2009 paper confirming IPCC sea level conclusions withdrawn, mistakes cited

From the Guardian, finally some refreshing honesty in Science:

Climate scientists withdraw journal claims of rising sea levels

Study claimed in 2009 that sea levels would rise by up to 82cm by the end of century – but the report’s author now says true estimate is still unknown

sea level

The Maldives – poster child for bad science Photograph: Reuters

Scientists have been forced to withdraw a study on projected sea level rise due to global warming after finding mistakes that undermined the findings.

The study, published in 2009 in Nature Geoscience, one of the top journals in its field, confirmed the conclusions of the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It used data over the last 22,000 years to predict that sea level would rise by between 7cm and 82cm by the end of the century.

At the time, Mark Siddall, from the Earth Sciences Department at the University of Bristol, said the study “strengthens the confidence with which one may interpret the IPCC results“. The IPCC said that sea level would probably rise by 18cm-59cm by 2100, though stressed this was based on incomplete information about ice sheet melting and that the true rise could be higher.

Many scientists criticised the IPCC approach as too conservative, and several papers since have suggested that sea level could rise more. Martin Vermeer of the Helsinki University of Technology, Finland and Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany published a study in December that projected a rise of 0.75m to 1.9m by 2100.

Siddall said that he did not know whether the retracted paper’s estimate of sea level rise was an overestimate or an underestimate.

Announcing the formal retraction of the paper from the journal, Siddall said: “It’s one of those things that happens. People make mistakes and mistakes happen in science.” He said there were two separate technical mistakes in the paper, which were pointed out by other scientists after it was published. A formal retraction was required, rather than a correction, because the errors undermined the study’s conclusion.

In a statement the authors of the paper said: “Since publication of our paper we have become aware of two mistakes which impact the detailed estimation of future sea level rise. This means that we can no longer draw firm conclusions regarding 21st century sea level rise from this study without further work.

h/t Claude Harvey

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Douglas DC

“Mistakes were made”-the Nuremburg excuse..

MattN

2 mistakes? Isn’t peer review supposed to catch mistakes?

edward

Are all of these withdrawals and revelations occurring now because of the strength of the vast fossil fuel funded skeptic industry or is the mainstream media finally smelled enough blood in the water to go after the Climate Industry on it’s own. I do not think we would have seen this 5 months ago.
Thanks
Ed

I congratulate the scientists involved for retracting a flawed study rather than trying to brazen it out or “move on” as has been the habit of others.

Basically any paper that supports the idea of catastrophic global warming should be expected to be withdrawn in the next few weeks.
Alarmism is dead. Next.

Also covered by The Guardian is new from the AAAS conference that the big wigs (inc. Lord Rees of RoySoc) are concerned about the public’s loss of faith in science due to the controversy over climate science:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/feb/21/climate-change-attacks-damaging-science

I agree!
It’s great to see the retraction of a climate paper published in Nature because “we can no longer draw firm conclusions regarding 21st century sea level rise.”
With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel

stan

Given the gross incompetence that Rahmstorf has demonstrated in the past, I’m surprised that even a kindergarten journal would take his work.

Michael J. Bentley

Humm,
Sorry we made some mistakes, and with all the fuss going on from some…nitwits who don’t believe, well, we now need more study.
Please may we have another grant or three to recheck our data??
Thanks
Uh huh, I think I get it, (reaches to protect his wallet)
Mike Bentley

Doug in Seattle

Alarmism is NOT dead. It is wounded. The would isn’t mortal either.
There is too much money, politics, and pride behind the AGW movement still. Expect them to regroup and come back with a vengeance when summer returns to the northern hemisphere.

Steve Keohane

The average sea level rise per century for the past 12,000 years (100M) has been 83cm. They need much bigger numbers to get into unprecedented-catastrophic territory.

Margaret

Good on them for withdrawing once the mistakes were found. If only some others were prepared to do the same. I hope that they can reanalyse their data and republish a corrected version. That is the way science is supposed to make progress.

Slightly off-topic, but it’s interesting that two days previously The Guardian posted this article:
“Climate sceptics are recycled critics of controls on tobacco and acid rain”
by Jeffrey Sachs
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/feb/19/climate-change-sceptics-science
This article, in my opinion, is one of the most ludicrous statements to come out of the AGW movement in recent times.
“We are witnessing a predictable process by ideologues and right-wing think tanks and publications to discredit the scientific process. Their arguments have been repeatedly disproved for 30 years”
Haha!

The AGM Emperor’s are down to their thongs in Europe, loin cloths is India & shredded boxers in the USofA… LOL. OMG, forgive me if I have sinned… etc, etc. LOL, again… !
Do you all smell the accelerated pace of the awakening of ‘the little people?’ It seems that more & more Deniers are born everyday, or is that the sacrament of conversion in the air?
I think the global market for tree ring counters is collapsing. Speaking of collapsing, any one know a good “green stock” I can short?

Corey

Here’s the paper, for anyone interested:
Constraints on future sea-level rise from past sea-level change
Mark Siddall1*, Thomas F. Stocker2 and Peter U. Clark3
http://geo.oregonstate.edu/files/geo/Siddall-2009-NatureGeo.pdf

rbateman

Mistakes were made.
Really? Sounds more like things got really sloppy on AR4.
Ok, where the catch? There’s always a catch with these people.

leftymartin

When this paper came out, it was trumpeted by many as debunking the increasingly bizarre sea level prognostications being made by the alarmist fringe, most notably Rahmstorf (of the “hockey team”). It is interesting how some skeptics (for the record, I am a skeptic) are spinning this retraction. Good on them for fessing up to an error (paging Michael Mann, paging Michael Mann), but from a skeptic’s viewpoint that is the only plus to come out of this.

Corey (19:57:24) :
Here’s the paper, for anyone interested:
Constraints on future sea-level rise from past sea-level change

A good exercise would be for all the smart cookies here to spot the two mistakes…

Richard

the authors of the paper said: “..we can no longer draw firm conclusions regarding 21st century sea level rise from this study..
Oh dear! This was a study that was supposed to “strengthen the confidence with which one may interpret the IPCC results“.
If we can no longer rely on the “peer reviewed” studies the IPCC relies on, maybe be can rely on Al Gore’s gut feeling instead? After all if he bought a beachside property just after the global drowning alarm, he must be pretty sure that its safe.

Eve

New quote of the week: People make mistakes and mistakes happen in science.
That is the point. The debate never happened and the science is not settled.

u.k.(us)

Remember, we almost got sold out, at COP15, over this type of s**t.
Thanks to Anthony (and too many others to name), we didn’t.
Thanks, to all of you!

Noelene

The Guardian prints that story,and makes sure to point out what others are saying about sea level rise,by providing a link to a paper.
The paper they link to says that
How much faster? Pfeffer et al. (25) provided an independent
estimate of maximum ice discharge based on geographic constraints
on ice flow; they concluded that sea-level rise in the 21st
century is very unlikely to exceed 200 cm. If this estimate is correct, a nonlinear dynamical ice-sheet response may not
change our estimate upward by very much.
To limit global sea-level rise to a maximum of 1 m in the long
run (i.e., beyond 2100), as proposed recently as a policy goal (26),
deep emissions reductions will be required. Likely they would
have to be deeper than those needed to limit global warming to
2 °C, the policy goal now supported by many countries. Our
analysis further suggests that emissions reductions need to come
early in this century to be effective.
Software code accompanying this article is available (SI
Sea-Level Code).
End
They are shifting the goal post again,now we have to reduce our emissions to limit sea rise beyond 2100.
The more you give,the more they take.

Steve Oregon

Dr. Robert (19:24:24) ,
“Alarmism is dead. Next.”
Next?
Any Nobel earned with the alarmism of catastrophic global warming should be expected to be withdrawn in the next few weeks.

Daniel H

What are those whisker-like things protruding from the island in that photo? I’m assuming it must be man made since it’s so symmetrical and unnatural looking. It looks like some kind of pontoons.
REPLY: Tourist huts on stilts with a boardwalk connecting them. -a

Andrew30

edward (19:19:53) :
“Are all of these withdrawals and revelations occurring now because of the strength of the vast fossil fuel funded skeptic industry..”
You, like most followers have been kept in the dark about the mission funding. Open your Own Eyes an Look For Yourself, Think For Yourself.
At the bottom of this page:
http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/about/history/
From the Climate Research Units own web site you will find a partial list of companies that fund the CRU.
It includes:
British Petroleum, ‘Oil, LNG’
Broom’s Barn Sugar Beet Research Centre, ‘Food to Ethanol’
The United States Department of Energy, ‘Nuclear’
UK Nirex Ltd. ‘Nuclear’
Sultanate of Oman, ‘LNG’
Shell Oil, ‘Oil, LNG’
Tate and Lyle. ‘Food to Ethanol’
Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, ‘Nuclear’
KFA Germany, ‘Nuclear’
World Wildlife Fund, ‘Political Advocates’
Greenpeace International, ‘Political Advocates’
You might what to check out what these and the other funding companies actually do.
So can you climate scientologists please stop with the skeptics in the pockets of Big Oil thing, it’s getting old. These companies have been funding the CRU for years and years. British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell were in there right at the start in 1974.

Michael J. Bentley

Eve
Spot ON!
Steven Oregon,
Best not hold your breath – Nobels used to be something special, now available in the bargan section at your local Walmart.
Mike Bentley

pat

there’s probably a new paper about to be fast-tracked through the peer review process saying the sea rise will actually be 82m by the end of the century!
guardian is spinning as usual, but “true estimate is still unknown” is all we need to know for now.

Who do we have to thank for ‘uncovering’ this error, for performing some sort of due diligence, analyzing the ‘analysis’ or perusing the ‘raw data’ and pesting the poor authors with FOIA requests to get to the ‘bottom’ of this/the ‘paper’:
Robert ? (Troll Robert from Willis’ post, not Dr. Robert above)
Joel Shore?
RC?
NONE of the above?
.
.

Willis Eschenbach

From the Guardian, I find this deliciously ironic:

Nature Publishing Group, which publishes Nature Geoscience, said this was the first paper retracted from the journal since it was launched in 2007.

It looks like some of the Real Climate boys realized they need to take credit for finding mistakes before the skeptics do, in order to re-gain eroding public trust. Maybe, and finally, the beginning a good honest trend.

Henry chance

Hockey and sticks
Doping
Gold medals.
Paper withdrawn.
Unprecedented

Bruckner8

Leif Svalgaard (20:09:37) :
Corey (19:57:24) :
Here’s the paper, for anyone interested:
Constraints on future sea-level rise from past sea-level change
A good exercise would be for all the smart cookies here to spot the two mistakes…

I’m not one of the resident smarties, but I can spot one issue right off the bat: Not using a large enough data set for fig 3! Even in the Method section they state “for the last century, projected into next century.”
I was actually tipped off by the fact that the Fig 3 graph doesn’t even predict a POSSIBILITY of the sea level going DOWN….every modelled scenario produces a HIGHER value. That got my spidey senses tingling, cuz if they had enough observational data, surely the sea level has been LOWER in the past. (I don’t know for certain…I’m just using instinct here.)
Am I close? Do I pass? I have no clue what the other transgression might be.

Richard K

Oceanographer James McCarthy, the AAAS’s president-elect, said that after initial successes in tripping up the IPCC, sceptics will redouble their efforts to highlight other errors.
How about finding the errors first and not worrying about the sceptics.

Peter Wilson

The main point to take from this is that the paper in question had been peer reviewed, which review had failed to spot the errors in question. It was then examined by other scientists AFTER publication, who found the errors. I wonder if these scientists will now be vilified for “reducing the sum of human knowledge”, as Gavin Schmidt has recently accused Steve McIntyre of doing?
This actually is the way science is supposed to work, with papers subject to detailed scrutiny by the wider community after publication. It further illustrates that the adjective “peer reviewed” is of little relevance in establishing the validity or otherwise of research.

Relax guys. The authors retracted the paper potentially because their sea level rise estimates were *lower* than what is modelled.
“In the Nature Geoscience retraction, in which Siddall and his colleagues explain their errors, Vermeer and Rahmstorf are thanked for “bringing these issues to our attention”.
“Martin Vermeer of the Helsinki University of Technology, Finland and Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany published a study in December that projected a rise of 0.75m to 1.9m by 2100.”
But this is important in a different dimension:
This paper now leaves the Vermeer and Rahmstorf paper dangling without support (not that there is any lack of such papers).
It reduces the confidence in the IPCC by the same amount it increased it in, when it was published.
It shows that honesty is possible in climate science. Unlike other ‘scientists’ who believe, the message is more important.
Shub

papertiger

I think you are jumping the gun here a little bit. First of all these mistakes were pointed out by Stefan Ramsdorf – a guy who claims that sea level rise “will surpass worst case senario”.
Am I the only one smelling a rat here?

u.k.(us)

Richard K (20:56:35) :
Oceanographer James McCarthy, the AAAS’s president-elect, said that after initial successes in tripping up the IPCC, sceptics will redouble their efforts to highlight other errors.
How about finding the errors first and not worrying about the sceptics.
————-
In my line of work, my biggest worry was the mistakes i missed, not the ones i found.

papertiger

Oh I forgot the second point. The UK Guardian? Hello?
What do we have more of then the other guys? Truth – at least that’s the way I see it.
What happens if we lose our credibility?
They’re trying to submarine us. Don’t let them do it.

Bruckner8 (20:52:56) :
I’m not one of the resident smarties, but I can spot one issue right off the bat: Not using a large enough data set for fig 3! Even in the Method section they state “for the last century, projected into next century.”
Not knowing your model, I can’t tell. But another thing that struck me was their assumption that the temperatures in the past that they use to ‘tune’ their model [note the use of R^2 !] have no errors. If there are errors in the reconstructions [and they must be] then those will feed into their projections and increase the error in the projection.

Roger Knights

Andrew30 (20:21:38) :

edward (19:19:53) :
“Are all of these withdrawals and revelations occurring now because of the strength of the vast fossil fuel funded skeptic industry..”

You, like most followers have been kept in the dark about the mission funding. …

edward was just being facetious.

wayne

Red:
It seems that more & more Deniers are born everyday, or is that the sacrament of conversion in the air?
Skeptics, not deniers, I find few totally denying. Seems to be the few AGW proponets that have appeared here of late. They are doing more for the awakening than most scientifically minded skeptics could ever do. Visitors can now view their methology up close and personal.

James Allison

Possible critics from both AGWers and skeptics. The IPCC are running out of corners to sit in.

The peer review process rarely catches errors. Its more like a sniff test which has problems of its own (as has been mentioned on this site and CA).
The real peer review happens when other scientists examine data and methodology via attempted replication. That’s why data sharing and methodological transparency are so important.
It is rare to see a paper withdrawn by its authors but credit to them that they took it on the chin and did the right thing.
We are too cynical sometimes. Climate science is working its way back to normal science.

Latimer Alder

‘Are all of these withdrawals and revelations occurring now because of the strength of the vast fossil fuel funded skeptic industry..’
How do I apply? So far I worked out how to be a sceptic without any outside help. Just saw the fishy nature of the Warmists claims, and the even dodgier nature of some of them.
But if there’s a slush fund somewhere, I could do with a few bob.
Is there an examination to qualify, and must I provide backup data? Or does self-certification (a la Jones and Mann) count? Do I wait until a ‘shadowy figure’ from the ‘Big Oil complex’ comes knocking on my door?

John A (21:42:55) :
Climate science is working its way back to normal science.
Amen, and science is in the end self-correcting.

Ron Cram

Don’t be overly excited about the paper being withdrawn. The mistakes found were found by people who believe sea level rise will be much higher than the mistaken paper had concluded.

G.L. Alston

Am I the only one who read this as being a retraction based on the supposition that the projected numbers were too small?
I realize everyone here is seeing ‘retracted’ as admission of a too-large error, but that seems to me to be wishful thinking.
“Whoops, we were wrong… the sea’s gonna hit +348 cm by Sept 2013.”
The original (guardian? telegraph?) article reads this way anyway.

Graham Dick

Oliver K. Manuel (19:29:25) :
‘ It’s great to see the retraction of a climate paper published in Nature because “we can no longer draw firm conclusions regarding 21st century sea level rise.” ‘
Permissable, however, would be a statement like “the only firm conclusion regarding 21st century sea level rise is that it is the interval between low tide and high tide. For predictions beyond that, we now rely on a crystal ball.”

STEPHEN PARKER

Its………….. watergate! was i first?

I don’t want to sound alarmist, but if my memory serves me correctly,
in terms of the activity noted on the sun, a period of more clouds is now coming or on its way (Svensmark’s theory).
Obviously more cloud cover leads to more precipitation and subsequent (global) cooling.
I think therefore it not so strange to observe that as a result we have:
1) more snow (everywhere in the NH during winter)
2) more rain (now Madeira) also here in South Africa (except for the southern parts)
3) which eventually may lead to a rise in river levels in the areas where we have this excessive precipitation
hence we should check all our river levees???!!!