right questions about Earth’s total water content in all it’s dynamic phases. Until then casting chicken entrails would give as good in providing a forecast of future changes… :-)

  121. Heber Rizzo says:

    climatereason says:
    January 31, 2012 at 11:58 am

    A very good article about “Historic Variations in Sea Levels Part 1″.
    Where can I find parts 2 and 3?

  122. James says:

    Hmmm! I thought being a layman (albeit a sceptical one) was easy!

    I just assumed that it was accepted by all that sea level rises, if there are any, were attributable to climate “warming” (however caused).

    It would appear that global sea level rises are meaningless – even if they could be measured – because of all of the other factors that might be contributing pluses and minuses.

    As I undersatnd it now, land masses might rise or fall because of seismic activity or because ice has melted off it – or more has frozen on it. Does anyone “know” the result of all of this? Are satellites capable of measuring changes around the planet and determining whether, at any point in time, more land is further from the centre of the earth – or less?

    If molten lava rises above “ground” level (even under the sea) does it leave a hole – or does the land surface sink to fill the void?

    So many questions … so little brain power!

  123. kwik says:

    James says:
    February 1, 2012 at 8:37 am

    “I just assumed that it was accepted by all that sea level rises, if there are any, were attributable to climate “warming” (however caused).”

    Ah, but if you interview scientists who are involved with actual measurement of sealevel, the picture becomes very, very different. Gone is the MSM press release alarmism. The hysteria is simply….gone. Back is the ordinary scientist, who cannot really draw any conlusions, because there is so much going on….land rising, land falling, currents, tides…..it goes on and on.

    The clue from the IPCC’s viewpoint is to get rid of all these bothersome scientists, and give out only one message;

    The world is doomed, unless we act NOW.

    And what is the action? Transfer money from the rich world to the poor world. The problem with that is that when you shut down all fossil fuel driven industries in the west, there will not be any rich countries left to transfer from. Everyone gets poor. And what then? Pol Pot knew what then.

  124. Willis Eschenbach says:

    My thanks to Paul Vaugan, who has posted this link to the explanation of my question from the Japanese Met. Service.

    They say the answer to my question is wind. Plain old garden variety wind, piling the ocean up around Japan.

    Dang … I do love this website. There’s no end of the things that I can learn here.

    Best to all, I’m gonna think about wind now …

    w.

  125. climatereason said @ February 1, 2012 at 1:43 am

    thepompousgit says:
    January 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm
    @ Tony Brown

    I really enjoyed reading sea level changes from the Holocene to the Romans. Where do I find parts 2 & 3?”

    You can read the next instalment when I have written it :)

    Currently I am writing part 2 of ‘Historic variations in Arctic Ice’ covering the Holocene through to 1800 as that will likely inform the background for ‘ sea level changes part 2′ covering the Romans through to around 1600.

    The rationale for doing it that way round is that logically melting ice should equate to rising sea levels, but what the time lapse would be -if there is the correlation- remains to be seen.

    If you enjoy history, did you catch my recent article ‘The Long slow Thaw’
    Thanks for your interest
    Tonyb

    Yes, I have read several of your thought provoking pieces. This latest brought back fond memories of holidaying in Marazion when I was a teenager: Cornish ice-cream, Dad getting legless on the local cider, losing our dog and discovering her following a man with the exact same colour trousers as Dad…

    I look forward to your next essay :-)

  126. thepompousgit

    My dog is now 17 but she would always follow the ice cream rather than the trousers :)
    tonyb

  127. RoHa says:

    “I am forced to assume that there are no obvious errors in the Japanese records.”

    That will be a relief for the guys and gals at the JMA. You know what they would have had to do if you had found an error.

    “But it is unlike any record I’ve seen of the global average change in sea level.”

    Just part of standard Japanese weirdness.

  128. Willis Eschenbach says:

    RoHa says:
    February 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    “I am forced to assume that there are no obvious errors in the Japanese records.”

    That will be a relief for the guys and gals at the JMA. You know what they would have had to do if you had found an error.

    Your naive assumption that all of the worlds’ records are in perfect shape is quite touching. I was more interested in if, for example, the Japanese records had been adjusted in some fashion not used by the PSMSL, or if they disagreed with the satelllites, or if I were just misunderstanding what they had done. It’s bog-common due diligence to check your data, and anyone in the climate science world who blindly believes in someone’s data is very foolish.

    w.

  129. Paul Vaughan says:

    Willis, compare Japanese sea level with All India monsoon rainfall index for some insights. And Important: I strongly recommend reading up on what climatologists call “thermal wind”.

    Strong equator-pole temperature gradients create strong equator-pole pressure gradient forces. For example, look at the very steep winter temperature gradient along the east coasts of Eurasia & North America…

    2m Temperature:
    http://i55.tinypic.com/dr75s7.png

    Cross-reference with the following, noting the flashy spots…

    Net Surface Heat Flux:
    http://oi54.tinypic.com/334teyt.jpg

    Column-integrated Heating:
    http://i55.tinypic.com/317jchy.png

    Coriolis does some deflecting, so equator-pole pressure gradients end up driving westerly winds…

    10m Wind:
    http://i44.tinypic.com/28rgyzo.png

    Near-Surface (850hPa) Wind:
    http://i52.tinypic.com/nlo3dw.png

    Near-Surface (850hPa) Wind — Polar View:
    http://i54.tinypic.com/29vlc0x.png

    So it’s no surprise to see how water gets tossed around in the atmosphere…

    Column-integrated Water Vapor Flux with their Convergence:
    http://i51.tinypic.com/126fc77.png

    And it’s the wind that drives the major ocean gyres…

    Wind-Driven Ocean Currents:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/Ocean_currents_1943_%28borderless%293.png

    Next, look at it vertically…

    Zonal Wind Vertical Profile:
    http://i51.tinypic.com/34xouhx.png

    Note the ~200hPa red spots — a few other perspectives on them:

    200hPa Wind:
    http://i52.tinypic.com/zoamog.png

    200hPa Wind — Polar View:
    http://i52.tinypic.com/cuqyt.png

    Now, I’ll just bowl a bunch of other stuff at you in case you have time to work on your mulivariate visualization…

    Precipitable Water:
    http://i52.tinypic.com/9r3pt2.png

    Net Surface Solar Radiation:
    http://i53.tinypic.com/2r5pw9k.png

    Zonal Mean Temperature Vertical Profile:
    http://i56.tinypic.com/1441k5d.png

    Kinetic Energy of High Frequency Variation at 500 hPa:
    http://i41.tinypic.com/8zenb7.png

    Isotachs & Pressure at 550K:
    http://i56.tinypic.com/14t0kns.png

    Low Level Cloud Cover:
    http://i52.tinypic.com/auw1s0.png

    Number of Tropical Cyclone Days:
    http://i44.tinypic.com/9thc8j.png

    Omega @ 700hPa:
    http://i53.tinypic.com/28tvqt1.png

    Vertical Velocity:
    http://i54.tinypic.com/2ch4x28.png

    Mean Sea Level Pressure:
    http://i54.tinypic.com/swg11c.png

    Take a minute to compare the last 2 with the pattern of 10m wind (way up near the top of the list).

    Seasonal ITCZ Limits:
    (a) http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/global52.jpg
    (b) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/ITCZ_january-july.png

    Credit: Climatology animations have been assembled using JRA-25 Atlas [ http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm ] images. JRA-25 long-term reanalysis is a collaboration of Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) & Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI).

    This is just the beginning of the story.

  130. Paul Vaughan says:

    Missed a few…

    Snow Depth:
    http://i39.tinypic.com/2yywnlh.png

    Precipitation:
    http://i42.tinypic.com/2njypw9.png

    Monthly Maximum of Daily Precipitation:
    http://i41.tinypic.com/34gasr7.png

    Evaporation Minus Precipitation:
    http://i43.tinypic.com/2isvynb.png

    And let me re-emphasize these gems:

    =
    200hPa Wind:
    http://i52.tinypic.com/zoamog.png

    200hPa Wind — Polar View:
    http://i52.tinypic.com/cuqyt.png
    =

    Yes, they’re important.

  131. RoHa says:

    @ Willis
    “Your naive assumption that all of the worlds’ records are in perfect shape is quite touching”

    Eh? Where did I make that assumption? You said that you assumed there were no errors in the JMA figures. I said that if you had found an error the JMA people would have had to deal with their shame in the tradtional manner.

    No mention of all the world’s records.

  132. Willis Eschenbach says:

    RoHa says:
    February 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    @ Willis

    “Your naive assumption that all of the worlds’ records are in perfect shape is quite touching”

    Eh? Where did I make that assumption? You said that you assumed there were no errors in the JMA figures. I said that if you had found an error the JMA people would have had to deal with their shame in the tradtional manner.

    Ah, humor, they would have had to commit seppuku. I missed your meaning entirely, quite clever actually, so my apologies, my bad.

    Best to you,

    w.

  133. Brian H says:

    Tonyb: “the sarellite record” — Is that specific to Japanese sarellites?
    :0
    ;)

  134. Brian H says:

    kwik says:
    February 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

    James says:
    February 1, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Transfer money from the rich world to the poor world.

    You miss the point, which is hiding in plain sight. They don’t give a rap about the “poor world”, or hate the “rich world”. It’s the intermediate process, the TRANSFER that they want to implement and be in charge of!

    Therein lies untold power, and mind-numbing opportunities for skimming and deflection.

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