An answer to the question about why UC's sea level data has not been updated since mid 2010

Readers may recall my story from April 6th where I asked:

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

As you can see in the graph above, the data has not been updated since mid 2010. I wrote then:

I sent a query from their web page asking why, and hope to hear back soon.

Actually I sent two email queries, one from the web page form, and one to this scientist, listed on the UC sealevel contact page

Dr. R. Steven Nerem

phone: 303.492.6721

fax: 303.492.2825

Over a week passed, hearing nothing. I decided to make a phone call today to Dr. Nerem. Here is what I learned.

First, I give the man points for answering his own phone, a true rarity these days in our voicemailed world.

I explained who I was, why I was calling, and that I had sent emails that had gone unanswered, and asked for an update.

His response was:

“We are updating our web page to a new design, and that is the reason for the delay.”

I replied with: “OK I understand, but the SL data hasn’t been updated since mid 2010, and people are asking questions about it.”

“Well we only update a couple times per year anyway. Sea level changes pretty slowly you know.”

I said: “Yes, but in looking at your previous release schedules, you would have been due for an update in February 2011, and that hasn’t happened. ”

To which he replied:

“This new website design won’t work with our current format, so if you can just be patient and wait a couple of weeks we’ll have it online.”

I thanked him for his time and ended the call.

So there you have it, the reason for a lack of update? Form before function.

Somehow, I don’t think anybody gives rat’s ass about how “prettied up” the web presentation of sea level data is. Just show us the data. I’ll take a table, CSV file, hell even a fax.

So in  “couple of weeks” we’ll see if the wait for the new prettier web page was worth it. Somehow, I think it is going to end up looking a lot like this one with more web bling than substance:

Which ironically, has an even longer delayed update of sea level data:

I shall revisit this story in two weeks time, or upon a web page update of whichever comes first.


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Dave Wendt

Well, you know the numerous problems they’ve all had with communicating the severity of the “crisis” we face. They’ve obviously felt the need to invest some of their publicly provided funding into hiring some expensive consultants to improve the delivery of their message, probably Steven King or Clive Barker.

Al Gored

Perhaps I have become too cynical, or too educated, but I’m guessing that if it shows what the gang want it to show it would have been released already. At least they didn’t do a ‘hottest year’ type announcement in advance… perhaps it is more difficult to ‘adjust’ this data.
Some good news. Saw a photo of Manhattan on the news today and they have somehow managed to hold back the rising floodwaters. Don’t we owe them our eternal gratitude for that?


Suggest saving a copy of the data at the current website, lest it happen to change when moving to the new site.


Whatever they decide the presentation will be, I still think that it would be a good idea to have a blink-comparison between the existing graph and the new graph so that any adjustments of the past recorded historical data are obvious.
Did they not put (and take down) up a couple of ‘new’ graphs the day you first mentioned this? It did not look like a formatting issue with those graphs, just that all of the data seemed to have been altered.
It looked like they were fitting the data to the pre-determined trend line rather then finding the trend line/curves in the data.
We shall wait and see, if they can ‘improve their communication’ of the data with their new web site layout.
Any lack of alarm on the part of the viewer/reader/listener is, as we all know, just the result of poor communication on the part of the climate scientists.


Who would have thought that falling sea levels….
….would have messed up their website
It’s worse than we thought……………………..

Two updates per year. That gives them 6 months to update a “web page”, clearly going to be a fantastic update. Do they need some assistance? I know a few HTML tags.


“Somehow, I don’t think anybody gives rats ass about how “prettied up” the web presentation of sea level data is. Just show us the data. I’ll take a table, CSV file, hell even a fax.”
You forgot to tell him the absolutely urgent reason why you need this data


I’m betting that the re-designed website will use a more “complimentary” aspect ratio, so that the Y-axis appears more vertically enhanced to offset the slowed rate of sea level rise.
Because it’s worse than they thought.


“This new website design won’t work with our current format …”
I do smell something. Changing the data format for another Website appearance, sounds pretty strange. We’ll see.


Sounds like they want a break between the old presentation, which was showing no increase in average level since about 2006, and now!! Wonder what “trick” they are going to use??


Small point: University of Colorado is referred to as “CU” so it’s not confused with the University of California ( which is called “UC”)


Agree that putting style before content is a mistake – many websites make this mistake. I was disappointed by the recent makeover of the Australian Antarctic Division pages – the new live temperature graph for Dome A – – is far less detailed and useful than the previous, which showed the temperatures at various sub-surface levels. They have kept the graph the same for the historic data (2006-present) but they seem to have lost about 6 weeks worth of data in the change over –


Wait a minute, you mean if sea level suddenly started rising by 2 feet a year, we wouldn’t know because of a website revamp??
/not worried


Real reason (speculative): his graduate student was studying for his/her comps, teaching labs, grading papers, etc. and just couldn’t get to the update.

Lars P

Andrew30 says:
April 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm
they “put (and take down) up a couple of ‘new’ graphs”
Spot on Andrew, we saw a chart that stated “removing seasonal variations” which looked different to this one.
This graph above has a trend which looks like a sinusoidal chart close to levelling, ready to go down, the new one will look like a hockey stick pointing to the stars.
Lars the prophet has spoken. I wish I would not be one.

R. Shearer

Ralphie stepped on the barometer or something…go Buffs (CU that is).


They should get Muller on the job.
He could tell us the results, take the credit, and wave his arms around a bit
without even seeing the results

Green Sand

ew-3 says:
April 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm
Suggest saving a copy of the data at the current website, lest it happen to change when moving to the new site.

I already have data changes from one release to another with the present website. Probably good reasons for the changes but I haven’t got there yet. To be fair I have not put too much work into finding out why.

Steve from Rockwood

This is a non-story. If the web-site was devoted to tornado early warning or tsunamis I would be more sympathetic. But sea-level data? I can hardly wait for the new web-site Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Tim Channon

Thank you for raising this subject.
Colorado used to published what is roughly 10 day data every 10 days. Year and more ago they ceased update for increasingly protracted periods, data months late (think it got to 6 months). They also started software version churning, with gross errors in version after version. (nothing whatsoever to do with web associated software)
It may well be they had problems yet this strikes me as odd.
During the above Jason 2 was brought into service, when things became terrible.
That is what they have done.
Another part of this story: quite some time ago I found the dataset is predictive and that says there a shape to the sea level data. This was then found to fit with the older Geosat data and does not disagree with Church & White.
Geosat is ignored ‘because it cannot be right’ sea level is not falling.
For whatever it is worth where I am not entirely happy with it
In the longer term, no idea.
Now go figure.
There should be no surprise in sea level doing something like that because it fits with other data which I assume is known to plenty. I still don’t understand enough to say much, all ongoing.


“Well we only update a couple times per year anyway. Sea level changes pretty slowly you know.”
Tell that to all the stupid politicians in Norway, making urgent disaster plans for rising sea-levels.


I agree with Jaypan. Presentation *should* have very little to do with data format. Sounds fishy. And like Anthony says, just have a button with a link to downloadable file that gets updates twice a year. It can’t get much simpler.

Steamboat Jack

It’s too bad that these “climate scientists” have lost the trust that people had in them. Don’t get me wrong, these people have worked hard to destroy that trust and they deserve not even a shred of trust or respect as a group. So, the automatic reaction you see here is understandable: that their motives are nefarious.
But there is a possibility that one may be honorable. Or have all the honorable ones become outcasts because they are “deniers”?
I guess that this is a rhetorical question:
“Is it possible for an honorable researcher/scientist to be a part of the so called main stream climate science, or would an honorable person stand up against the dishonesty and thus be cast out?”
Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)


Great self indicting blog on cults over at the HuffPo. She gives top ten signs you might be part of a cult…
Is it a Cult? The Top Ten Signs the ‘Group’ You’ve Joined is Not what It Seems
1.The leader and group are always correct and anything the leader does can be justified.
2.Questions, suggestions, or critical inquiry are forbidden.
3.Members incessantly scramble with cramped schedules and activities full of largely meaningless work based on the leader’s agenda
4.Followers are meant to believe that they are never good enough.
5.Required dependency upon the leader and group for even the most basic problem-solving.
6.Reporting on members for disobedient actions or thoughts is mandated and rewarded.
7.Monetary, sexual, or servile labor is expected to gain promotion.
8.The ‘outside’ world — often including family and friends — is presented as rife with impending catastrophe, evil, and temptations.
9.Recruitment of new members is designed to be purposefully upbeat and vague about the actual operations of the leader and group.
10.Former members are shunned and perceived as hostile.


Good grief! Bart comes up with better excuses than this poindexter. Lame.


What about tide gauges?


While we all wait some one fetch me a set of left handed vice-grip plyers.


kuhnkat says: April 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm
“Sounds like they want a break between the old presentation, which was showing no increase in average level since about 2006, and now!! Wonder what “trick” they are going to use??”
I’m guessing we will get a set of graphs, each with no overlap (gaps allowed), each for a period starting with a lower value and ending with a higher value, each the visual same size, each with a different scale for x and y adjusted to present the straight line increase, each on a different page, each combined with mouse over images of the disasters that occured during the time frame. All not ‘linkable’ by WUWT.


Oh, also.
Some one had better check with the next set of insturments that get installed in the global weather data collection aray. Very possible a built in over error is being wired in as we are all consumed with the current published lies.
Build the incline.

Power Grab

To give them the benefit of the doubt, I am inclined to blame the reason for the upgrade project in the first place. In other words, I’m guessing their new web site is being created with development tools that are a significant departure from what their developers had been using. They probably were “forced” to upgrade because their previous tools were not the latest-and-greatest, or they were looking down the barrel of an end-of-support deadline. But I’m guessing the new tools don’t let them work as they did previously. There seems to be a considerable amount of this sort of problem lately! IIRC, there was a news story about how the upgrade in the software that feeds stock price data to the NYSE caused there to be inaccuracies in the price data. That’s gotta hurt! Also, the department I work for is in the final throes of an upgrade that was forced upon us. We did not expect this upgrade to our mission-critical software to be major ordeal – but it has been. The conversion of the data from the old system to the new system had to be done at least 3 times because they did not get it right. Our web-based payment system was down for almost a month, which meant our customers could not do business with us in the normal fashion. There are still lots of things wrong that we had been in the process of fixing with an import utility – but when the software company discovered we were making use of it, they took our access to the tool away. Grrrr!

Dear Anthony,
The CSV files? You mean just the data please? Without all the new formating?
How dare you even ask. What are you, a taxpayer or something?
Now the process is set back another year, because they know you know. I can only imagine the consternation and panic that pervades the numerous CU faculty lounges today. Careers in Academia may will be impacted. Spin, spin, spin is the goal.
The CSV files! Thanks for the chuckle.

If the update of the webpage will allow users to enter ranges of coordinates, such as 0-70N, 80W-0 for the North Atlantic, instead of picking a single spot, it will be a welcome improvement and well worth the wait.

Just a fue questions.
How far can sea level rise?
what is the highest possible level?
If global sea level is rising according to all this charted data, how long before the rise is physically observable in the real world so it can be verified?

Green Sand

Bob Tisdale says:
April 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm
If the update of the webpage will allow users to enter ranges of coordinates, such as 0-70N, 80W-0 for the North Atlantic, instead of picking a single spot, it will be a welcome improvement and well worth the wait.

Bob, being somebody who is just starting on the sea level “learning curve”, could you please explain why is this so important to you.

Anthony, I myself had just decided to revisit sea level trends, only to find you doing the same.
In the Journal of Coastal Research, Houston and Dean had this article published just over a week ago:
Sea-Level Acceleration Based on U.S. Tide Gauges and
Extensions of Previous Global-Gauge Analyses

“Least-squares quadratic analysis of each of the 57 records are performed to quantify accelerations, and 25 gauge records having data spanning from 1930 to 2010 are analyzed. In both cases we obtain small average sea-level decelerations.”

And in their conclusion, this was said:

“It is essential that investigations continue to address why this worldwide-temperature increase has not produced acceleration
of global sea level over the past 100 years, and indeed why global sea level has possibly decelerated for at least the last 80 years.”

I found this article while writing my own article on the subject of sea level predictions.
Maybe this new analyses has something to do with UC dropping the ball on updating their website. Or not.
It will be interesting what UC does provide, once they get their website up and running.

Nullius in Verba

There appears to be some more up-to-date date on the web page here.
Pick ‘Time Series’ and ‘Jason-1’ for an interesting plot that looks to me like it extends into 2011. I defer to the experts here as to exactly what this data is, or means.


Gary suggested:
“Real reason (speculative): his graduate student was studying for his/her comps, teaching labs, grading papers, etc. and just couldn’t get to the update.”
How about his grad student (perhaps called Harry) has left and he hasn’t a clue how to add new values?

Gary Pearse

Hmmm the global tropo temp records (UAH) quit just when temps were in free-fall last Dec and now when sealevel began to level off, this data quits. We’re still getting snow storms across Canada when we’re supposed to be raking our lawns and lookiing for crocuses to pop up. I suggest whatever they come up with WUWT should continue updating the familiar graph.
I hate what this dang science has done to my trusting nature.


kwik says:
April 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm
““Well we only update a couple times per year anyway. Sea level changes pretty slowly you know.”
Tell that to all the stupid politicians in Norway, making urgent disaster plans for rising sea-levels.”
You should stop importing Dutch politicians. 😉

David Y

A few months ago one of your readers put up a great comment to the effect of “They can’t even get an accurate measurement of Mt. Everest, and it’s NOT EVEN MOVING!” (aside from tectonic lift, of course).
Seems to me that like the notion of an accurate global temperature the notion of average global sea level is really an artificial construct (given the chaotically dynamic nature of the ocean). Better to use total physical volume of seawater. Of course, you’d need a perfectly accurate mapping of the sea floor, paired with a synchronized ‘snapshot’ via satellite of surface elevation for some billions or trillions of points on the ocean surface. Oh, and then some 9.0 ocean floor quake would come along and screw it all up for you.
Never mind. Let me know when the water is so high that I should TAKE A STEP OR TWO BACKWARD (the uber-high tech way to deal with it…duh.)
Happy Tax Day. Go have Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (props to Chico, Anthony) and celebrate how well government is spending your money and your grandchildren’s money. Grrrrr.


Takes time to “hide the decline”


Bull shit. The excuse is bullshit.
If I had the money I’d make Thomas Freidman join me in a trip to Tuvalu and make him show me where the sea level is rising……
The warmists are lying.

R James

Good point about saving the old graph. I’ve seen graphs change with Arctic ice data, so I’ve made a point of saving these every couple of months, and have questioned any adjustments. I agree about the web site update – it probably achieves nothing in it’s main purpose – to communicate data. This is not a valid excuse for a delay. I suspect mischief afoot and evil in the air.

Craig from Belvidere

Anthony (if I may call you by your first name),
It would correctly be a, “rat’s ass” rather than a “rats ass.” As my father always said, “Illegitimi non carborundum.” Keep up the fight; we may win or we may lose but at least we didn’t give up.
Reply: The rat is now singular. ~dbs]

Bob Barker

Seems that quite a number of data sources are having problems getting the data out in a timely manner and so many adjustments to data sets seem to be required. “Trust but verify.” How do you do that?

George E. Smith

Well it’s a good thing that UC isn’t responsible for putting out the Tsunami Sea Level Rise data.
Remember the chap who showed up at the observatory one evening, and asked the fellow in charge, if he could have a look at the moon through one of their smaller telescopes.
“Well I’m sorry;” was the reply, “But the moon hasn’t risen yet !”
“Well that’s why I came up here” said the chap, “after it has risen, I can see it without a telescope.”
So maybe after the sea level has risen; we can see it without the crummy tardy UC data.


For those interested in more recent sea level values try here:
Aviso Sea Level

Ranger Rick

Craig from Belvidere
If I can remember my Buddy Hackett, I believe the expression is “illigitimo obeseri non-carborundum” which means “Don’t let the fat bastards grind you down”!
Also – Be careful of data shifts and scale changes from stitched together data. They will try and find some way to spin a decline into more proof of AGW – The fat bastards!

charles nelson

Craig from Belvidere.
If we’re going down that picky punctuation road I may as well point out that
your phrase, “It would correctly be”‘ is a split infinitive; stylistically not good English.
Maybe you are of the Star Trek generation…’To BOLDLY go” etc.
But… don’t let this bastard grind you down!


If I were totally paranoid and cynical, I mean really neurotically suspicious, I would think that the government is waiting for the budget, rife with warm-earther goodies, would get through Congress. If I were such a non-trusting soul, I would think that this delay is orchestrated to temporarily pass over the bad news that, since the oceans have cooled, the oceans have contracted and sea level has fallen. Sort of like the inverse of an October surprise, that after the election, it just disappears.
Not that I am such a cynical person—I’m not at all!