North Carolina sea levels rising 3mm a year? UC sea level data says differently

Below: North Carolina’s Albemarle Sound.

Note marker at 36N -76W.

Image from Google Earth

First the Press Release from the University of Pennsylvania:

North Carolina Sea Levels Rising Three Times Faster Than in Previous 500 Years, Penn Study Says

October 28, 2009

PHILADELPHIA –- An international team of environmental scientists led by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that sea-level rise, at least in North Carolina, is accelerating. Researchers found 20th-century sea-level rise to be three times higher than the rate of sea-level rise during the last 500 years. In addition, this jump appears to occur between 1879 and 1915, a time of industrial change that may provide a direct link to human-induced climate change.

The results appear in the current issue of the journal Geology.

The rate of relative sea-level rise, or RSLR, during the 20th century was 3 to 3.3 millimeters per year, higher than the usual rate of one per year. Furthermore, the acceleration appears consistent with other studies from the Atlantic coast, though the magnitude of the acceleration in North Carolina is larger than at sites farther north along the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic coast and may be indicative of a latitudinal trend related to the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Understanding the timing and magnitude of this possible acceleration in the rate of RSLR is critical for testing models of global climate change and for providing a context for 21st-century predictions.

“Tide gauge records are largely inadequate for accurately recognizing the onset of any acceleration of relative sea-level rise occurring before the 18th century, mainly because too few records exist as a comparison,” Andrew Kemp, the paper’s lead author, said. “Accurate estimates of sea-level rise in the pre-satellite era are needed to provide an appropriate context for 21st-century projections and to validate geophysical and climate models.”

The research team studied two North Carolina salt marshes that form continuous accumulations of organic sediment, a natural archive that provides scientists with an accurate way to reconstruct relative sea levels using radiometric isotopes and stratigraphic age markers. The research provided a record of relative sea-level change since the year 1500 at the Sand Point and Tump Point salt marshes in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system of North Carolina. The two marshes provided an ideal setting for producing high-resolution records because thick sequences of high marsh sediment are present and the estuarine system is microtidal, which reduces the vertical uncertainty of

paleosea-level estimates. The study provides for the first time replicated sea-level reconstructions from two nearby sites.

In addition, comparison with 20th-century tide-gauge records validates the use of this approach and suggests that salt-marsh records with decadal and decimeter resolution can supplement tide-gauge records by extending record length and compensating for the strong spatial bias in the global distribution of longer instrumental records.

The study was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Ocean Program, North Carolina Coastal Geology Cooperative Program, U.S. Geological Survey and National Science Foundation.

The study was conducted by Kemp and Benjamin P. Horton of the Sea-Level Research Laboratory at Penn, Stephen J. Culver and D. Reide Corbett of the Department of Geological Sciences at East Carolina University, Orson van de Plassche of Vrije Universiteit, W. Roland Gehrels of the University of Plymouth, Bruce C. Douglas of Florida International University and Andrew C. Parnell of University College Dublin.

I was curious, because this seemed a bit “off” to me based on other data that I’ve seen. So I went to the University of Colorado Sea Level data server and entered the coordinates for Albemarle Sound (36N -76W or in their usage 36N 284W).


The graph they serve up looks like this:

From - click to reproduce there

It’s low resolution, but does look rather flat. Fortunately they provide the data with the plot. You can read all about the Topex/Poseidon data preparation here.

I took that raw data and plotted it here in an expanded size and did a trend line, shown below:

click for larger image

The result was surprising. A slight negative trend.

I chose a different location to get closer to Pamlico Sound, also cited in the study. Unfortunately the interactive tool at UC is coarse on lat/lon and the closest I could get was 35N -76W, just off the outer banks.

The data from that point is plotted below. The source data for 35N -76W  is available here.

click for a larger image

Apologies for the slight cosmetic differences in line size between the two graphs. I had a computer reset between sessions and lost some settings.

So, if there is 3mm rise per year recently, since 1992, we certainly can’t see it. I can’t say anything for the other years in the study.

But in the press release they say:

The rate of relative sea-level rise, or RSLR, during the 20th century was 3 to 3.3 millimeters per year, higher than the usual rate of one per year.

If that is true, then the rate appears to have slowed significantly in the late 20th century to present. For 35N, -76W, the 1.12mm/yr rate certainly looks like the “…usual rate of one per year”.

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October 29, 2009 1:06 am

Sea level on the East coast is related to two things: Wind direction, and gulf stream. See this for example.

Sea levels rose as much as 2 feet (60 centimeters) higher than predicted this summer along the U.S. East Coast, surprising scientists who forecast such periodic fluctuations.
The immediate cause of the unexpected rise has now been solved, U.S. officials say in a new report (hint: it wasn’t global warming). But the underlying reason remains a mystery.

Now a new report has identified the two major factors behind the high sea levels—a weakened Gulf Stream and steady winds from the northeastern Atlantic.

October 29, 2009 1:07 am

A media not awash in dishonesty would have dug out this information instead of simply publishing what they were told to.
Weren’t we recently told that the media are the guardians of truth?

October 29, 2009 1:08 am

There are more and more such junk studies appearing recently, contradicting itself and not agreeing with actual measurements (like Kaufman Arctic hockey stick).
This jump appears to occur between 1879 and 1915, a time of industrial change that may provide a direct link to human-induced climate change.
Pardon me, but “human induced climate change” newspeak usually means rising temperatures – which is absolutely no case in that period, since temperatures were falling then:
Did they clarify, which physical mechanism exactly caused mentioned step-increase in sea level, if melting glaciers, icecaps or thermal expansion were obviously not the case?

October 29, 2009 1:10 am

Let me speculate that if the coastal area in question has undergone some degree of development in these decades, the cause of “sea level rise” is probably “land sink” due to weight increase.
In Japan, the coast of Osaka City has exhibited a 2.6-m rise due mostly to development, which was slowed during wartime/post-wartime (ca. 10 years) and after the near-completion of development (1980s-present):

October 29, 2009 1:11 am

“coast of Osaka” should read “sea level at the coast of Osaka”. Sorry…….

October 29, 2009 1:20 am

Here are the four North Carolina tidal gage readings from NOAA. The Penn State researchers call them inadequate. Samples at three of the sites are sporadic, but Wilmington is almost continuous back to 1935:
Oregon Inlet Marina trend = 2.82mm/year
Beaufort trend = 2.57mm/yr
Wilmington trend = 2.07mm/yr
Southport trend = 2.08mm/yr

October 29, 2009 1:24 am

And do we know what is happening with local subsidence?
In Australia, the sites showing greatest sea level rise are those where it is known that subsidence has occurred. eg Newcastle, Adelaide and Fremantle.
Of course, one could ask whether CSIRO (the providers of the data) and the MSM report this. You can guess the answer.

October 29, 2009 1:29 am

Another sensationalist AGW onslaught from Australia has been reported by the BBC.
“Australians may have to leave coastal areas as rising sea levels threaten homes, according to a new report.”

October 29, 2009 1:40 am

Hmmm. The claimed acceleration of sea level is also not reflected in the paleoclimatological reconstruction of North Atlantic SST:
SUGGESTED DATA CITATION: Gray, S.T., et al.. 2004.Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) Index Reconstruction.IGBP PAGES/World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Data Contribution Series #2004-062. NOAA/NGDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder CO, USA.
Data and Description
This was illustrated with others in my “SST Reconstructions” post here:

October 29, 2009 1:42 am

It’s 5 weeks before Copenhagen meeting, so they say 3mm/year SSH increase, “3x faster than normal.” When it’s 2 weeks before Copenhagen, more studies will crop up, “4x faster than normal.” It’s good that you compared their study with UCB data, Anthony.

Kirk W. Hanneman
October 29, 2009 1:43 am

Obviously those massive CO2 emissions from 1879 to 1915 are the cause. It’s common sense, really.

Cassandra King
October 29, 2009 1:51 am

The ever alarmist BBC has just issued a warning that the coastline of Wales in the UK will have to be evacuated and abandoned due to rising sea levels due to climate change, interestingly just like the Australian scare story there is no time scale mentioned, perhaps because the time taken to actually flood the areas in question would take centuries on current rises, maybe the scaremongers are banking that by the time the lies are found out then many will be either dead or pensioned off long before.
Commentators are correct about the huge rise in trash science scare stories and pseudo science mumbo jumbo, the avalanche of rubbish doesnt have to be true because none of the stories will ever be corrected, in fact the alarmists can invent the most outrageous lies without fear of being called to account for the lies, it is heaven on earth for a political propagandist to be able to spread complete lies with no constriction.

October 29, 2009 2:06 am

tokyoboy (01:10:13) :
And seismic activity would greatly contribute to subsidence for non-consolidated materials.

October 29, 2009 2:22 am

Thank Gaia that we don’t have many poley bears here in Australia, because we are all about to get swamped by Global-Warming induced sea-level rise.
It has become such a crisis (in the last two weeks) that the Federal Government is seriously considering taking over (compulsorily, of course) the devlopment approval process of local councils, to ensure that people are not allowed to build residential structures in any coastal area that may be prone to sea-level rise.
The simple answer is KaboomCover. We will insure the market-value of your sea-front property, assessed as at the date of your first premium payment, against loss resulting from sea-level rise*.
For an average premium of $500 AUD per annum (individual residence), we will provide you with the peace-of-mind to be able to enjoy your waterfront property unconcerned about inevitable climate induced waterlogging, and consequent loss of resale value.
Please check the Product Disclosure Statement on our website, in order to make certain that this policy is right for you.
* the term “sea-level rise” means a scientifically proven increase in average sea-levels. It does not include high tides, King tides, Spring tides, lunar tides, Tsunamis, or normal beach erosion.

October 29, 2009 2:25 am

International franchises for KaboomCover are now available!
There must be a gravy train that we can get on………..

Mark Fawcett
October 29, 2009 2:29 am

The research team studied two North Carolina salt marshes that form continuous accumulations of organic sediment, a natural archive that provides scientists with an accurate way to reconstruct relative sea levels using radiometric isotopes and stratigraphic age markers.
Wonder what Mr McIntyre would make of the analysis :o) (I think he’s probably got bigger fish to fry at the moment.)
In addition, comparison with 20th-century tide-gauge records validates the use of this approach and suggests that salt-marsh records with decadal and decimeter resolution can supplement tide-gauge records by extending record length and compensating for the strong spatial bias in the global distribution of longer instrumental records.
(Leaving aside the self-contradiction that previously said tide-gauges were unreliable…)
Am I getting déjà vu here? To my, admittedly untrained, eye this smacks almost exactly of the same debate that’s been raging about Briffa / Yamal etc. To whit: using a period of “correlation” to “validate” your proxy method, regardless of the fact that there are many, many other variables that can cause your proxy to change its behaviour over time and that you actively chose the samples that “fit”.
Mmm we need a new word – sludgemometer?

Jimmy Haigh
October 29, 2009 2:32 am

There are many factors governing sea level. Some not mentioned here include rate of subsidence and coastal erosion or redeposition. From a quick look at the geography of the Carolinas it is clear that there is a lot of coastal erosion/ redeposition going on and as such it is hardly the best place to figure out what global sea level is doing.

Capn Jack Walker
October 29, 2009 2:35 am

Perry 1:29.
Dont worry I am in the swamp, actually i’m about 5 foot above it.
I havent been down the swamp in four weeks but I’m not seeing my neighbors packing up and moving.
If we were having some kind of flood problem, I’d see it.
But I was going to offer Prime Minister Rudd, some money to take his new found holiday home off him, him being scared of floods and cyclones and droughts and whatever he needs to panic me nation. I thought a hundred doublooms would fix it. Would the tosser be interested in a say 500 dollars?
I live in a swamp or near it. I been at sealevel more than a decade.
It is bs and the funny thing all these tossers, throwing cyclones, floods and rising seas all have beach front holiday homes.
They are big fat liars.

Dave Wendt
October 29, 2009 2:46 am

Let me see if I have this correct. The tide gauges can’t be trusted to give reliable data on sea level, but these clucks can stare at some mud flats, the latest bowl of entrails du jour, and ascertain sea level readings accurate to the millimeter. Yeah, I could see how that would work.

October 29, 2009 3:04 am

“rcrejects (01:24:51) :
And do we know what is happening with local subsidence? ”
I sailed around Cape Hatteras many years ago, and I know for a fact that the charts were not all that good, when it came to measuring the depth. Sand bars stick straight out from shore for miles at Hattaras and Cape Fear, quite different from the bars that parallel the shore. There were suppose to be summer channels through these bars marked by buoys. In those days you stood at the bow and slung a lead weight on a rope ahead to measure depth, and I was pretty freaked out because the depth was nothing like the charts. Not only that, but one of the buoys had simply vanished, so we suddenly had no idea whether we were in the channel or not, towards the end. We made it through without the keel grounding, but I learned that sand shifts all over the place. Even if a hurricane passes miles out to sea tons and tons of sand get rearranged.
Once you start talking a hundred years, you are likely talking about megatons and megatons of sand being shifted. The maps from 1906 look quite different from modern maps. I doubt anyone knows whether the continental plate beneath gets depressed or uplifted, or both.
In other words, it’s not the most stable environment. I’d chose a more stable environment, to get the best measure of the sea level.

October 29, 2009 3:16 am

A minor correction – the press release is from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), not The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). Bad enough that Penn State has to be saddled with Mann, don’t put the blame on us for this, as well.
REPLY: Fixed thanks. -A

david alan
October 29, 2009 3:20 am

The Science Behind AGW Is Contrived.
I mean that literally.
[Contrive: When referring to a work of art, one that has been created in a labored way, not spontaneously, with dexterity but little inspiration. Brought into being as a trick or in an obvious way, especially in its content, intent, and / or process.]
Supporters for AGW accept their ideology solely because of years of conditioning.
There are those that profess a ‘consensus’ is established and no debate shall impede the global advancement for a cleaner,healthier world. That is the religion of the environmentalist.
We skeptics also want a greener world, just not the one being forced on us.
Others, whether in the media or scientific community, continue to support that contrivance with even more ridiculous claims and ridiculous scientific evidence.
A believer in AGW, when faced with weather anomalies contrary to the ‘consensus’, dismiss it. That same believer of the ‘consensus’ when faced with new weather anomolies that support their view, embrace it.
Let’s face it. The believer of AGW is not fighting the skeptic, they are fighting a tormoil within themselves.
If the consensus was ‘in’, why bother further support for AGW. The evidence for further support for AGW won’t convince a skeptic. The skeptic has reviewed the contrivances of the AGW science and any further proof only irritates and annoys them. I suppose more sensationalism might garner support for some ‘on the fence’, but I doubt it. If people aren’t decided , for or against AGW, I imagine that they don’t care or don’t want to be bothered by it. So sensationalist claims and more contrived evidence has to be targetting the AGW believer for more conditioning.
A skeptic has reviewed the science and has determined that scientific facts are manipulated and impressed upon the weak. A skeptic searches for the truth and is disgusted by the media and the scientists that prey upon the weak.
I hope for more damning evidence to wake up the AGW believer and join us in seeking the truth.

Thomas J. Arnold.
October 29, 2009 3:23 am

Perry – (01:29:12) : it goes on;
Click here for latest Beeb, on (BBC World) BS;
Having been abroad recently I was priviledged to witness this load of verbose guff. The earnest expressions say it all.
The above piece features such luminaries as; Manual Barroso, Mario Molina and Pachauri, talk about the converted/deluded. What point is there to a discussion with these ‘Yes men’??
Heavens above!

October 29, 2009 3:33 am

Isn’t Mann a Penn State Alumnus?
“In addition, this jump appears to occur between 1879 and 1915, a time of industrial change that may provide a direct link to human-induced climate change.”
Well… The “jump” in sea level preceded the “jump” in CO2… Therefore, since ad hoc ergo propter hoc” is a logical fallacy, the CO2 “jump” after 1940 caused the sea level “jump” from 1879 to 1915.
Don’t they teach about the Little Ice Age in University Park PA?

October 29, 2009 3:35 am

I would have thought that extensive saltmarshes would be a terrible indicator of mean sea level. They subside under their own weight. The amount of deposition from the rivers would cause the salt marsh to apparently rise and fall relative to sea level even if MSL were constant.

Richard Mackey
October 29, 2009 3:49 am

Constant rate of sea level rise of approx 1.9mm pa throughout the last 100 years
In a definitive paper about sea level change, “Sea level budget over 2003-2008: A re-evaluation from GRACE space gravimetry, satellite altimetry and Argo” (Global and Planetary Change Vo 65, Issues 1 – 2 , January 2009, Pages 83-88 preprint here ))
Dr Anny Cazenave et al conclude:
“Over 2003–2008, the GRACE-based ocean mass has increased at an average rate of ∼1.9 mm/yr (if we take the upper range of possible GIA corrections as recommended by Peltier, submitted for publication). Such a rate agrees well with the sum of land ice plus land water contributions (i.e., GRACE-based ice sheet mass balance estimated in this study, GRACE-based land waters plus recently published estimates for the current glacier contribution). These results in turn offer constraints on the ocean mass GIA correction, as well as on the glacier melting contribution.”
The authors also note that since 2006 the rate of increase seems to have plateauxed, an observation since confirmed by others.
Twenty years ago in 1990 Trupin and Wahr in a highly rigorous paper (A Trupin and J Wahr “Orthogonal Stack of Global Tide Gauge Sea Level Data” pps 111 to 117 in Dennis D McCarthy and William Carter (eds) Variations in Earth Rotation Geophysical Monograph 59 American Geophysical Union and International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics Vol 9 1990) found:
“Global averages of tide data, after correcting for the effects of post glacial rebound on individual station records, reveal an increase in sea level over the last 80 years of between 1.1mm/yr and 1.9mm/yr, …. with a preferred value of 1.75mm/yr.”
The value of approx 1.9mm/yr accords with other estimate published around that time.
The conclusion from these published papers, both rigorous and definitive, is that the rate of increase of the ocean mass has been constant for over 100 years at approximately 1.9mm/yr.
If the ocean mass has been increasing at the constant rate of approximately 1.9mm/yr for the last 100 years, its temperature cannot have been increasing at an increasing rate as the IPCC hypothesised. This is because warmer water occupies a greater volume that cooler water, other things being equal. Hence there is no trace of any increased temperature in the total mass of the oceans that could be attributable to AWG as the IPCC hypothesised.
In Australia’s Commonwealth Parliament, The Commonwealth Government in response to Senator Fielding stressed that ocean warming is the best test of the IPCC AGW hypothesis and that time periods of 50 years or longer are required to discern long term trends in climate with confidence.
Throughout the past 100 years GHGs have been increasing but ocean temperatures have been rising at a tiny constant rate of 1.9mm/yr which is entirely attributable to non GHG variables.
The Government’s nominated test of the basis for the cap and trade bill shows clearly that there is no empirical basis for the bill.

Stephen Skinner
October 29, 2009 3:55 am

“This jump appears to occur between 1879 and 1915, a time of industrial change that may provide a direct link to human-induced climate change.”
I thought there was greater industrial change and output between 1914/18 and 1939/45. This may not be a true measure of overall industrial output, but as an example, the amount of aircraft produced between 39/45 still has not been exceeded and that is including all the years since 1945.

October 29, 2009 3:58 am

I realize that it’s easy to attribute stuff like this to us because we have the likes of Mann on our payroll, but UPenn != Penn State.
REPLY: fixed

Expat in France
October 29, 2009 4:11 am

Why on earth is anyone faffing around with a suspected increase in sea level of a millimetre or so? Does anyone really expect sea levels to remain stationary over any given period of time? Why the sudden clutching at straws to try and prove what we already know – the climate is continuing to change, as are the spread of oceans and land masses (as they always have done). I can’t for the life of me understand why so much importance is placed on the infinitesimal span of time in the scheme of things that humans have been around, when the “changes” we may be witnessing are so small and not unexpected, and b*gger all in the context of the life of the earth. Have we ALL lost our marbles?
Suffice it to say, it’s unlikely that we’re all going to 1). drown, 2). fry or 3). freeze in the immediate future (although the latter seems to be the current thinking). The only thing that’s going to kill us or destroy our way of life in the foreseeable future, is governmental meddling in the arrogant (and mistaken) belief that they’re going to change the climate by depriving us of comfort and cash.

October 29, 2009 4:24 am

Anyone hoping for the Gore effect at the Copenhagen conference might be cheered by the winter forecast here:;sess=

October 29, 2009 4:34 am

3 millimeters is equal to 0.1181102 inches. I know that’s twice as long as Al Gore’s winkie, but even if the 3mm rise is true, it ain’t a whole heckuvalot.

October 29, 2009 4:40 am

But what about the midges??

October 29, 2009 4:50 am

Quakers ~= Lions!

Pearland Aggie
October 29, 2009 5:01 am

Warwick Hughes has a post about the accuracy of Australian government sea level figures. Pretty interesting….betcha can’t guess what the trend shows!
How reliable are Australian Govt claims about rising sea levels ?

October 29, 2009 5:13 am

There was much resistance to the theory of plate tectonics when it was first proposed. Now it’s accepted. Taking the theory one step farther, isn’t it reasonable to assume that the Earth’s crust moves in three dimensions?
Tectonic plates are not only moving relative to each other, they must also be moving up and down, like a flat piece of styrofoam bobbing on the waves in the ocean. As one side moves up, the other side moves down. On land, this would imitate changes in sea level.
This ‘study’ obviously got published because it made the obligatory reference to global warming. And it’s too bad the authors didn’t check out John Daly’s tide elevation marker in the Tasman sea. It would have saved them a lot of typing.

October 29, 2009 5:19 am

hmmmm…ground subsidence along coastal areas has been around a long time. Houston (Texas) recognized this decades ago, and attributes part of the subsidence to groundwater pumping – wells for drinking water. The State of Texas created the Houston-Galveston Subsidence District to limit the amount of water withdrawn from wells. That reduced but did not stop the subsidence.

October 29, 2009 5:25 am

Where is the peer review process for anything to do with promoting AGW?

October 29, 2009 5:31 am

The link to Texas Gulf Coast subsidence is very interesting reading – attributing coastal subsidence to tectonic forces that created the Gulf of Mexico when continents drifted apart.
Apparently, the authors do not believe the Gulf of Mexico was created by two large asteroids smacking into the earth, side-by side. (I don’t either, but I’ve read about this theory).

October 29, 2009 5:53 am

Please correct your citation. It’s from Penn – the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Not Penn State. Bad enough that we Penn State alums have to live with the embarrassment of having Michael Mann on the faculty.
[Done, thanx. ~dbs, mod.]

October 29, 2009 5:53 am

Can someone please explain to me how sediment analysis is more accurate than a tidal guage???
It would be nice to have more than 15-16 years of UC data. While that shows the recent short-term is clearly stable, you KNOW “they” are going to say that doesn’t represent what happened for the 20th century.

Rob Vermeulen
October 29, 2009 5:55 am

I’m on my side quite sure the peer-reviewing process went allright. The best attitude one should have here is to actually see how the authors estimated the sea levels, not to go randomly picking some graph on the internet, right? We don’t know much about these time series that are shown here… I mean: how representative of the coast are the two selected examples? Do they include corrections such as inverse barometer corrections? etc, etc.
I would really advise the original poster here to actually read the article in Geology to get things clear. From the abstract, it appears that they are using reconstructions to estimate the sea level rise before the 19th century and after that compare their reconstruction with tide gauges. Alas, I personally don’t have access to the full paper, so can somebody do the rest of the job here?

Leon Brozyna
October 29, 2009 5:56 am

Salt marshes as proxies? Well, with U of Penn joining Penn State in this methodology, perhaps we should add a new nickname for the state of Pennsylvania — the Proxy State.
I suspect that at one time such studies would have been about coastal subsidence, rather than about sea level rise.

Don S.
October 29, 2009 5:57 am

@Gabe. You’re lucky to be alive after sailing around Hatteras. Just kidding, but that area is not known as the “graveyard of the Atlantic” for nothing. Your understanding of the forces at play there is remarkable in one apparently exposed to the conditions for a short time.
The Outer Banks are indeed on the move at all times, generally southward. The inlets along the Banks are certainly not where they were when Sir Walter Raleigh established a colony on Roanoke Island in 1585, and are now kept open by continuous dredging.
An interesting experiment would be to get a phone book covering Mann’s Harbor, Manteo and Wanchese and call any listing for a male named Mann or Gray and ask him about what happens to the bottom topography of the sounds and coastal waters after a three-day Nor’easter. You could also ask him if his property is smaller than when his great grandfather owned it. His family will probably have lived in the area for 300 years and he will have a clue about sea level as well.
It’s possible the boys from Penn just wanted to go to the beach on the taxpayers’ dimes. The largemouth fishing where they drilled in Albemarle Sound is pretty good too.

October 29, 2009 6:05 am

I found a visual record of the peer review process here, hunter:

Mike Monce
October 29, 2009 6:09 am

As one who has spent many very pleasant vacations on the Outer Banks for over 20 years (yikes! an equivalent of 6 cm sea level rise! 🙂 ) , I can attest that the development of the shore line there has been enormous. Where once there were isolated communites, it is now wall-to-wall houses from Corolla to South Nags Head. I really don’t have any idea of how much this would add to land subsidence. What is obvious is how the Banks move. Just look at the reason the Hatteras Light House had to be moved.
My daughters are already clamoring for us to make our reservation for an ocean front house for next year, and I plan on doing so for quite a number of years to come barring a hurricane opening up a new inlet; an event with a much higher probability than a 3 mm/year sea level rise.

October 29, 2009 6:18 am

Most of the coastal areas of the world are sinking. The exception are the areas that are still recovering from the last Ice Age. What does this have to do with Global Warming except we once had an Ice Age, now we don’t? Was the global warming that got us out of the ice age man made too? If not there just may be natural forces at work causing climate change even now. Inquiring minds want to know.

October 29, 2009 6:19 am

My family and i went to the outer banks back in June this year.Now i enjoy history and hearing and reading about the Wright Bro. flight .While there we listend to a speech that the tour guide gave at the Wright Bro. National Memorial ,which if you ever get a chance to go to is very informative.The gentleman had a photo which showed the first flight by powered plane.The tour guide pointed out to the audience that water was once next to where the flights took off.Now living in N C ,all of my life,i’ve heard about how the waters were rising along the outer banks but when we were outside of the National Memorial,which has actual marking of first, second and third flightthat took place on December 17th 1903, i noticed the water is roughly a half mile away which tells me that the waters were higher back then than they are today .

October 29, 2009 6:24 am

As a North Carolina resident, I say “Bull Honkey”!
Look at the layout of the state. It sticks out. Why does it stick out? Look at the Gulf Stream. The Outer Banks, as they are called, is entirely formed by the Gulf Stream. As such, the sands are always shifting. Cape Hatteras lighthouse was moved for this very reason. About 2 month ago, I vacationed on the beach and went to a town called Southport (beautiful town) and took a ferry a place called Fort Fisher, just south of Wilmington. Fort Fisher was the coastal area the Confederate army held during the Civil War. There still exists a sand fort the Confederate army built to withstand Union cannon fire. Once the Confederate army lost Fort Fisher, the war was over. But, due to the shifting sand, the fort is no longer by the ocean.
The dynamics of the North Carolina beach depends on the Gulf Stream, north-easterlies, and hurricanes, of which there are many of the last two. The sand is always rising and falling based on what nature deposits. The last hurricane to hit the Outer Banks broke one of the barrier islands in two. I went to Cape Hatteras in the spring and the state had to close one lane of traffic on highway 12 because the other lane was covered in sand. The sand and ocean in this area is very dynamic.
Only a person who has never been there can make such a study. How many trips to this area did those who did this study make? And for how many years? Since they are an “international” team, I bet, at most, one trip and most likely no trips. They probably just punched some numbers into their model and didn’t even think about WHY the Outer Banks have the shape it has. This study makes me think these guys are book smart but real-world dumb. There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom; they have knowledge but not wisdom.

October 29, 2009 6:34 am

Damn good sleuth work, Anthony.
rcrejects (01:24:51) :
“And do we know what is happening with local subsidence?
In Australia, the sites showing greatest sea level rise are those where it is known that subsidence has occurred. eg Newcastle, Adelaide and Fremantle.
Of course, one could ask whether CSIRO (the providers of the data) and the MSM report this. You can guess the answer.”

Roger Sowell (05:19:33) :
hmmmm…ground subsidence along coastal areas has been around a long time.

Jimmy Haigh (02:32:42) :
There are many factors governing sea level. Some not mentioned here include rate of subsidence and coastal erosion or redeposition. From a quick look at the geography of the Carolinas it is clear that there is a lot of coastal erosion/ redeposition going on and as such it is hardly the best place to figure out what global sea level is doing.

Bingo, bingo, and bingo!
And if perchance you hear a sister report coming out of the “accelerating” rises across the rather heavily populated Chesapeake Bay, just to this region’s north, what you will NOT hear is a special type of subsidence there.
You see, it sits atop one of the largest impact craters in the world, 50 miles across and over a mile deep, from an asteroid impact 35 million years ago.
A little bit of subsidence here and there on the squishy, silty coastal plain.
Oh, but asteroids are not funded, so they must not exist.
Norfolk, VA, USA

October 29, 2009 6:39 am

The disingenuousness of the [University of Pennsylvania] press release about this study is truly mind boggling.
The headline says, “North Carolina Sea Levels Rising Three Times Faster Than in Previous 500 Years, Penn Study Says.” An assertion that is false because the satellite altimetry data show that sea level has not been rising in the area of the study since at least 1994.
Well, the main body of the press release actually says that the research found, “20th-century sea-level rise to be three times higher than the rate of sea-level rise during the last 500 years.” Well… Duhhh! Sea level wasn’t rising at all for most of the 500 years before the 20th century because most of those 500 years were in the Little Ice Age…
Sea Level Since 1700
Then the article says that the “jump appears to occur between 1879 and 1915.” Which is exactly the period in which sea level started to rise at the end of The Little Ice Age. If we zoom in on the 20th century, we can clearly see that global sea level did rise about three times as fast after 1915 as it did before 1915…
Sea Level Since 1900

October 29, 2009 6:40 am

Smokey (05:13:19) :
isn’t it reasonable to assume that the Earth’s crust moves in three dimensions?
Exactly! As one living high in the Rocky Mountain uplift, it’s hard to lose sight of that fact. It’s interesting to know that the original Rocky Mountains were completely washed and scraped away eons ago, and another range built up and eaten half away into the sea. Just drove by the Grand Canyon and up to the continental divide. Throw in some underwater volcanoes, megatons of desert dust blown in, and vast quantities of silt carried out to sea from rivers. And subsidence never stops.
And some politician actually promised to lower the seal levels!

October 29, 2009 6:43 am

In addition, this jump appears to occur between 1879 and 1915, a time of industrial change that may provide a direct link to human-induced climate change.
Besides this statement being about the most elementary, nonsensical, and ridiculous that should ever come out of a technical journal, OF COURSE they make no mention that this time period is LIA recovery time period as well.
And yes, coming from Penn State, you might expect it to have a little fraudulent tone to it as its staff features one of the charlatan professor/wizards…the beloved Michael Mann.
I am starting to feel sorry for these researchers…as they are caught between the charlatan/wizards on the one hand, and their sources of funding (who are also charlatans, that grab them by the balls and threaten “You will reach Conclusion X or your funding will dry up.”
Norfolk, VA, USA

October 29, 2009 6:47 am

My guess: the North Carolina data specified: “relative sea-level rise, or RSLR”
Satellite data: usually absolute level of sea level rise.
eg, you are probably comparing apples and oranges here.

October 29, 2009 6:56 am

Wouldn’t the Coast Guard Station at Elizabeth City have accurate information concerning sea levels in the Albemarel Sound? I spent a lot of time there in the late 80’s and 90’s.

October 29, 2009 7:07 am

How much of this is due to isostatic rebound? When glaciers covered much of north america several thousand years ago, the land under the ice was forced down, resulting in the southern states (even as far as the Caribbean) being lifted. Once the ice retreated, the land in the north began to rise, and south began to fall. This process continues today.

Steven Kopits
October 29, 2009 7:08 am

Billingsgate, an inhabited island in Wellfleet Harbor in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, did indeed sink and was abandoned during the late 19th and early 20th century and is now only visible at low tide. To attribute this to CO2 would be something of a stretch.
I have regularly visited Wellfleet Harbor for the last 33 years, and I cannot say that there has been any appreciable rise in the water level, leaving aside the 13.5 ft twice daily tidal swings.
On the other hand, on the Atlantic side, nature can be quite aggressive. A bad Nor’easter can take off 50 ft of beach overnight, which it did this summer.

October 29, 2009 7:10 am

The link below the picture incorrectly reads, “First the Press Release from Penn State:”
The press release is from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn);
a completely different entity from Penn State:
The link should read, “First the Press Release from UPenn:”
REPLY: Yes thanks, my mistake, and fixed now thank you – A

October 29, 2009 7:25 am

It’s -15 Celsius outside in South Colorado! This would me more or less normal in winter but in October… Yeah, I know, it’s just weather.
I wanted to say something for a long time here, and I think I’m going to say it now.
Debunking the UN “casino science” from a purely scientific point of view is important. However, no scientific argument or data are going to bring down the Green Power Machine — I hope it’s obvious. Self-important bickering and juggling the numbers a la Leif Svalgaard will go unnoticed in power circles.
What can bring it down is laughter. I remember, what brought down the Soviet Union. Revealing the inconvenient truth about its bloody lies and crimes was important but no serious books or speeches were able to punch a hole in Soviet mental defenses. Beatles and jeans did it. And laughter: disdainful laughter.

October 29, 2009 7:39 am

wws – I seldom LOL, but your monkeys had me doing it

Gene Nemetz
October 29, 2009 7:46 am

PSU-EMS-Alum (03:58:38) :
Too bad about the loss to Iowa. I had hoped better for Joe-pa this year!

Fang, the Barkeep
October 29, 2009 7:49 am

When one publishs one’s results in the journal Geology, does one actually have to show these results to someone? I’m not being snarky – I just find it wild that a journal would let one just publish a claim that seems to be contradicted by available evidence without providing some evidence of one’s own that people could actually evaluate.

Gene Nemetz
October 29, 2009 7:50 am

Bull (04:34:35) :
3 millimeters is equal to 0.1181102 inches….ain’t a whole heckuvalot.
But enough to speculate the the sky ‘may’ be falling.

Håkan B
October 29, 2009 7:50 am

Cassandra King (01:51:21)
All of southern England is sinking, Scotland is rising as is Scandinavia, that’s all because of the last iceage, but such old knowledge is probably too obvious for BBC.

October 29, 2009 7:52 am

So the study shows fingerprints of the Manniac school of data abuse.
Not suprising at all.
REPLY: No, I accidentally put in Penn State instead of University of Pennsylvania at one point in the story. My mistake. No connection – Anthony

anna v
October 29, 2009 7:53 am

OT I am keeping an eye on the science museum poll and it seems that the warmers are wary of giving their true name and e-mail to the museum
The nay sayers are merilly adding a count a minute or so, and the yeas are about 1/8 of that rate. Or have we reached a tipping point? Educated people becoming aware that the wind has changed?

Gene Nemetz
October 29, 2009 8:10 am

tokyoboy (01:10:13) :
rbateman (02:06:50) :
Jimmy Haigh (02:32:42) :
Dave Wendt (02:46:59) :
Caleb (03:04:54) :
John A (03:35:20) :
Expat in France (04:11:00) :
Smokey (05:13:19) :
Roger Sowell (05:19:33) :
Leon Brozyna (05:56:46) :
Don S. (05:57:50) :
Mike Monce (06:09:50) :
Lennart Bilén (06:18:21)
Wade (06:24:41) :
savethesharks (06:34:30) :
WakeUpMaggy (06:40:43
Curious (07:07:19)
The list, so far, of those who think the land and not the water has more to do with the sea level there than manmade co2.
Oh ya, my name too.
If studies from many locations of the Atlantic Coast from the northern tip of Canada to the southern tip of Florida had been done then this study of a minuscule location of the Atlantic Coast could be put in better perspective.

John F. Hultquist
October 29, 2009 8:13 am

So many questions. Such great precision. But still, things are bad, getting worse, and there is an “a direct link to human-induced climate change” because of that great “time of industrial change” – 1879-1915.
While the sea level rise is measured in mm (repeat: mm) the mid-Atlantic Ridge has a spreading rate measured in cm (that’s cm). Does the ridge grow in volume even as the basin widens? If not, does the seawater have a larger basin to fill and, thus, the level should drop? Meanwhile, the sand, silt, and clay continues to wash into the basin – – and the water level should rise.
For Ref:
“spreading rate in the range of 2.6 to 3.2 centimeters per year near the axis of the ridge”; and “Additional data for a basalt collected 62 kilometers west of the axis gives a spreading rate of 0.8 centimeter per year,”
Potassium-Argon Ages and Spreading Rates on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 45° North (Science 27 September 1968)

Stephen Skinner
October 29, 2009 8:25 am

This representation of sea level over the last 20,000 years is of interest:
It would appear that the sea has been rising for the last 8000 years anyway, at much the same rate as the last 500 years. However, that statement is a little perverse if that rise is compared to what the sea was doing between 20K and 8K years ago, in which case sea level rise has been negligible.

Andrew Parker
October 29, 2009 8:31 am

I am no expert so I will pose a question. Are not the layers of organic deposits subject to oxidation? Would this oxidation vary dependent on the levels of oxygen in the water at any given time?

John Phillips
October 29, 2009 8:41 am

Wade said “The dynamics of the North Carolina beach depends on the Gulf Stream, north-easterlies, and hurricanes, of which there are many of the last two. The sand is always rising and falling based on what nature deposits.”
In addition, rock jettys were constructed along the Carolina shores, perhaps in 1870-1915 time period, to protect major harbor entrances. These jettys cut off natural sand flows. Beach erosion occurs near these jettys downstream of the prevailing coastal currents. This is why Folly Beach, south of the Charleston Harbor is eroding.

October 29, 2009 8:45 am

This is such a completely bogus study because if winds in the more recent period were more often from the NE or were generally stronger when they blew from the NE, then the tide gauges would read higher values even though the sea didn’t really rise. Long term weather changes such as changes in the average strength or location of the Bermuda High would be enough to provide the impact observed in this study.

Paul Hildebrandt
October 29, 2009 8:47 am

Smokey (05:13:19) :
…isn’t it reasonable to assume that the Earth’s crust moves in three dimensions?
Very good, as an example, I give you the Himalayas.

October 29, 2009 8:49 am

Well that’s it then…. I guess I’ll just have to leave my seaside home and head for the hills!
Set the flamingos FREEEEE!

October 29, 2009 8:49 am

Ah it looks like they have resurrected an early error of Oceanographers. Last century oceanographers assumed that land levels never changed so used the land to measure ocean level changes and geologists assumed that sea level never changed so used sea level as a guide to measure land elevation changes.
It appears these enterprising scientists have have made the great assumptions that land level never changes and so can be used to reliably gauge sea level changes. Thus resurrecting an major error of science a century ago that was fixed when oceanographers finally compared assumptions with geologists.

John Phillips
October 29, 2009 8:49 am

Sorry, typo – jettys = jetties. Also, The Charleston Harbor jetties were completed in 1898.

October 29, 2009 8:59 am

“The research team studied two North Carolina salt marshes that form continuous accumulations of organic sediment, a natural archive that provides scientists with an accurate way to reconstruct relative sea levels using radiometric isotopes and stratigraphic age markers.”
I’m curious, what exactly does this mean in relation to a region exposed yearly to the Atlantic hurricane season?

October 29, 2009 9:04 am

Kaboom says: International franchises for KaboomCover are now available!
There must be a gravy train that we can get on………..

October 29, 2009 9:09 am

I love seeing them cherry pick one location and conclude “sea level rose here for some reason, therefore global warming”.
I can do that too, look: Earlier onset of Santa Anna Winds this year, therefore, Patrick Swayze’s Pancreatic Cancer…

George E. Smith
October 29, 2009 9:21 am

Well even with my lousy eyes, I can see that first black low res graph if it tilts any way, it tilts downward. and if it was rising 3 mm per year, which is at the low limit of their 3-3.3 range it would go 54 mm in the 18 years of that graph.
But any student who would present me with that data and claim it represents a straight line with a 3 mm per year upward slope; or for that matter say it represents anything other than noise; would get a failing grade.
So in 1998; the hottest year in the history of planet earth, and the ocean decides to expand in the negative direction; Yeah. Well in SFO right now we have a useless bridge I could sell you at a good price. I’d be happy to sell it because personally, I would never visit either end of that bridge. A Baghdad to Kabul bridge would be a lot safer.

Gene Zeien
October 29, 2009 9:21 am

There was an impressive string of category 3 & 4 hurricanes 1883 – 1899. Cat3 – 1883, 1885, 1887, 1893(2x), 1896 Cat4 – 1899

October 29, 2009 9:27 am

Cassandra King says: ‘The ever alarmist BBC has just……’
Situation normal, Cassandra. For 3 years now I have been writing directly to BBC Director General Mark Thompson about their outrageous bias reporting climate change. I have received responses from BBC Propaganda (or Information Dept as they prefer to call it) but nothing from Thompson.
However he did respond to my MP and attached a document which contains the following statement: ‘The BBC Governors and BBC Management jointly commissioned a report, “From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel-Safeguarding Impartiality in the 21st Century”, published in June 2007……’
This report concluded: ‘There may be now a broad scientific consensus that climate change is definitely happening and that it is at least predominantly man-made… the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus’.
So there you have it, for at least the last 2 years if you don’t sing from the BBC song sheet, you don’t sing at all!
I am continuing my efforts, through my MP to get an answer from Thompson (& the BBC Trust Chairman, Sir Michaels Lyons) to the question ‘On whose authority did the BBC cease to be an impartial Public Service Broadcaster, as required by its Charter, and become the judge, jury and sponsor of such dangerously specious political dogma so eloquently described as ‘…the consensus…’?
If you would like to write to Thompson, the address is: Mark Thompson Esq
Director General
BBC Broadcasting House
Portland Place
Good luck!

Richard M
October 29, 2009 9:31 am

This is the kind of science you get when you throw a lot of money at a poorly understood (non) problem. Infant sciences make lots of mistakes.

October 29, 2009 9:33 am

Bull (04:34:35) :
3 millimeters is equal to 0.1181102 inches. I know that’s twice as long as Al Gore’s winkie, but even if the 3mm rise is true, it ain’t a whole heckuvalot.

I haven’t LOLed on this site in a long time, but this broke the ice, thank you!
That’s another thing: AGW believers have no sense of humor.

Roger Knights
October 29, 2009 9:48 am

Here’s what Wikipedia’s initial paragraphs say about Michael Mann. He seems to be a real “player” in the world of bureaucratic / back-scratching / Establishment captial-S “Science.” (Curiously, one of the Google search hits for the Wikipedia article described him as “an American hockey stick manufacturer.”)
“Michael E. Mann (born 28 December 1965) is an American climatologist, and author of more than 80 peer-reviewed journal publications. He has attained public prominence as lead author of a number of articles on paleoclimate and as one of the originators of a graph of temperature trends dubbed the “hockey stick graph” for the shape of the graph. The graph received both praise and criticism after its publication in an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. In August 2005 he was appointed Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University, in the Department of Meteorology and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, and Director of the university’s interdepartmental Earth System Science Center. He previously taught at the University of Virginia, in the Department of Environmental Sciences (1999 – 2005).
“He was a Lead Author on the “Observed Climate Variability and Change” chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report (2001). He has been organizing committee chair for the National Academy of Sciences ‘Frontiers of Science’ and has served as a committee member or advisor for other National Academy of Sciences panels. He served as editor for the Journal of Climate and has been a member of numerous international and U.S. scientific advisory panels and steering groups. Dr. Mann has been the recipient of several fellowships and prizes, including selection as one of the 50 leading visionaries in Science and Technology by Scientific American, the outstanding scientific publication award of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and recognition by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) for notable citation of his refereed scientific research. Mann is one of several climate scientists who contribute to the RealClimate blog.
“He is best known for his paleoclimate ‘hockey stick’ reconstructions of the past several millennia from tree ring, ice core, coral and other data. See temperature record of the past 1000 years for more details and dispute. Mann’s recent work has been on modelling El Niño, and he has said that “we are already committed to 50 to 100 years of global warming and several centuries of sea level rise” and that reduction in fossil fuel emissions is required to slow the process down to a level that can be coped with.

DD More
October 29, 2009 10:15 am

From the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway website.
Historical Time Line: Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal
Late) 1870’s First suggestions made that the federal government take over the canal, make improvements and provide an inland waterway.
Climate change or a bunch of government workers digging?

October 29, 2009 10:29 am

This thread has, as ever, been very fruitful – I haven’t gone deeply into the sea-level nonsense, other than to urge people to look at the years since the global temperature flat-lined and note that so did sea-level. If the temperature rise can be shown to be predominantly natural – which it can (peaking ocean cycles and recovery from the LIA), then the detail did not matter.
However, as several commentators point out – we are not dealing with a rational situation – rather a quasi-religious/political movement the likes of which the planet has not seen (is this the first global emperor with new clothes?). The situation in the UK and Europe can be more readily understood by the other era-defining phenomenon which is Tony Blair. He perfected the technique of repeating something over and over again despite any evidence that it was not true – in his case, ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq. He was caught out and the now infamous ‘dodgy dossier’ of evidence laid bare such that it is clear he knowingly lied. There are patriotic parents of soldiers who died in that war who will not shake his hand – even at a state function in a cathedral.
Yet, this man is being widely supported as the new President of the European Union (with some opposition, thankfully, for the above reasons).
The IPCC mantra of ‘settled science’, and the media hype of accelerated warming, Arctic melt-down and rising sea levels, are impervious to reason. The consequences of this incredible state of affairs are obvious daily: Borneo to be turned into biofuel, the Tana River wilderness in Kenya into ethanol, huge new pylons through the last Scottish wilderness to connect up all the giant wind turbines….and six new nuclear power stations in the UK to be given the go-ahead.
Climate Change is a political banner – and those rallying to its cause all expect some benefit but are in denial that they gain anything (subscriptions, circulation, sales, kudos, research funds) and of course BELIEVE they are saving the planet. I am very much afraid that rational discourse will have very limited effect – unless, that is, the globe seriously cools.

October 29, 2009 10:29 am

Yes but even if this study was correct that would be 2mm/year over 500 years. Or 0.004mm/year. So in 100 years the sea would rise 34 cm instead of 30 cm. I guess some one could get excited about that difference. And of course you should always use proxies instead of actual measurement in climate science

October 29, 2009 10:30 am

The ever alarmist BBC has just issued a warning that the coastline of Wales in the UK will have to be evacuated and abandoned due to rising sea levels due to climate change

Most of the Welsh coastline is composed of sudden drops from 100+ ft elevation down to the water. It’s really rather cliffy. Cardiff, Newport and Swansea are fairly low in elevation, but they’re hardly sea-level cities.

Kevin Kilty
October 29, 2009 10:42 am

Have a close look at the rivers in that photo and you’ll notice that each and every one is “drowned.” Sea level has been rising, or rather land has been subsiding, in this area for a very long time.
Sea level changes because of changes in temperature profile, changes in the balance between inputs (rivers, groundwater, melting ice, precip) and outputs (evaporation), dynamic effects such as ocean currents, and salinity profile changes. Easy to point the finger at AWG–difficult to prove.

Gene Nemetz
October 29, 2009 10:58 am

anna v (07:53:07) :
Online polls can’t be trusted anyway.

October 29, 2009 11:02 am

I have been looking for a place to retire. Can we get this UPenn report more press coverage, so I can get seaside property real cheap.

October 29, 2009 11:07 am

Don’t worry about it! My wife did a cannonball a couple months ago off of our cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean. At least I think we were in the Atlantic. Anyways she jumped in and water levels rise across the country. No worries smart people!

Mike McMillan
October 29, 2009 11:08 am

…and suggests that salt-marsh records with decadal and decimeter resolution can supplement tide-gauge records
A decimeter being about 4 inches, how does this help refine millimeter-scale rates ?

Kevin Kilty
October 29, 2009 11:10 am

I forgot to mention the factor that produces very, very long-term sea level changes. Changes so long in time scale that they look exactly like a linear rise or fall in sea level at any time. Sea floor spreading.
Sea floor spreading produces a very flat-bottomed ocean basin when the spreading rate is slow, and a sloped bottom when the rate is fast. A flat-bottomed sea has much more room for seawater than does a sloped bottom, and, thus, draws the sea shore away from land.

October 29, 2009 11:13 am

I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but … I did pay attention in school. Seems to me that if I pour water into a pond, the depth of the pond increases equally across the pond, and not in one location. If I pour water into the pond and it “appears” that the depth has increased in one location, then I would assume that something else is afoot.

October 29, 2009 11:13 am

To me, this is just as dead-obvious as it gets: tide gauges don’t register sea level; they instead register sea level relative to the bottom to which the tide guage is fastened. How anyone of any intelligence or inquisitiveness at all can confuse relative sea level with absolute sea level is just bewildering.
I know: absolute sea level has not been available by direct measurement for all that long. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that fact, though.
How to pick millimeters of sea level change out from the noisy hash of other factors (daily solar and lunar tides, the the variation of those tides between periapsis and apoapsis, etc) with any confidence at all is another matter. I think the author’s linear curve fit probably would be more informative with error bars, but that would involve some more work. I doubt you could actually tell within a couple of millimeters per year what the sea-level change is.
And I’d bet you the answer would change if you linear-fitted between the final date sea level and the indentical DOY in the initial year.

October 29, 2009 11:14 am

“gauge”, not “guage”
I hate it when I do that.

October 29, 2009 11:42 am

So during the cold little ice age there was a reduced rise rate of 1mm/yr, as the sea returned to equilibrium the rate accelerated to 3mm/yr (due to thermal expansion), since the 90s its slowed / stopped. This tells us only 1 thing new, the warming trend must have stopped some years ago in this part of the sea.
Because sea level rise increased, doesnt in any way relate to or prove human co2 emissions had an impact unless you could first rule out all natural variation which climate models cannot do.

October 29, 2009 11:59 am

A good day for humour… Loco, thanks for the “Minnesotans for Global Warming” song link. The way they set their “If We Had Some Global Warming” to the tune of Bare Naked Ladies’ PC “If I Had a Million Dollars” was particularly exquisite. This would be a good theme song for this website! LOL!

Frank Kotler
October 29, 2009 12:04 pm

This article:
discusses the “two foot rise” in sea level on the East Coast that Crosspatch mentions in the first comment. I discussed this with a couple of sailor friends (one a boatbuilder) from the Boston area. They say it simply didn’t happen – they would have noticed.
Maybe some other part of the East Coast? I’d write it off as the usual “they’ll say anything” from the warmingists, but they specifically say it’s not AGW (“unprecedented”!!!).
Apparently measuring sea level isn’t as simple as it sounds.
OTOH, rising “seal level” will cause obesity in Polar Bears, models show. Something must be done! 🙂

October 29, 2009 12:32 pm

Or, perhaps, to paraphrase the Great Communicator, “A rising number of boats lifts all tides”….

October 29, 2009 12:39 pm

glacial rebound goes both ways. While the Laurentide Ice Sheet was depressing the northern half of north america, it was tilting the whole continent, causing a large drop in sea level in the southern half. While arctic canada sea levels are dropping due to rebound raising the bedrock up again, southern US sea levels would be rising long term for the same reason but in the opposite direction. The “normal” rate should be about 1- 1.5 mm a year due to rebound anyways. A rise to 3 mm a year should be due to the glacial losses of the late 19th and early 20th century as we exited the LIA, releasing the ice weight that was slowing rebound during the LIA.

October 29, 2009 1:34 pm

I have a request. Does anyone have a link to sea surface temperatures, since 1994, in the Gulf of Mexico just offshore Louisiana?
I have a plot of the Topex/Jason-1 satellite sea level from U. Colorado for that area, and it definitely shows a seasonal change in level – lower in winter, higher in summer. The difference, on average, is about 25 cm (roughly 10 inches).
Thanks in advance.

October 29, 2009 1:37 pm

The marshes can cope I hope.
“Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide is largely responsible for recent global warming and the rise in sea levels. However, a team of scientists, including two Smithsonian ecologists, have found that this same increase in CO2 may ironically counterbalance some of its negative effects on one of the planet’s most valuable ecosystems—wetlands.
“The team conducted their study for two years (2006 – 2007), during which they focused on the role that organic matter, both growing and decaying, plays on soil elevation in wetlands and the effect CO2 has on this process.”
“Our findings show that elevated CO2 stimulates plant productivity, particularly below ground, thereby boosting marsh surface elevation,” said Adam Langley, the paper’s lead author. Patrick Megonigal, the paper’s corresponding author, added “We found that by stimulating root growth, thus raising a marsh’s soil elevation, elevated CO2 may also increase the capacity for coastal wetlands to tolerate relative rises in sea level.”

October 29, 2009 1:57 pm

I was always taught that water found its own level. Isn’t sea level, sea level? Isn’t this a world wide measurement. As the article says you get local highs/lows, here in Melbourne, Australia the sea level outside Port Phillip bay is higher outside than inside because the tide cant get through the narrow opening quick enough. So shouldn’t sea level be a global measurement?

October 29, 2009 2:53 pm

That was my point in my post about pouring water into a pond. If I pour water into a pond, the pond gets deeper, evenly across the pond and not in one location. To say that the sea level is rising/falling at a faster rate along some section of coast, and not globally at the same rate indicates that something is amiss.

October 29, 2009 2:57 pm

So CO2 also travels back in time, to the 19th century, and accelerates sea level increases before there was enough CO2 to otherwise do it.
What an amazing gas CO2 is.
The study could have been done for probably 50% of the actual grant costs- since the ‘researchers’ already knew the answer before they started the study.
Think of how much money can be saved on ‘research’ if the results are known prior to those troublesome and tedious research projects.

October 29, 2009 3:09 pm

RE: And do we know what is happening with local subsidence?
Well, the entire Atlantic and Gulf coast of the US is a passive margin, so, from a plate tectonics point of view, slow subsidence would be expected.

October 29, 2009 3:09 pm

ehh, Greenland melting? How much? When did it start? Most people have seen this before.
“July 15, 1992, fifty years to the day later, 74-year-old Brad McManus stood on the ice cap surrounded by the recovered pieces of his late friend Harry Smith’s P-38…
How do you get a P-38 out of the ice? Simple…melt the ice! Well, maybe not as simple as that, seeing how it was 268 feet of ice.”
So in the 50 years from 42 to 92 that part of the Greenland Ice cap gained 260 odd feet in depth, I wonder what a return visit 18 years later to the same site would find? Probably only take a small seismic or ultrasound unit to get a physical picture of the previous excavation site, including current depth to any remaining bits and pieces. My money is on them being deeper than the 268 feet they were in 92.
Would not be science of course, more like a stunt, but visually it would get across to a large audience.

October 29, 2009 3:45 pm

Pearl and Angie – thanks for direction to Warwick Hughes post giving Aust Gov measurements of actual sea level rise and fall in Australian and South Pacific.
Opposition MP Tony Abbott struck back with “Sea levels had risen along the NSW coast by more than 20 centimetres during the past century. Has anyone noticed it? No, they haven’t,” he told reporters in Canberra today.,,26268796-5019301,00.html
Where does he get the 20 cm from? Would it be that the BoM chart (see Hughes for 20 yrs only) shows fluctuations (but no trend) plus/minus 20cm?
But how extraordinary that such a powerful (and perhaps erroneous) anti-Alarmist statement is not checked or countered in/by MSM.
I guess it is that if we start arguing on actual data then Alarmism is bound to lose. Perhaps it’s like if the recent pause in catastrophic global warming were blamed on a quiet sun dampening the CO2 effect…As others have observer: more and more the imperative to avoid discussion of the facts. Dare I say that this is one of the signs of peaking of an apocalyptic movement. A December blizzard off the North Sea would certainly help define such a peak. We can only pray.

Tim Cullen MalagaView
October 29, 2009 3:57 pm

Loco (08:49:00) :
Set the flamingos FREEEEE!

Tim Cullen MalagaView
October 29, 2009 4:19 pm

Cassandra King (01:51:21) :
The ever alarmist BBC has just issued a warning that the coastline of Wales in the UK will have to be evacuated and abandoned

So Global Warming does have some benefits after all! 🙂

October 29, 2009 5:53 pm

It’s been mentioned above but subsidence and particularly the interplay of the subsidence and sedimentation rates are key in this environment. Looking at the greater Mississippi delta area of LA and the changes in ecology (ie fresh to brackish to salt) one would easily conclude it was due to a sea level rise. It is in fact due to lack of cyclical sediment input because the natural process of repeated flooding from main channel break-outs during floods (channel switching or avulsion) are mitigated due to the efforts of the Corps of Engineers and its wish to control flooding and maintain a shipping channel . I’m suggesting that any modification of historical sediment influx due to development (as simple as percent area in pavement, farms, roads, diversion of waterways etc) would probably be bigger than any ongoing, background, natural changes.

October 29, 2009 8:05 pm

So, sea level has been rising for 500 years, and….the coast has been inundated and people had to move inland, as per the dire warnings of Mr. Gore et al! Wait… no, the coast has actually marched outward and added land area onto which people move their fancy “cottages” to wait for the next hurricane! This is a fact that is obvious to any Geology undergrad with half a wit. Shorelines along subsiding continental margins (ie: SE and SW coastal and Gulf of Mexico, USA) are most commonly accretive, ie they accumulate sediment at a rate higher than the rate of subsidence. Eroding shorelines are commonly found along emergent margins, where the wave base cuts into the existing sediment (ie: SE coast of the South Island New Zealand, NW coastal USA).
The reality of shoreline inundation is a balance of sediment supply, energy and accomodation space (subsidence or sea-level rise). The only simple thing about it is the argument proposed by Mr. Gore regarding cause (AGW) and dire consequences.
Roger Dueck, P.Geol.

October 29, 2009 9:06 pm

All this nonsense about preserving the earth as we know it in our tiny fraction of time on earth must have to do with a growing transhumanism. We must believe, like Ray Kurzweil, whether we know it or not, that if we can just stay healthy long enough, we will never die. Technology will solve it.
Most of the rabid eco/green/planet worshipping/maniacs don’t even have children, much less grand children. They have never held a dying parent in their arms. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

October 29, 2009 9:32 pm

“Understanding the timing and magnitude of this possible acceleration in the rate of RSLR is critical for …” Hysteria and Copenhagen.

October 29, 2009 9:36 pm

Perhaps someone who knows more about this will explain this to me, but it seems that regardless of what the rate is, it is well within the possible values for the effect of isostatic rebound (previously glaciated crust “rebounds” upwards and adjacent non-glaciated areas are levered down). When you combine that with the uncertainty due consolidation of sediments (surely they’ve heard of that) how do these guys propose to attribute anything to warming.
Scroll down to the 3 figures of the globe showing rates at different scales and the uncertainty in blue and red.

p.g.sharrow "PG"
October 29, 2009 9:53 pm

It appears that salt marsh sedimentation is a good proxi for local water depth average and nothing else. Qualification for AGW dedicated grant funding may be the “facts” that the study was looking for.
Any geologist can look at the area map and see it is a subsidence area, the only question is how fast.
It must be horrorable to have an expensive Degree and no real job expectations.
I’m glad the world always need ditch diggers.

October 29, 2009 9:57 pm

Well, excuse me. I’ve scrolled up and see others have brought up isostatic rebound and consolidation of sediments. I hope at least that the link adds to the discussion.
I would also like to relay an anecdote about coastal Alabama. In the summer of ’08 storms exposed an old shipwreck on the Fort Morgan Peninsula. Like many other curious folk I went down to see it and saw something that was far more interesting to me.
In the water near the beached wreck were numerous tree stumps, intact with roots, under about a foot of seawater. The area has been beach since the earliest Europeans arrived in the area so there is no way that this inundation could be due to AGW related rising sea levels.
According to my geology professor in college the local crust is actually being levered upward due to the load of Mississippi sediments taking the Miss. Delta down. If this is true then the ongoing rise of sealevel or consolidation of sediments is pretty dadgum large.

October 29, 2009 10:08 pm

I also wonder if the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater could be having some small effect.
Quote: “Even the courses of the modern rivers in the lower bay region point to the continued influence of differential subsidence over the crater. Most of the rivers, like the Rappahannock, flow southeastward to the Atlantic. But in contrast, the York and James Rivers make sharp turns to the northeast near the outer rim of the crater. We infer that the topographic depression over the crater has been maintained recently enough to have been a significant determinant of the modern courses of these rivers. This continued subsidence also may play a role in the high rate of relative sea-level rise that is well-documented for the Chesapeake Bay region. One of the locations of highest relative sea-level rise is at Hampton Roads (the lower part of the James River), located over the crater rim.”

p.g.sharrow "PG"
October 29, 2009 10:10 pm

OH! by the way, I’ve dug miles of ditches. People with worthless degrees become forklift operators. 🙂
p.g. sharrow n.d.d.

Gregg E.
October 29, 2009 11:58 pm

“Tide gauge records are largely inadequate…” So instead of actual measurements they’re going with “Accurate estimates…” Isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron? How do they get this millimeter precision from swamp mud with “…decimeter resolution…”? A decimeter is 100 millimeters. Did they do any accounting for the fact that as erosion from higher land piles sediments onto river deltas and coastal marshes, those areas subside, sluffing and sloughing and generally sinking and sliding… *smacks self for the silly alliteration*
But seriously (*smack* stoppit!) “Did they check the lake for DDT?” to quote Dr. Roy Spencer. That seems to be his catch phrase shorthand (again with the s-words…) for “Did the researchers consider the factors that should be bleedin’ obvious?”.
When examining a mucky coastal zone to look for evidence of sea level change, the researchers should consult geologists with knowledge of the area. If nobody has studied the research area to determine how much or even if there’s subsidence, then that research needs to be done along with the sea level investigation.
P.S. There’s been no reduction in tropical storms in Idaho, ever. 😉

October 30, 2009 12:36 am

Well, I was curious about long term data, so I went to NOAA’s tides and currents site. The most complete gauge record from North Carolina is Wilmington. Here is what it shows:
In case you are curious (I was) NONE of the records show a rate of 3 mm a year!!!

October 30, 2009 2:34 am

Or exaggerating co2’s effects by 2000%…
“”In addition, this jump appears to occur between 1879 and 1915, a time of industrial change that may provide a direct link to human-induced climate change.””

October 30, 2009 6:32 am

Oh, I almost forgot.
Not only are there solar and lunar sea tides, but there are also solar and lunar land tides. The moon in particular stretches out the Earth like an egg, to the tune of several inches each day.
These may or may not be in phase with the sea tides, depending on whether the sea tides are affected by resonance.
But I am only an egg, so to speak, in these matters.

Michael Maxwell
October 31, 2009 7:56 am

Didn’t the East Coast sink from the accumulated weight of National Geographics?

Edward B. Boyle
October 31, 2009 9:38 am

Anthony, You have just proven that the coast of North Carolina is settling at the rate of 2mm. per year. Simple arithmetic. Standing in the mud the collegiate people measured that the water appeared to go up 3 mm, and Colorado shows that it is really going up 1 mm. Ergo, the land is settling.
The geologists have been claiming for many decades that the land around the Chesapeake Bay is settling a small anmount each year, and apparently the same is true of Pamlico Sound area. Much more believable than any other conclusioin.

October 31, 2009 4:36 pm

A little OT although still on sea-level
I noticed this post on climate sanity:
The suggestion is that sea level rise rate gives a sneak preview of temperature change (but from a correlation from only 10 years data). And that global temps may head south for the next few months.

November 1, 2009 10:44 am

Chesapeak Bay subsidence is probably at least partially due to something different.

November 3, 2009 2:32 pm

It’s the same group of people who refuse to admit that Global Warming is caused mostly by humans who also fight to deny all people health care, education and clean water. Creeps!

November 3, 2009 3:22 pm

Kliff215 (14:32:01) :
“It’s the same group of people who refuse to admit that Global Warming is caused mostly by humans who also fight to deny all people health care, education and clean water. Creeps!”
All I can say to that green left-wing clap-trap is… BOLIDES

December 4, 2009 11:32 am

Sea Level scare tactics are the lies of government worshiping lefties, who falsely believe a world without winners, losers, liberty, and private property will be a better place. Stop the confiscation, the lefties are incurably stupid. This is war, and if we lose, our descendants will have rotted teeth, no property, and no hospitals, just like the Soviet Union.

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