Request for Assistance In Assessing an Important Sea Level Study

Note:John Droz asked me for help with research yesterday, and while I have no time at the moment, I did suggest he contact Bob Tisdale, and this is the result. In an effort to get him some help, I present this on WUWT – Anthony

Guest Post by John Droz, Jr.


I am asking for help from oceanographers and/or others who have experience with sea level measurements.

I am a physicist (energy expert) who has been involved with several environmental issues over the last thirty years.

I am a traditional scientist in that I am a strong advocate of subjecting hypothesis for solutions to our environmental issues to the Scientific Method. In other words, I would expect that proposed solutions have a comprehensive, independent, transparent and empirical based assessment. (Unfortunately, this now seems to be the minority view among scientists.)

I have written extensively on energy issues, and have given free presentations in some ten states. This is online at EnergyPresentation.Info. There are also several slides about AGW.

Anyway, the case at hand is that I was recently asked by my local representatives for some scientific assistance.

The brief story is that North Carolina is attempting to be the first state in the nation to impose rather comprehensive and consequential (i.e. expensive) rules and regulations on its coastal communities. This is based on projected substantially increased sea levels, due to the assumed effects of AGW.

But it’s worse than that. The basis for these changes is a 2010 NC Sea Level Assessment Report (

I have been told that the US federal government funded this study. The stated intention was that they would like that this study be used by the rest of the coastal states (plus the federal government) as a basis for new rules and regulations. If this came about as planned, there would clearly be worldwide implications to this simple report.

As such, it is my view, that it is imperative to get it right.

In my reading of the report, the key assumptions are that:

1 – the IPCC sea level rise projections (15± inches by 2100) are the minimum expected, and

2 – that Rahmstorf (rahmstorf_science_2007, is a credible source to use as a high end (55± inches by 2100).

To give the appearance of being reasonable, the report authors (13 esteemed scientists) selected a value near the middle of these numbers: 39± inches by 2100.

Figure 2 (page 11 of the NC sea level report) and the accompanying text in the report shows and explains this.

Figure 2. This chart illustrates the magnitude of SLR resulting from differing rates of acceleration. The most likely scenario for 2100 AD is a rise of 0.4 meter to 1.4 meters (15 inches to 55 inches) above present.

This is not my area of expertise, so I can not make a technical critique of Rahmstorf’s work, or the referenced Church & White (2006) report. If anyone can provide some scientific evidence, pro or con, regarding these documents, it would be greatly appreciated.

Again, what happens about this in NC will likely be a precursor to other coastal states (and countries), so this is an international big deal.

Feel free to email me directly at “aaprjohn [ at ] northnet dot org”.


john droz, jr.

physicist & environmental advocate

Morehead City, NC


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John, the very first thing is establish that the land is not sinking or eroding………


Remotely related sea stuff:
Plancton is growing fast at antarctica, removes CO2 from athmospere due to increased CO2-concentrations.
In Finland the Baltic sea ice has hit record high since 1987.

Al G

Thanks for your name Mr. Droz. I will take steps to ensure your views are not represented in the upcoming debate.


Sea level may drop in 2010
Posted on January 17, 2011 by Anthony Watts
Guest post by John Kehr
“2010 could likely show a significant drop global sea level.”
“Since the data has not been updated since August it is difficult to guess more precisely,…..”
“If the drop does show up as expected it is possible that 2010 will show the largest drop in sea level ever recorded.”
Has the data for 2010 since August been posted?


John seems to say he is an old fashioned scientist who relies on empirical evidence, but then says “The brief story is that North Carolina is attempting to be the first state in the nation to impose rather comprehensive and consequential (i.e. expensive) rules and regulations on its coastal communities. This is based on projected substantially increased sea levels, due to the assumed effects of AGW.
But it’s worse than that. The basis for these changes is a 2010 NC Sea Level Assessment Report
“, which gives the impression that he has “done an alarmist” i.e. decided on the conclusion and is now working out how to adjust the data.
Perhaps my initial read through is wrong, but let’s gather data first and then talk about the conclusion. If the conclusion agrees with the IPCC then so be it.

Sorry – I see he’s referring to a US funded study. Now it makes sense.

David Larsen

I have read phd. written papers of sea level heights during the Aurginacian Oscillation time period. They stated the sea levels were 120 feet above what they are today in Northern Europe. What imposition of increased tax levels or other ‘solutions’ are going to change a natural process? Do you need more research money? Get it from Al Gore. He has been able to fleece honest people for a while now. He has perfected the art.


I think we can see why the ClimateGate Crew and others were so emphatic on never admitting anything now. The extra time they gave to the scam has allowed junk science to permeate all levels of public policy and will be nearly impossible to eradicate short term.

We compiled a list of multiple sea-level studies, including a variety of predictions. The list can be found here:
At the bottom of the posting are source url’s for each study. Hope this helps.


I think that you might want to talk to Lucia, over at the Blackboard. She has looked at Rahmstorf 2007 pretty hard, here are a couple of links.
Hope this helps.

Don K

A reasonable place to start would be the Wikipedia article on sea level rise which seems actually to be pretty good.
There is tidal gauge data covering about 120 years and satellite data for less than 20. The observed tidal gauge based rise is less than 8 inches per century. The satellite estimate is closer to 12 inches a century. If I had to make a guess, I’d go with the satellites because the geographical distribution of the tidal gauges is said to be less than optimal for assessing global sea level rise.
How much global warming based change one appends depends on how much faith one has in “climate science” and how important it is not to underestimate. Personally, I think climate science ranks somewhere between phrenology and economics on the credibility scale, but I don’t have to make important decisions based on my opinion.
Also, one probably needs to know whether coastal North Carolina itself is sinking or rising and how fast. If one must interpolate from other East Coast locations, remember that coastal locations further North may be affected by isostatic rebound from glaciation.

I’m glad to see NC is taking this route.
the primary damage mechanism from global warming comes from sea level rise.
It is far more sensible to let local communities change their coastal development behavior rather than forcing others to change their emissions behavior.
plan for 1meter of rise.
The other thing they need to know is that you cant use a global average to estimate the regional number. Its more complex than that. See the dutch studies on regional sea level rise. Some places go up, others go down.
Plan on a meter. Hope the truth is less than that.
BTW. it would cost the US 400B to mitigate the damage from a 1 meter sea level rise.
spread over 90 years. not that big a deal. control c02 globally? big deal.

Phillip Bratby

John Droz is widely regarded for his work on the worthlessness of wind turbines.

Paul Hull

For a layman’s view, it’s hard to beat the late John Daly’s site at The 1841 mean sea level mark, placed by Captain Sir James Ross Clark on the Isle of the Dead, Tasmania is pretty convincing. “Now who are you going to believe? Me, or your own lying eyes” Sarc / off

Laurence M. Sheehan, PE

The Earth turns, and things change, beyond any control of humans. Wealthy people build grand houses on oceans edges, subject to severe erosion, then expect much less wealthy taxpayers to pay for projects to prevent and reverse the effects of erosion.
It is no more than a scam that CO2 has any signifiicant effect on temperature or climate.
I do know that back in the 1

Bloke down the pub

Unless I,m being daft, Fig. 2 seems to suggest that sea level will continue rising even if the global temperature anomaly is negative. I wonder what forcing they suggest is going to cause that?

Claude Harvey

I’d start with the satellite record at
It has the advantage, I think, of eliminating land subsidence issues. Also note that, contrary to predictions of accelerating sea level rise, the overall average rate since satellites began recording has declined from 3.2 mm per year to 3.1 mm per year. Note also that almost no readings have been recorded above the 3.1 mm trend line since the beginning of 2010.


You may want to look at John Daly’s website. John died sevral years ago, but the site lives on and he did some interesting studies of sea level rise.


A bunch of comments. First, sea level has been rising since the LIA. Temperatures have been rising since the LIA. That’s the “correlation” that’s shown. It would have been nice if they’d color coded their dots to show time rather than having them all be red. You get no sense from their figure of whether or not the relationship between T and dH seems to be coherently changing with time or not. For example, there used to be more surface area with glaciers during the LIA, so one might expect that sea level would be more sensitive to T back then. Second, actual sea level measurements from satellite altimetry seem to show a recent slowdown in sea level rise rather than an acceleration. This is consistent with measurements from the recent Argos network. There is the built in assumption in the above work that temperatures will continue to rise following IPCC scenarios and therefore sea level rise should accelerate if anything. Third, any change in sea level would not be uniform globally. NC is on the shelf side of the Gulf Stream and would be influenced by changes in Gulf Stream transport among other things. Are there any GPS grounded sea level measurements along the NC coast? I think NOAA might have done some surveying for various projects. If the surveys have been repeated, which should be likely, then you can separate actual sea level change from changes in the elevation of the coast. The rates at which the coast is rising or sinking should be relatively constant as long as there’s been no significant ground water depletion or oil extraction from pumping. So you could potentially come up with measurements of NC sea level change to use. Local use of altimetry is limited by ground track resolution (and shifting by +/- 1 km over which the geoid can vary significantly) plus land contamination when the satellite is too close to shore.
The biggest assumption, is the high assumed sensitivity of the atmosphere to CO2. Without this assumption, the future projected temperature rises don’t happen and of course the resulting sea level rises don’t happen either. There are a number of threads about this which have appeared on WUWT from time to time.
Hope this helps.


Roger Pielke, Jr. should have references in the resource economics field that pertain to coastal flooding and property damage assessments. The issue is both the relative change in sea level from present values and the costs of disaster recovery and mitigation. It’s not a bad thing to use reasonable projections to inform a cost analysis for developers, property owners, and the insurance industry. It is a bad thing when government pushes you around or subsidizes risks that you ought to bear yourself.

Laurence M. Sheehan, PE

I would suggest that a professional chemical engineer, one who knows about the specific heat capacity of gases, be consulted as to the effects CO2 has on atmospheric temperature.
I know that back in the 1940s, 90 bushels of corn per acre was considered to be a bumper crop, and that 60 bushels per acre was a good crop. As a result of the increased CO2 levels since then, 140 bushels of corn per acre is common as of now.
As for the measurement of sea levels, the problem is that there is no fixed benchmark from which to measure diffences in elevation.


High red dot 3 mm/yr
90 yrs til 2100
90 x 3 = 270
25.4mm = 1 inch
270/25.4 = 10.6
So lets call it a foot by 2100.
Did I miss something?

Hector M.

Rahmstorf’s forecast is just a statistical extrapolation of past trends, and its reception in scientific circles (including those most enthusiastic about predictions of rapid sea level rise) was not of wholehearted approval. Most people (including Rahmstorf) have not insisted with that exercise.
IPCC projections are based on a variety of sources and models and are on the whole more credible, although quite uncertain in a number of respects.
Recent work on the various aspects of the matter have not produced projections very different from IPCC scenarios. If anything, observed sea level rise as measured from satellites appears to have decelerated in the 2000s (especially since 2003) relative to the years before (since satellite measurements started in late 1992). At any rate, satellite measurements give a trend of about 30cm per century for the world average.
On the other hand, all this refers to eustatic or equilibrium average sea level, not to the relative level of sea water relative to the features of a particular coast, which is also affected by land uplifting or subsidence, and by deposition or removal of sediment.

George E. Smith

Well I can make a suggestion to those esteemed 13 scientists; who are selecting values to make things look good. Instead of 39+/- inches by 2100 try using a nice round number like 39.37 inches; that seems much more scientific.

David L. Hagen

John Dorz
My compliments on approaching it from a scientific viewpoint!
For papers ignored by the IPCC, see the 880 p
NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change) 2009 report
See Chapter 4, Section 4.5. Sea-level Rise, pp 184-206.
See: Figure Mean global sea level (top), with shaded 95
percent confidence interval, and mean gsl rate-of-rise (bottom),
with shaded standard error interval, adapted from Jevrejeva et al.
Note that the rate of sea level rise appears to be oscillating.
( possibly due to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which has about a 60 year period?)
See: Figure Cumulative increase in mean global sea level
(1904-2003) derived from nine high-quality tide gauge records
from around the world. Adapted from Holgate (2007).
Source: Holgate, S.J. 2007. On the decadal rates of sea level change
during the twentieth century. Geophysical Research Letters
34: 10.1029/2006GL028492.
Note that the long term rate of rise has been declining. (Not rising as fast in later years).
Then look particularly for papers by
Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner, Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics, Stockholm, Sweden
INTERVIEW: DR. NILS-AXEL MÖRNER Sea-level Expert: It’s Not Rising!
21st CENTURY Science & Technology Fall 2007 25

“Question: I would like to start with a little bit about your background.”
“I am a sea-level specialist. There are many good sea-level people in the world, but let’s put it this way: There’s no one who’s beaten me. I took my thesis in 1969, devoted to a large extent to the sea-level problem. From then on I have launched most of the new theories, in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. I was the one who understood the problem of the gravitational potential surface, the theory that it changes with time. I’m the one who studied the rotation of the Earth, how it affected the redistribution of the oceans’ masses. And so on.
I was president of INQUA, an international fraternal association, their Commission on
Sea-Level Changes and Coastal Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner has studied sea level and its effects on coastal areas for some 35 years. Recently retired as director of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics Department at Stockholm University, Mörner is past
president (1999-2003) of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, and leader of the Maldives Sea Level Project.”
Mörner was interviewed by Associate Editor Gregory Murphy on June 6. The interview here is abridged; a full version appeared in Executive Intelligence Review, June 22, 2007. Evolution, from 1999 to 2003.

Google search Nils-Axel Mörner with about 418 hits.
Note Mörner’s latest paper:
Solar Minima, Earth’s rotation and Little Ice Ages in the past and in the future: The North Atlantic–European case Global and Planetary Change Volume 72, Issue 4, July 2010, Pages 282-293
Quaternary and Global Change: Review and Issues Special issue in memory of Hugues FAURE

The past Solar Minima were linked to a general speeding up of the Earth’s rate of rotation. This affected the surface currents and southward penetration of Arctic water in the North Atlantic causing “Little Ice Ages” over northwestern Europe. At around 2040–2050 we will be in a new major Solar Minimum. It is to be expected that we will then have a new “Little Ice Age” over the Arctic and NW Europe. The mechanism proposed for the linkage of Solar activity with Earth’s rotation is the interaction of Solar Wind with the Earth’s magnetosphere; the decrease in Solar Wind at sunspot minima weakens the interaction with the magnetosphere that allows the Earth to speed up, and the increase in Solar Wind at sunspot maxima strengthens the interaction with the magnetosphere that slows down the spinning of the Earth.

This thesis promises a DECLINING rate of sea level in the upcoming decades in contrast to IPCC’s projections.

Steve in SC

Some annecdotal evidence from my memory which goes back to 1953.
Coastal development has covered what was at one time pretty much uninhabited sand bars. Back years ago Nags Head was just a few buildings now it is covered up in tourist attractions. Topsail island used to have a few houses and some coastal watch towers on the south end but the north end was just a swamp with some vicious mosquitos. Now, the north end is all built up and subdivided. The whole of the outer banks is and has been eroding and building up for centuries. That is how the barrier islands got there in the first place. Every time there is a storm there is great wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was that way when Hazel hit and it has been the same ever since. No tax, nor fee, is going to change the way nature works. The moral of the story is that if the ocean is trying to come in your back door it is past time to move.
Insurance rates are high for people who have structures on coastal sand bars and they should be. No tax or fee is going to change anything. If you are dumb enough to put your house right next to the ocean, then do not be surprised when one day the ocean washes it away.


Rahmstorf’s forecast is just a statistical extrapolation of past trends

And that is something that really bothers me about “climate science” in general. I have made the comment that a climate scientist must be scared to death of roller coasters at amusement parks because they would assume the initial climb would continue forever and they would die from lack of oxygen and then the following drop would continue forever and cause them to burn in hot magma.
Has the climate warmed since the 1800’s? Sure. And the associated retreat of glaciers would be expected to increase sea levels. That is not in question as far as I am concerned. What *is* in question is whether this is unusual in the context of geological history. We might note that “global warming” has for all practical purposes stopped in the 21st century. According to the graphs provided by U. Colorado, sea level rise has been flat since late 2005; there hasn’t been any. Sure, there are bumps and dips due to thermal impacts of el nino and la nina events, but overall the trend is flat since 2005.
To conclude that the rise associated with the recovery from the LIA will continue forever is purely speculation. To further conclude that this rise is due to human activity is speculation piled on speculation.
In addition, we know that sea levels have been up to 2 meters higher than present during the current Holocene interglacial. We also know that glaciers have during this interglacial have retreated to a greater extent in the past than they have since the LIA. We know this because as these glaciers retreat, they are exposing wood that is about 5,000 years old. Assuming this wood was transported some distance by the glacier from where it grew, it would be logical to conclude that the glaciers in the Alps were in the recent geological past much smaller than they are now and that currently glaciated areas were ice free and were ice free long enough to become forested.
Now back to the question of sea level rise. The question to ask, in my opinion, is what is most LIKELY to happen. Assuming warmer temperatures mean higher sea level, it is most likely that sea level rise will most likely slow a bit or even stop. Should Northern Hemisphere (NH) climate begin to cool for any significant period of time, as is likely with a colder PDO cycle, sea levels may actually decline a bit. As there is much more glacial variability in the NH than in the SH, NH climate would be expected to have a greater impact on sea levels than SH climate. A doubling of ice volume in North America and Europe, for example, would have a greater impact than a doubling if ice volume in South America and Africa.
What isn’t given enough weight, in my opinion, is the impact of the recovery from the LIA and probably the continued warming of the abyssal ocean (albeit slow) from that event. It is easier to cool deep water than it is to warm it from changes in surface temperature due to convection.
“Global warming” has been flat for about the past 10 years. Sea level rise has been flat for about the last 6 years. Projections of sea level rise don’t seem to take the latest 10 years into account and don’t seem to take into account the change in trend starting in late 2005.
If you look at this graph: with the exception of the strong 2009/2010 el nino thermal event, there is no rising trend for sea levels since 2005. The trend is “flat” at about the 20mm line. Sadly this graph is not updated frequently and still only shows data up to the middle of 2010.

I suggest you contact Prof. Nils-Axel Mörner, the former head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics Dept at Stockholmt University. As President of INQUA he did the field work and report for the Maldives and has recently finished the survey for Bangladesh.

David L. Hagen



Tom Konerman says: February 24, 2011 at 10:22 am

“If the drop does show up as expected it is possible that 2010 will show the largest drop in sea level ever recorded.”
Has the data for 2010 since August been posted?

(hide the decline).


Best solution for the CO2, the sea is about to wash us off the planet crowd,,
Find a solid rock planet with no CO2 move there, enjoy.

Dave in Delaware

another recommendation toward the work of Dr Mörner
Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner projects 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) in the next 100 years-
Excerpts from Interview: Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner
“…when I became president of the INQUA Commission on Sea-Level Change and Coastal Evolution, we made a research project, and we had this up for discussion at five international meetings. And all the true sea level specialists agreed on this figure, that in 100 years, we might have a rise of 10 cm, with an uncertainty of plus or minus 10 cm—that’s not very much. And in recent years, I even improved it, by considering also that we’re going into a cold phase in 40 years. That gives 5 cm rise, plus or minus a few centimeters. That’s our best estimate. But that’s very, very different from the IPCC statement.”
Tide gauging is very complicated, because it gives different answers for wherever you are in the world. But we have to rely on geology when we interpret it. So, for example, those people in the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], choose Hong Kong, which has six tide gauges, and they choose the record of one, which gives 2.3 mm per year rise of sea level. Every geologist knows that that is a subsiding area. It’s the compaction of sediment; it is the only record which you shouldn’t use.
Now, back to satellite altimetry… From 1992 to 2002, [the graph of the sea level] was a straight line, variability along a straight line, but absolutely no trend whatsoever. We could see those spikes: a very rapid rise, but then in half a year, they fall back again. But absolutely no trend, and to have a sea-level rise, you need a trend. Then, in 2003, the same data set, which in their [IPCC’s] publications, in their website, was a straight line—suddenly it changed, and showed a very strong line of uplift, 2.3 mm per year, the same as from the tide gauge. And that didn’t look so nice. It looked as though they had recorded something; but they hadn’t recorded anything. It was the original one which they had suddenly twisted up, because they entered a “correction factor,” which they took from the tide gauge. So it was not a measured thing, but a figure introduced from outside. I accused them of this at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow—I said you have introduced factors from outside; it’s not a measurement. It looks like it is measured from the satellite, but you don’t say what really happened. And they answered,that we had to do it, because otherwise we would not have gotten any trend!
… So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don’t find it!


I don’t have any of the skills you requested but I do have common sense. Something that is not mentioned so far is storm surges. Katrina had storm surges approaching 20 feet causing all the damage. Changes in sea level had very little to do with this even though New Orleans has been sinking for years due to ground water drained from the city. Hurricane history should be checked to see what can be expected.


Do any of the sea level projections take account of any sea floor depth changes?
This may not seem like a big deal, but to my geological mind – I think it could be significant.
For example, we have the mid atlantic ridge pushing europe and america apart – and logically presumably making the atlantic ‘volume’ bigger. At the same time, new crustal formation at the ridge will cause some volumetric reduction (?). In the Pacific, is the available volume reducing? due to subduction of plates? etc, etc…. I don’t know if it’s been checked, but did the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 result from a ‘net’ raising or lowering of the seabed at the quake epicentre?
Then we have actual ocean depths – are they changing? do we know this to any degree of accuracy? Measuring from satellites the direct surface level does not automatically simply equate to a volumetric change in the actual seawater – i.e. all the usual AGW claims of glacial meltwater entering the sea, etc.
Then there is temperature/volume correlation. warmer seas mean greater volume – but colder seas mean less volume.
Actual observed sea levels from marker points are also likely to be affected by lunar orbits (neap and spring tides, etc) and presumably can be affected as already noted by others, – factors such as isostatic rebound on any northern pre-galciated lands or (and as a geotechnical engineer it something I have to consider for buildings at all the time) subsidence (that’s settlement of the foundations) of the actual structure upon which the tidal gauge is mounted. I would presume that sea currents also play a local effect on local tide gauges.
Then we have actual precipitation/runoff and groundwater storage, along with dams, natural lakes, etc. The hydrological cycle is somewhat complex, with potentially vast quantities of water in an ‘unknown’ and highly variable state – i.e – is it in the ground, the air, or dams and rivers? – and where is it at any particular time? – look at Queensland !
All in all, the whole prediction of future sea levels is probably as difficult and impractical as the climate in my opinion!
About the most logical underlying ‘effect’ is that if the climate is warming (generally, I mean, since the last ice age – not the AGW rubbish) then sea temps are increasing and volume must be increasing and also the former ‘glacial ice’ must now be in the oceans (or the ground, or the air).
Basically, my comment is intended to help (with as much as I can think of in a few brief minutes !) to ensure Mr Droz Jr realizes that any form of prediction will unlikely be able to consider all the possible variables. Sea surface temps are supposed to be cooling but I don’t know if the sea levels are dropping as data not released yet.

Hector M.

Even if errors or problems might be elicited if IPCC’s work is scrutinised in detail, I think in the matter of sea level rise the simple AR4 analysis is, for the most part, sufficient to dispel nonsensical claims going the rounds. Some of the phrasing in the IPCC report is misleading (e.g. “[T]he Greenland Ice Sheet would largely be eliminated, raising sea level by about 7 m, if a sufficiently warm cli¬mate were maintained for millennia” (Meehl et al 2007, p.752). (Meehl et al is the 10th chapter of the WG1 report of AR4). Taken literally, the above statement is a tautology: the total GIS mass (equivalent to 7 metres of sea level) will of course be eliminated if ‘sufficiently warm climate’ is maintained for (an unspecified number of) millennia. Having that effect is, in this context, the very definition of a ‘sufficient’ warming. The likelihood of such conditions being maintained for so long is not discussed in the cited passage, but in any case the question belongs in the very long term (literally millennia according to the same document, citing a model by Ridley et al that estimates the ablation to take about 3000 years…)
But if one forgets about these nonsensical turns of phrase, the fact is that IPCC projects sea level to rise by about one foot in 100 years: the midpoint of the estimation range (i.e. the spread among models) for the various SRES scenarios goes from 28 to 42 cm from 1980-99 to 2090-99 (a period, by the way, of 105, not 100 years if you take the midpoint of each interval). Even the width of the “uncertainties” are willfully exaggerated (and skewed towards higher upper bounds) by means of playing with the so-called “land ice sum” (Meehl et al 2007, p.820). That’s another story, but indeed a masterful lesson in sophistry.
All in all, and just as a way of dealing with alarmist predictions, one may simply state that not even the IPCC has predicted more than a very modest rise in sea levels.


Well, I don’t live anywhere near the sea, but I know a bit about sea-level rise and fall, and swamps and offshore bars, which dominate NC’s coast. The projected 1 meter of rise over a century (if it occurs) will not change the barrier islands significantly. They are always in flux, depending on the seasons and the storms, the action on the sand by prevailing winds and currents form them. The swamps may become wetter and larger, and some of the river mouths will become wider, headlands will remain the same, not a big deal at all.
Steve in SC has the right take on it; anyone who builds on the ocean can expect their building to be washed away some day, especially if they have built on sand rather than rock.


I think that apart from the infant and contested nature of the research, one of your most difficult problems will be untangling the issues. We have a lot of this kind of malarkey going on in Australia, where most of the population lives (or wishes it did) as close to the beach as possible. Local authorities are now in a panic because dodgy AGW related ‘projections’ indicate that billions of dollars worth of expensive property is about to be swamped by rising seas.
Canny property owners are now seeking compensation and other taxpayer funded measures to counter normal phenomena such as erosion, land subsidence and storm surges. They are even threatening to sue if they are denied $$, saying that the agencies that allowed them to build where they did should have warned them of the impending catastrophe.
Agree with PPs that historical and geological data to map the coastline and demonstrate the naturally occurring changes is an important first step. Old photographs and press reports could be useful – maybe consult some local historical societies and newspaper archives? Perhaps local universities and geologists could assist with geological profiling of the coastal and immediate offshore area as well.
Good luck. As you say, this boondoggle has to be stopped. And, if you have any sympathetic political researchers around, ask them to address the age-old question of cui boni. I’m guessing that you will find some local real estate interests and cash strapped local authorities not far from the surface.

John from CA

Jason 1 | OSTM Jason 2
OSTM data sets should be available from NASA. NASA states that sea level has risen by 52mm since 1992 (2.74mm/yr x 90 = 247mm or 9.75″ by 2100). UCs website [ ] also makes data sets available.
UCs website also has an interactive feature that allows for the selection of a specific location and provides graphs and a corresponding table of values [ ]. If you select the NC coastline it shows little to no change since 1992.
Ignoring IPCC conclusions in favor of real data analysis is a good rule of thumb but concerns regarding the stability of the Antarctic ice shelf, which is being naturally undercut by currents, is a real concern.
Addressing threats like the Antarctic ice shelf to avoid a real problem makes more sense than building sea walls.
North Carolina Sea-Level Rise Assessment Report
Maybe its just me but I completely disagree with figure 2 on page 11 which shows an exaggerated rise in sea level.
“Predicting sea level rise in North Carolina for the next century is now and will be for an extended period, an inexact exact science. Immediate actions should be guided by what we know best, the historical sea level and storm records combined with reasonable safety factors. With improvements in data collection, climate science and modeling, sea level decadal to century-scale predictions should improve in the future. The Panel recommends a general reassessment of the planning predictions every five years or more frequently should any significant breakthroughs develop.”
Also see:
Climate craziness of the week: 8°F by 2100, sea level rise to hit US coastal cities hard°f-and-6-meters-of-sea-level-rise-by-2100/


To build on the observations of Steve in SC: There is an implicit assumption in many analyses of the results of sea level rise that the land just “sits there” to be swallowed up by rising seas. This static analysis is just not correct in many cases, such as coral atoll islands and river deltas, both of which respond dynamically to sea level changes.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina similarly respond dynamically to effects like sea level changes. These “barrier islands” are basically just giant sand bars in the ocean, and are anything but static, either horizontally or vertically. My family would camp on the beach there every summer when I was growing up, and I used to devour information on the history of the islands (as how Blackbeard the pirate was cornered and killed there).
One of the things I discovered (to my astonishment then) was the rapid rate of movement of the islands. In many places, the present location of the islands has no overlap with their location in the 1700s, as they have drifted westward. Misguided attempts to stabilize the islands with things like snow fences to create dunes have failed, and often made the problem worse, because they don’t stop erosion on the east (Atlantic Ocean) side, but prevent the natural build up on the west (Pamlico Sound) side.
In recent years, I have seen several articles on the supposed deleterious effects of sea level rise on the Outer Banks. However, all the incidents they have reported, like the need to move the Cape Hatteras lighthouse inland, are due to these “horizontal” effects, not the “vertical” effects of secular sea level rise.
Given the ephemeral nature of these sand-bar islands, there is every reason to believe that they will dynamically respond to sea-level changes of even many millimeters per year. They were not hundreds of feet above sea level during the last glacial period. They survive numerous hurricanes and nor’easters that pummel them, although in altered form. If they are temporarily beaten down by the high winds, big waves, and yes, (temporarily) increased sea levels of these storms, they quickly recover.


In my remembering there was also a paper quoted on CA last year whereby NH would rather be impacted by Antarctic melting rather than by Groenland’s – this for gravity reasons

Hector M.

Flask alludes to “The projected 1 meter of rise over a century (if it occurs) “. But in fact such rise has NOT been projected, not at least by the IPCC, nor is inferrable from current and past trends. Some people from environmental NGOs and some journalists have spoken about 1 meter, 2 meters, 7 meters and what not. But actual projections from climate models assessed by the IPCC, for what they are worth, never projected more than about one foot in a century as the midpoint projection of various models run on various emission scenarios. Newer models since the latest IPCC models have in general gono no further, though various fears have been circulated about some higher rises that “could not be discarded” (an asteroid hitting Earth or a massive earthquake in San Francisco, as well as any of us being killed by a random sniper in the coming two days, cannot be discarded either). But that is not the way to make rational assessments of the future, is it?


Dave in Delaware says:
February 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm
… So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don’t find it!
Dave, thank you for that
It is exactly the way I remember it too.
Like the hokey schick, they spliced it together to get the results they wanted…..
…and exactly like the hokey schick, they threw away all of the proxies that didn’t


This is silly.
The reality is that the excess development of coastal properties is causing an insurance nightmare, both at the private as well as at the government level. So the regulatory authorities are turning over every rock to find some way to impede this process. This absurd kabuki on sea level rise is what we get when basic science, re hurricane damage to shoreline construction, is ignored thanks to well funded lobbying.
The underlying objective on the one hand is to ensure more government insured super vulnerable beach front construction. The objective of the State is to find a pretext to block it. Science is just a tool to be used, by both sides.

John from CA

Hector M. says:
February 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm
Flask alludes to “The projected 1 meter of rise over a century (if it occurs) “. But in fact such rise has NOT been projected, not at least by the IPCC,…
IPCC models indicate .18m to .59m by 2100:
Its a good thing engineers don’t use this level of tolerance in construction.
I just went back to the NASA site to make sure I didn’t make a mistake and they are now reporting 3.27mm since 1992. Quite a 1 day drop ; )

Bill Illis

I think North Carolina has a particular problem in that post-glacial rebound is actually causing a subsidence of the land level.
In the ice ages, the northern half of North America was pushed down which created a glacial forebulge from New York to North Carolina. Now that the land in the north is still rebounding, the bulge is declining. It is about 0.5 mms per year in the northern half of North Carolina (and a little less in some places in the southern part).
The same issue is happening in southern England and the Netherlands.
Global Map of the post-glacial rebound rates (both positive and negative).
And this paper is widely cited.


John Droz
I have data for readings at Fort Denison (aka Pinchgut) in Sydney Harbour from May 1914 to October 2009. These include maximum, minimum and mean sea levels on metres.
According to my calculations the data is quite linear, rising at the rate of 0.00007 per month, 0.00084 per year or 0.084 per 100 years with no sign of any acceleration.
Say 80 odd milimetres per 100 years, not very frightening.
If anything the data looks fairly flat for the last 10 years or so.
My reference comes from
Which is a site run by the Australian Bureau of Metrology, an Australian government instrumentality.
When I downloaded it, the data only went to October 2009, but I presume that it is being updated each month since then.
This may provide you with some ancillary data.
Anthony has my email address if I can be of any further help.


Steve Mosher,
I see from your comment that you recommended that John Droz should work on a one metre rise in 100 years.
That seems to be quite excessive, given the historic rates and that there seems to be no sign of any acceleration.
I would have advised John to advise his clients to forget about possible sea level rises and to concentrate on more concrete and more pressing and immediate problems (say with a five to ten year horizon).
Problems which MAY arise in the long distant future can be handled far closer to their incidence, particularly given the questionable quality of the source of the forecast.

W. W. Wygart

Dear Al G,
A few hours ago you said,
Al G says:
February 24, 2011 at 10:17 am
“Thanks for your name Mr. Droz. I will take steps to ensure your views are not represented in the upcoming debate.”
From what Mr. Droz wrote at the top in his post it seems that is views are expressed as follows, “As such, it is my view, that it is imperative to get it right.”
Al G, what precisely is it about, “…that it is imperative to get it right.” that needs to be excluded from the upcoming debate? Are you suggesting that the people of North Carolina get it wrong? or get wronged???
I bet you feel like a full fledged Fascist now and full of Might and Power that you have successfully made a veiled [and anonymous] threat to stifle someone else’s freedom of expression in the name of Untruth – a threat that you are probably in actuality unable to fulfill – making your statement, perversely, a kind of Naziistic masturbation, merely fantasizing of the ability to silence another in his search for truth so that the Lie you prefer goes unmolested.
And lest you some lurking Troll feel impelled in your defense to raise the hue and cry of ‘Godwin’s Law! Godwin’s Law! in an attempt to invalidate my critique, let me introduce the group to a novel corollary to Godwin’s Law [you can call it Wygart’s Corollary if you wish] which is:
“As an online discussion grows longer the probability of someone saying something worthy of being denounced as Fascistic approaches one.”
I for one have past the point where I will tolerate the Faschist Lie – the lust for absolute control to impose a paranoid and delusional version of reality on those who think more clearly – spoken openly in civil society unchallenged.
Two days ago marked the sixty-eighth anniversary of the executions by the Nazis of Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans and Christian Probst and the execution or imprisonment of a dozen or more other members of the White Rose anti-nazi resistance organization in Munich. If you do not yet know they were executed for distributing anti-war leaflets – free speech in other words. The other night I was rewatching Marc Rothmund’s remarkable 2005 film “Sophie Scholl: the final days” to commemorate the anniversary, so I was struck quite forcefully by your remarks [incensed might be closer to the truth, but in poorer taste] and felt impelled myself to challenge you.
So, Al G, I would recommend to you to invest the 115 minutes of your life and let Sophie Scholl’s life be the mirror to show you the sad reality of what you have actually become and to see what it looks like when the truth is spoken bravely in the face of a mounting and totalitarian lie. Actually I recommend the film to anyone interested in understanding the darker forces driving political debate at all levels across society – and its cure.
My apologies to the group for being off topic [but on target].

John from CA

With respect Mr. Droz,
I think NC got it right and other States can learn from their insight.
North Carolina Sea-Level Rise Assessment Report
Maybe its just me but I completely disagree with figure 2 on page 11 which shows an exaggerated rise in sea level.
“… Immediate actions should be guided by what we know best, the historical sea level and storm records combined with reasonable safety factors. With improvements in data collection, climate science and modeling, sea level decadal to century-scale predictions should improve in the future. The Panel recommends a general reassessment of the planning predictions every five years or more frequently should any significant breakthroughs develop.
Probability of “significant breakthroughs” for the next 30 years are very close to zero.
Hope it helps,

Tom Harley

A good place to start looking at sea level would be Broome in Western Australia, where it’s Chinatown precinct is at the high tide mark, about 10 metres above the low water sea level mark, and was first built around 1900. The biggest spring tides used to lap patrons feet at the 1916 Sun Pictures outdoor picture theatre, still in use today. Tides are now 10 to 20 cm lower since about the ’70s and ’80s, however this is small when it is noted that we have in excess of 10 metres of movement twice a day during spring tides in March and October.
As the picture in the late John Daly’s site shows from Tasmania, any suggestions of rising catastrophic sea-levels is nothing more than fantasy from warmist ideologues, especially Australia’s own (cough, splutter) Tim Flannery.