What's delaying UC sea level data from being updated?

The University of Colorado at Boulder releases satellite based altimetry of sea level change several times a year. This graph below is dated December 15th according to the image timestamp.


If the previous schedule is any indication, they are now almost two months overdue. I’m not implying any nefarious motives whatsoever, but I’m wondering why it is overdue. Below is the update list. Sometimes a nudge helps. So let’s call this article a friendly nudge. I sent a query from their web page asking why, and hope to hear back soon.

Changes to each release since 2006 Release 3

2007 Release 1 (10/23/2007)

Uses the new TMR replacement product version 1.0 for T/P.

Uses GDR-B for all Jason-1 cycles.

Uses Don Chambers SSB model for T/P and the default SSB model for Jason-1 GDR-B.

Correctly applies the off-nadir pointing editing criteria of Jason-1 GDR handbook.

2007 Release 2 (12/03/2007)

T/P cycles 8 through 16 are computed by correctly applying the new TMR correction.

The one-cycle-off time tag shift error is fixed.

2008 Release 1 (01/16/2008)

Corrects an error in the non-IB GMSL that mainly affected the annual variation.

Resulted from using an IB-corrected MSS reference. The error is corrected by estimating

a local mean sea level from the non-IB data.

2008 Release 2 (05/29/2008)

Applies an ad hoc JMR correction for Jason-1 GDR-B cycles 1 through 227.

Applies 1.6 mm correction for the IB error for Jason-1 GDR-B cycles 94 through 142.

2008 Release 3 (09/08/2008)

For Jason-1, a bug is fixed to correctly interpolate the mean sea surface.

Jason-1 GDR Version B cycles 1 through 232 are used.

2008 Release 4 (12/11/2008)

Uses GDR-C for cycles 180, 184, 186-190, 193-194, 196-240, 244-246, and 248.

Updates GDR-B with GDR-C standards, e.g., GDR-C JMR, range correction, SSB model,


2009 Release 1 (02/13/2009)

Uses GDR-C for cycles 11, 14-16, 151, 153-157, 159, 161-164, 166-167, 171-173, 177,

180, 182, 184-190, 193-242, and 244-256.

2009 Release 2 (03/12/2009)

Fixes a bug in the implementation of 1.6 mm correction for the IB error for Jason-1

GDR-B cycles 94 through 142.

Updates with GDR-C cycles are 3-6, 9-10, 12, 21, 133-135, 138, 143-145, 158, 165,

169-170, 174, 176, and 257.

2009 Release 3 (07/17/2009)

Updates with more GDR-C cycles. Added Jason-2/OSTM GDR cycles 1-28.

2009 Release 4 (09/18/2009)

Newly added GDR-C cycles are 13, 17, 19, 25, 47, 53, 56, 65, 118, 123, 142, 148-150, 168,

and 183. Added Jason-2/OSTM GDR cycles 29-34.

2009 Release 5 (12/04/2009)

Includes all GDR-C cycles except 69, 82, 137, 139, 178-179, and 243.

Added Jason-2/OSTM GDR cycles 35-43.

2010 Release 1 (02/10/2010)

Now includes all GDR-C cycles. Added Jason-2/OSTM GDR cycles 44-50.

2010 Release 2 (05/06/2010)

Added Jason-2/OSTM GDR cycles 51-61.

2010 Release 3 (07/26/2010)

Added Jason-2/OSTM GDR cycles 62-66.

2010 Release 4 (10/06/2010)

Added Jason-2/OSTM GDR cycles 67-77.

2010 Release 5 (12/15/2010)

Added Jason-2/OSTM GDR cycles 78-82.


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Harold Ambler

I can hear them hoping for a miracle from here.

A miracle isn’t going to cut it.
They are likely working feverishly to have a press release which provides a theory as to how global warming causes the sea level to drop.
There is no doubt that 2010 will be at least 2mm lower, but it could be more. That is going to be a hard sell.

Wondering Aloud

These things take time… Especially when they don’t fit the plan.


thanks! i follow this graph and i was wondering the same thing. Unfortunately i have the feeling that since the data is becoming more politically incorrect that delayed sea height data may be delayed so that every effort may made to try to show increase not decrease.


Anthony, didn’t you hear? They are not late on purpose. They’re just busy plugging the holes where all of the seawater is leaking out. (must be the earthquakes they hypothesize).


“I’m wondering why it is overdue. ”
I could speculate that they’ve been desperately dumping Viagra into the sea in hopes of getting a rise, but I won’t go there.

Can you do a quick curve fit with a polynomial? 2nd or 3rd order?
I think the least squares of that could yield a “leveling curve”. Which might be interesting to note!

What are they going to do when a straight line no longer fits the data?
Surely nature wouldn’t dare show off some curves!


Yes, I can hardly wait. Now that GATA has been down sea-level rise deceleration is further evidence it is cooling, not warming. Last March, we had the “hottest March evah” and now it is cooling. Hmmmm. Not looking too good for the man-made CO2 is overheating the planet theory.


Are there any detectable changes in ocean levels after massive earthquakes centered out in the ocean like the recent one in Japan?

kbray in California

Global Warming has forced the extra Sea Water into the air….
warming air causes wetter air…
Jeeezzzz… can’t you all follow the AGW program..?

Eyal Porat

Inconvenient truth , maybe?


It’s a travesty that we can’t find the missing water. 🙂

kbray in California

I found the missing water with quick google…
The melting poles are now allowing the seawater to drip to the “inner earth”.
Just believe.

Professor Bob Ryan

You have it all wrong. The rise in beaver numbers has increased the rate of water retention and so the sea level would have risen if it wasn’t for those dam beavers……


MarcH says:
April 6, 2011 at 9:02 pm
What are they going to do when a straight line no longer fits the data?
Surely nature wouldn’t dare show off some curves!

If you download the data from http://sealevel.colorado.edu/results.php and plot the Jason and Topex data separately, you get two very different trendlines. Jason from 2002 until late 2010 shows much less than 3.1mm p.a. – it’s more like 2.5mm p.a.

Pamela Gray

Maybe they skipped a climate control pill?


Kelvin says:
It’s a travesty that we can’t find the missing water. 🙂

Don’t tell me… they’re trying to hide the decline!


It’s worse than they thought.


You are wondering why the delay, these figures just don’t change themselves you know.

Mac the Knife

C’mon Y’All!
They’ve had tons of snow in Colorado this winter. They’re probably just trying to get the last avalanche shoveled out of the path that leads to the computer shed, eh?


What’s needed is a new “trick”, a new hockey stick!

Do any other institutions monitor sea levels, or perhaps we can get the raw data and plot ourselves. If the answer is no to both questions there would be reason to suggest doubt.

Claude Harvey

The AMSU satellite temperature site also quit posting its daily updates for all altitudes in mid-December, 2010. Although it resumed posting the daily, 14,000 foot altitude temperature plot in early 2011. All other channels continue to report a data problem and “…processing suspended until resolved.” They’ve never answered my queries about the nature of the problem. Could this satellite problem be related to the UC level data shutdown?

Max Hugoson says:
April 6, 2011 at 8:59 pm
> Can you do a quick curve fit with a polynomial? 2nd or 3rd order?
I hope not! Polynomial fits can fit the range the cover quite well, but get questionable near the start and end points, and zoom off with extreme speed beyond the useful range.

Frederick Michael

Since you brought this up …
How do you measure sea level using satellites? It makes sense to measure temperature using satellites as you can look at the spectrum emitted. But sea level doesn’t seem to be something amenable to satellite measurement.
I’m especially curious about how the measurement can be to such a tight tolerance.

One plausible explanation is, that global warming causes the ocean water to boil and evaporate excessively, so the water hides up there and will haunt us soon. Was not there extreme rain in Pakistan?


Falling Global SSTs lead to a shrinkage in volume.
That alone should result in a sea level drop.


Maybe the Team got there first… they gotta hide the decline?


Hmmm, the icebreakers need to work overtime me think….


“last March we had the hottest evah”
“Maximum temperatures nationally were the coldest on record with a national anomaly of -2.19°C. Most of Australia recorded below average mean maxima with parts of the north and south of the country recording their coldest March on record” this is from http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/month/aus/summary.shtml
Kept very quiet on the ABC and MSM

Pete H

At 3.1 mm since 1994 to 2010 that would make a rise of something like 49mm. Running that back to 1964, when I started mooring a boat here in the Mediterranean sea, we would be looking at something like 142mm.
My eyes and memory just will not buy this tripe anymore!

Bob Koss

I inquired by email on March 10th and received no response. Maybe it went into their spam folder as it was my first time emailing them. Hope you have more success.
That time stamp may say December 15th, but they only show 270 days of data during 2010. The Jason satellites provide data every 10 days. Last entry shown is 2010.7415.
Here is an unofficial NOAA graph that goes through December. It has the seasonal/annual signal removed and inverted barometer applied.


Credible “homogenization” takes time. Then there is the vetting of the crew to destroy the actual readings and to estimate impossible to verify readings from Baja, Tierra del fuego. South point Hawaii, and the Faroe Islands. All of which will prove a precipitous rise in sea level unobservable to anyone else.

Peter Miller

Anthony, here are the updated figures – you may be using a redundant site.
A little scary as you can see ‘this new improved version’ shows a greater rate of sea level rise than previously, but most important and ominously it is clearly obvious a whole heap of data points on the chart have been/changed/manipulated/strangled.
But why?


I too have been watching that graph for months, waiting for an update. Last data point seems to be back in Sept/Oct time frame. Seeing that the recent El Nino correlated with a nice spike in the sea level and we currently are going thru a La Nina I suspect they do not want to show the data till the La Nina is gone. Problem is, if that is the case, and the sea level does not bounce back up to or near their black line, they are making their problem worse by delaying. How are they going to explain not showing the sea level change for 6 months or longer and when it finally comes out and shows a significant loss… whoa.

Jørgen F.

In Denmark DMI has never been able to measure the changes to global sea levels. At the same time Denmark’s underground is not very active – however still adjusting after the last ice age.
Graph in the bottom of the page.
Am I right in the observation that a lot of the changes to the global sea levels are measured in the same places on earth as where underground activity is high? – or is it farfetched and wrong.

Cassandra King

IF sea levels fall it means the death of CAGW, sea level rise was perhaps the main argument and justification for draconian taxes and action to curb atmospheric CO2.
IF the seas are not rising then CAGW is dead.

John Peter

Here is another plot of sea level rise from 1993 to end 2010 I saved from a previous thread here http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_hist_last_15.html
So there is no reason why the University of Colerado graph has not been updated. The base information is obviously available and since other plots show a fall since mid 2010 it would look strange if UC presented something entirely different. They must have technical problems, but why do they not say so?


In looking at the sea level figures from http://ibis.grdl.noaa.gov/SAT/SeaLevelRise/LSA_SLR_timeseries_global.php
there appears to be a strong divergence between the Jason-1 and Jason-2 over the past 6 or seven months. http://ibis.grdl.noaa.gov/SAT/SeaLevelRise/slr/slr_sla_gbl_free_txj1j2_90.png
Jason-1 has gone strongly negative while Jason-2 has not. Maybe this has something to do with no update on the Colorado page.


Don’t forget that the data is not raw, it is calibrated against unnamed tidal gauges, i.e. the dreaded “adjustment”. If I recall, the raw Topex data, in particular, showed very little increase.


Given that the UC data graph is all Jason-1 data… I think the fact that Jason-1 has gone wildly negative since mid 2010 (as shown by the previous link) that pretty much explains why they havent updated it. They may be trying to come up with a valid reason how they can “hide the decline” by splicing in the Jason-2 data from mid 2010 and not showing (or deleting) the Jason-1 data.


@Peter Miller:
Scary. Just take a look at what happened to the 2006 spike, which was prominent in the previous version. Now they have “adjusted” it down for some reason. A tried and tested trick.


Maybe someone with competence could print the two graphs in the same grid, so we can see what has been done to the data here 🙂


Well it looks like I was wrong in assuming that they are only using Jason-1 data at UC so my previous post was incorrect. Based on the release notes they started adding in Jason-2 data. Wonder why they didn’t change the color of the squares or just add another series of points to the graph instead of averaging them (Im assuming that is what was done)?

Baa Humbug

Very funny Pamela Gray @9:54pm. Speaking from experience?
The data is in, they can’t believe sea levels could possibly fall. The data must be wrong. They’ve commissioned a brand new metre rule and will venture to the beach as soon as the radiation threat from Japan subsides. Elf n safety you know.

Back in the days I used to watch the HADCRUT temperature series (before climategate), there certainly was a correlation between temperature and date of release. I think it was about 1wk early for a 0.1C rise and of course 1wk late for a drop.
It was just all indicative of an organisation that had a completely overwhelmingly biased view on the results … that and the way you’d know a particularly low result was coming out, by the media storm they created to stoke up the commitment of the media to the warming hype … before releasing the fact – very quietly – that it was cooling.


I overlaid the dec 2010 graph from the UC on top of the current one from http://crozon.colorado.edu/ as you suggested and yes indeed it does definitely appear to me as well that the prior data has been adjusted significantly to exaggerate the sea level rise. It looks almost like a linear adjustment to the data points, no adjustment in 1993 and ending with about a 5mm adjustment upward in 2010.

John Marshall

Perhaps they are still reading the previous research you posted which showed that the sea levels for the last 100 years was only 1.7mm/annum, according to the US tide gauges.


@Peter Miller
Thanks for the link.
The new graph seems visually at least quite different to the old one, but I can’t find notes about the changes. (It would be interesting to plot one vs the other). Also, on the new chart, the smoothed line has been below the linear trend for about the last 4 years. Which makes it odd that the new chart has a slope of 3.2 mm/yr and the old has 3.1 mm/yr.
If you look at the calibration page…
… you see that the JASON calibration has recently fallen off a cliff. After years of a small to medium positive calibration, it now has a large negative calibration. How this is measured I’m not clear, nor what consequences it has for the MSL estimation.