Reduce your CO2 footprint by recycling past errors!

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Anthony has pointed out the further inanities of that well-known vanity press, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This time it is Michael Mann (of Hockeystick fame) and company claiming an increase in the rate of sea level rise (complete paper here, by Kemp et al., hereinafter Kemp 2011). A number of commenters have pointed out significant shortcomings in the paper. AMac has noted at ClimateAudit that Mann’s oft-noted mistake of the upside-down Tiljander series lives on in Kemp 2011, thus presumably saving the CO2 required to generate new and unique errors. Steve McIntyre has pointed out that, as is all too common with the mainstream AGW folks and particularly true of anything touched by Michael Mann, the information provided is far, far, far from enough to reproduce their results. Judith Curry is also hosting a discussion of the issues.

I was interested in a couple of problems that haven’t been touched on by other researchers. The first is that you can put together your whiz-bang model that uses a transfer function to relate the “formaminiferal assemblages” to “paleomarsh elevation” (PME) and then subtract the PME from measured sample altitudes to estimate sea levels, as they say they have done. But how do you then verify whether your magic math is any good? The paper claims that

Agreement of geological records with trends in regional and global tide-gauge data (Figs. 2B and 3) validates the salt-marsh proxy approach and justifies its application to older sediments. Despite differences in accumulation history and being more than 100 km apart, Sand Point and Tump Point recorded near identical RSL variations.

Hmmm, sez I … so I digitized the recent data in their Figure 2B. This was hard to do, because the authors have hidden part of the data in their graph through their use of solid blocks to indicate errors, rather than whiskers as are commonly used. This makes it hard to see what they actually found. However, their results can be determined by careful measurement and digitization. Figure 1 shows those results, along with observations from the two nearest long-term tidal gauges and the TOPEX satellite record for the area.

Figure 1. The sea-level results from Kemp 2011, along with the nearest long-term tide gauge records (Wilmington and Hampton Roads) and the TOPEX  satellite sea level records for that area. Blue and orange transparent bands indicate the uncertainties in the Kemp 2011 results. Their uncertainties are shown for both the sea level and the year. SOURCES: Wilmington, Hampton Roads, TOPEX

My conclusions from this are a bit different from theirs.

The first conclusion is that as is not uncommon with sea level records, nearby tide gauges give very different changes in sea level. In this case, the Wilmington rise is 2.0 mm per year, while the Hampton Roads rise is more than twice that, 4.5 mm per year. In addition, the much shorter satellite records show only half a mm per year average rise for the last twenty years.

As a result, the claim that the “agreement” of the two Kemp 2011 reconstructions are “validated” by the tidal records is meaningless, because we don’t have observations accurate enough to validate anything. We don’t have good observations to compare with their results, so virtually any reconstruction could be claimed to be “validated” by the nearby tidal gauges. In addition, since the Tump Point sea level rise is nearly 50% larger than the Sand Point rise, how can the two be described as “near identical”?

As I mentioned above, there is a second issue with the paper that has received little attention. This is the nature of the area where the study was done. It is all flatland river delta, with rivers that have created low-lying sedimentary islands and constantly changing border islands, and swirling currents and variable conditions. Figure 2 shows what the turf looks like from the seaward side:

Figure 2. Location of the study areas (Tump Point and Sand Point, purple) for the Kemp 2011 sea level study. Location of the nearest long-term tidal gauges (Wilmington and Hampton Roads) are shown by yellow pushpins.

Why is this important? It is critical because these kinds of river mouth areas are never stable. Islands change, rivers cut new channels, currents shift their locations, sand bars are created and eaten away. Figure 3 shows the currents near Tump Point:

Figure 3. Eddying currents around Tump Point. Note how they are currently eroding the island, leading to channels eaten back into the land.

Now, given the obviously sedimentary nature of the Tump Point area, and the changing, swirling nature of the currents … what are the odds that the ocean conditions (average temperature, salinity, sedimentation rate, turbidity, etc.) are the same now at Tump Point as they were a thousand years ago?

And since the temperature and salinity and turbidity and mineral content a thousand years ago may very well have been significantly different from their current values, wouldn’t the “formaminiferal assemblages” have also been different then regardless of any changes in sea level?

Because for the foraminifera proxy to be valid over time, we have to be able to say that the only change that might affect the “foraminiferal assemblages” is the sea level … and given the geology of the study area, we can almost guarantee that is not true.

So those are my issues with the paper, that there are no accurate observations to compare with their reconstruction, and that important local marine variables undoubtedly have changed in the last thousand years. Of course, those are in addition to the problems discussed by others, involving the irreproducibility due to the lack of data and code … and the use of the Tiljander upside-down datasets … and the claim that we can tell the global sea level rise from a reconstruction in one solitary location … and the shabby pal-review by PNAS … and the use of the Mann 2008 temperature reconstruction … and …

In short, I fear all we have is another pathetic attempt by Michael Mann, Stefan Rahmstorf, and others to shore up their pathetic claims, even to the point of repeating their exact same previous pathetic mistakes … and folks wonder why we don’t trust mainstream AGW scientists?

Because they keep trying, over and over, to pass off this kind of high-school-level investigation as though it were real science.

My advice to the authors? Same advice my high school science teacher drilled into our heads, to show our work. PUBLISH YOUR CODE AND DATA, FOOLS! Have you been asleep for the last couple years? These days nobody will believe you unless your work is replicable, and you just look stupid for trying this same ‘I won’t mention the code and data, maybe nobody will notice’ trick again and again. You can do all the hand-waving you want about your “extended semiempirical modeling approach”, but until you publish the data and the code for that approach and for the other parts of your method, along with the observational data used to validate your approach, your credibility will be zero and folks will just point and laugh.

w.

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Pete H

The troubling thing Willis is that they are using tax payers money for their garbage and we no longer see the funny side of their jokes!

Willis Eschenbach

Pete H says:
June 23, 2011 at 1:38 am

The troubling thing Willis is that they are using tax payers money for their garbage and we no longer see the funny side of their jokes!

Yes, I know that … but I just find their endless gyrations, doing the same kind of foolishness again and again, to be endlessly entertaining. It’s like the climate Cirque de Soleil, where you can get amazed by their contortions to avoid actually describing and documenting what they are doing. – w.

Jack

Prof. Eschenbach,
that is not a ‘post-normal’ tone. Well done, and it is about time.

Lew Skannen

Beautifully stated. Thanks Willis.
I must say that I am baffled that such transparent garbage can be swallowed by so many without the slightest application of scepticism or critical analysis.
The mainstream seem to have been absolutely cowed and no longer even dare to question any of these wild claims. Presumably lest they be deemed ‘sceptics’.
These shysters spew out garbage which is immediately picked up and run with by the compliant media. When their theories have been shot full of holes it doesn’t matter because noone pays any attention to the debunking a few weeks (or even days) later.
At the moment that pathetic “97% of scientists” meme is still being reported as fact all over the net, NPR, various parliaments etc.
These things are harder to eradicate than anthrax spores.

Alex

How did they select the sites? I suspect they did some serious cherry picking during site selection.

David Falkner

Oh yeah? Well I have noticed a severe uptick in hydrological erosion around Devil’s Lake.

Willis Eschenbach

Lew Skannen says:
June 23, 2011 at 1:43 am

… When their theories have been shot full of holes it doesn’t matter because noone pays any attention to the debunking a few weeks (or even days) later. …

I couldn’t disagree more. Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts and a host of other bloggers have had a huge effect on the ongoing discussion. My own writings have not been without effect. So I reject your claim that “it doesn’t matter” that we have worked to explain the problems with the peer-reviewed science. Thinking people are always willing to increase their understanding and knowledge of the climate issues.
So yes, the constant bombardment of “science by press release” does have an effect … but in the end, the truth will out. Science is funny that way. Untrue ideas eventually crumble. So holding publicly important science to the scientific method, and noting when it does not conform to scientific norms, is a valuable thing no matter whether it happens early or late.
w.

Willis, hilarious indeed. I’m not certain Mann and his group have a gnat’s understanding of barrier island/delta geology and process, let alone their own lax method. As soon as I saw the Google Earth view I just shook my head. Two data points? On a shifting barrier coastline? Do any of these people have a clue? A third-year sedimentology undergrad with a mild interest in paleobathymetry can see that this is flawed. And coupled with the recent Rolling Stone blatherings from the Goru himself, the timing couldn’t be better.
This is as blatant a display of blindered agenda-serving cherry-pick as could be mustered, and proof that the peers are just as blind for letting it pass. Or maybe they’ve done it on purpose? one can only hope.

Orkneygal

Mr. Eschenbach, for what it is worth, the battlefield dispatches you file from the Battle Field of CAGW matter greatly to me. Please don’t stop.

Julian Williams in Wales

“”My advice to the authors? Same advice my high school science teacher drilled into our heads, to show our work. PUBLISH YOUR CODE AND DATA, FOOLS! Have you been asleep for the last couple years? These days nobody will believe you unless your work is replicable, and you just look stupid for trying this same ‘I won’t mention the code and data, maybe nobody will notice’ trick again and again. You can do all the hand-waving you want about your “extended semiempirical modeling approach”, but until you publish the data and the code for that approach and for the other parts of your method, along with the observational data used to validate your approach, your credibility will be zero and folks will just point and laugh.””
UNLESS YOU ARE THE IPCC OR SOME OTHER AGW INTERST GROUP WRITING PRESS RELEASES FOR THE HACKS TO VOMIT INTO THE PUBLIC ARENA.

John Marshall

Your point on the salinity etc of the seas thousands of years ago might be different from today is an assumption. In Oceanography there is an assumption that the seas salinity and basic chemical composition has been constant for millions of years. I find this a hard nut to swallow given that rivers transport more chemical constituents daily into the oceans. due to chemical weathering alone.
Back to the paper:- This study was done in an area of coastal sinking so relative sea levels would increase by large, relative, numbers. Also along this coast the sinking would be irregular so giving differing sea level changes over time.
So not a good area for sea level studies especially if tectonic influences are ignored.

Bloke down the pub

Willis Eschenbach says:
June 23, 2011 at 2:06 am
Thinking people are always willing to increase their understanding and knowledge of the climate issues. ‘
The willingness of the vast majority of the population to accept the bull spread by the MSM would indicate that ‘Thinking people’ are always going to be in a minority.

Ross

I find it amazing that anyone can believe in an organization that can publish data in one report clearly showing the MWP and Little Ice Age and subsequently re-write history with Mann’s fraudulent hockey stick. George Orwell would be preparing to sue for their theft of his intellectual property.
I am even more amazed that the same organization can get away with publishing the ludicrous assertion of “perpetual motion” contained in that other travesty – Earth’s Annual Global Energy Budget – the ridiculous diagram showing that both the Earth’s radiation and “Back Radiation” from “Greenhouse Gases” are greater than the incoming solar radiation – how is that accepted as “science” – it is rubbish.
What is the average temperature of the earth and how meaningful is it. Minus 80 in Antarctic records to plus 50 or more – how does a so called average “blackbody” temperature of minus 18 or an average “greenhouse” temperature of plus 15 represent real life in any shape or form ??
it is all nonsense.

trevorcooperoper

This is probably a silly question, in which case my apologies.
In the Mann paper, why does the sea-level rise start accelerating in the late nineteenth-century, well before AGW is meant to have had any impact?

John Silver

Why is the satellite (red) curve grafted at the top of the others?
Surely the satellite numbers are relative and only relates to themselves.
The satellite curve could be placed anywhere vertically in the graph but actually do not belong there at all.

Jeroen B.

It’s like the climate Cirque de Soleil, where you can get amazed by their contortions to avoid actually describing and documenting what they are doing. – w.
I hope Josh picks up on that line for an awesome cartoon – because that is brilliant — and SO true.

Slartibartfast

How many more idiots do you suppose will mistake tideline trends for actual sea-level shifts? They’re estimating the sum of subsidence and actual sea level rise, and attributing the entire trend to sea level rise.
Also: are they the last people in the world to discover that the Chesapeake Bay area is subsiding in a sustained fashion?

Bill Jamison

I just read recently about some of the underwater artifacts found in Alexandria Egypt. Apparently some dating from ~300BC were found under 5 to 8 meters of water.
The report mention subsidence and rising sea levels as the cause. If I’m reading the chart from Mann’s study correctly global sea level has only risen about 0.4M in the last 2000 years though. So either there’s a helluva lot of subsidence going on or sea level in Alexandria has risen a few orders of magnitude more than reported in the Mann paper.
I wonder which it could be???

Slartibartfast

Possibly even accelerating.

Alicia Frost

Warning don’t vote for Huntsman!
http://www.verumserum.com/?p=26023
It seems he’s 100% AGW check it first though….

Lawrie Ayres

In Australia we have a chief Scientist and Climate Change Commissioners, all selling the government line, all decrying the fact that some sceptical scientists are being heard. We are all supposed to be good little boys and girls and just accept what the wise people tell us. They rely on people like Mann and Hansen for the truth. As scientists they are dead but refuse to lay down. It will take a prolonged ice age to shut them down and even then some will claim CO2 caused it. Some want to gas us (Jill Singer) some want to brand us (Richard Fidler) and all want us to shut up. Science at it’s best.

The C Team caught on Video.
http://youtu.be/xEGhXZnI07o
(Sorry Willis, this just needs more exposure).
REPLY: Yes, yes it does – Anthony

Dagfinn

Inspired by Craig Loehle’s “time travel” post, I’ve raised this point at Judith Curry’s blog: the sharp sea level rise appears to predate the AGW era.
http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/22/sea-level-hockey-stick/#comment-78887
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/16/time-travel-and-causation-in-the-climate-debate/

Willis Eschenbach

John Marshall says:
June 23, 2011 at 2:31 am

Your point on the salinity etc of the seas thousands of years ago might be different from today is an assumption. In Oceanography there is an assumption that the seas salinity and basic chemical composition has been constant for millions of years. I find this a hard nut to swallow given that rivers transport more chemical constituents daily into the oceans. due to chemical weathering alone.

While this is true of the open ocean, inshore of the barrier islands the salinity varies with the influx and direction of fresh water from the rivers. So it is not an assumption that salinity etc differ from point to point in such a semi-enclosed area.
w.

Willis Eschenbach

trevorcooperoper says:
June 23, 2011 at 2:38 am

This is probably a silly question, in which case my apologies.
In the Mann paper, why does the sea-level rise start accelerating in the late nineteenth-century, well before AGW is meant to have had any impact?

The only silly question is the one you don’t ask. Kemp et al. (as far as I know) don’t mention CO2 at all.
w.

Dagfinn

trevorcooperoper, I see that you’re asking the same “silly question”. I see no convincing answers so far.

Willis Eschenbach

John Silver says:
June 23, 2011 at 2:41 am

Why is the satellite (red) curve grafted at the top of the others?

It’s no more “grafted” than any of the other datasets. It is simply included.

Surely the satellite numbers are relative and only relates to themselves.
The satellite curve could be placed anywhere vertically in the graph but actually do not belong there at all.

I don’t understand why the satellite data is “relative and only relates to themselves”. The satellite data actually agrees rather well with the tidal gauge data over the common period (1992-2011). It is included because it is another source of information about the sea level changes in the region.
w.

Dagfinn

Willis says:
“Kemp et al. (as far as I know) don’t mention CO2 at all.”
Does that mean they have no physical explanation for their findings?

Bloke down the pub

Bill Jamison says:
June 23, 2011 at 2:49 am
I just read recently about some of the underwater artifacts found in Alexandria Egypt. Apparently some dating from ~300BC were found under 5 to 8 meters of water.
The report mention subsidence and rising sea levels as the cause. If I’m reading the chart from Mann’s study correctly global sea level has only risen about 0.4M in the last 2000 years though. So either there’s a helluva lot of subsidence going on or sea level in Alexandria has risen a few orders of magnitude more than reported in the Mann paper.
I wonder which it could be???
The African techtonic plate is moving north at a fair old rate and is being subducted under Europe. As it does so it buckles upwards for a while [for example when the old port of Alexandria was built] but then subsides again when an earthquake relieves the pressure. This results in large parts of the area now being several fathoms below sea level.

charles nelson

Dear Moderator, sorry to butt in…
[reply] take it to tips and notes please. TB-mod

Julian Williams in Wales

Having posted the above I have just read your response to Lew Skannen. I agree with you, the press releases only delay your truth emerging. The delays caused by the presss releases will be years rather than weeks.
Actually your work does work on all sorts of levels and is very effective. I am not a scientist, but when I recieved a round robin email from an artsy friend that used the “denier” word I was down on his head like a ton of bricks. I was able to dominate in the discussion that followed because of what I have learnt fro WUWT.
But it is frustrating and there will be no easy reversing of the misinformation already in the media and lapped up by the political classes. We are into pure politics on this issue. Politics and the media are really docile about reversing mistakes. An example is the present Euro crisis, ten years ago when they set up the Euro it was obvious that small countries like Greece would be made bankrupt by the monetry union. At the time the opponents had a really good slogan “One size does not fit all” but the project went ahead. For ten years they have told us the monetry union was working, when it was not. Only in the last few weeks has the penny dropped, and suddenly all the arguments we made ten years ago are suddenly accepted in the press as common sense.
I fear that the AGW wrecking machine is unstoppable, it has too much momentum. We can slow it down. Reduce the damage it does, but it will only be defeated when disaster is staring the politcians in their faces.

Gorgias

Aren’t they measuring the recession of the barrier island instead of a rising sea level. As the currents and wave action wash away the island over time, the Island waches away and the water necessarily gets deeper. This is not evidence of a rising sea level its evidence of tidal actions.

Hector Pascal

Does anyone have data (seismic?) on depth to basement for these sites? Any sediment pile will be subject to compaction, that’s what sediments do.
Sea level data from the Mediterranean are dominated by basin tectonics. They tell us nothing about global sea level, only local movement.

thingadonta

Sea level proxy reconstruction in a river delta? Are you kidding? Obviously these guys aren’t earth scientists. Probsably just mathematicians who never saw the outside of an estuarine inlet, a ria, or a prograding coastline.

Colin Porter

Is it not about time that pressure was put on the Journals by good men like yourself, for allowing rubbish like this to get through the Peer Review process? There would certainly be a massive outcry from the other side if a skeptic paper so much as made a grammatical error, or even worse, that ultimate sin of plagiarism.

Ex-Wx Forecaster

I think the most disturbing things to me, are how the mainstream media will simply repeat the claims of Mann, et. al., while Al Gore and acolytes will pronounce once more how the AGW science is settled. All the while, any critics will be lambasted for being ‘anti-science’.

Alexander K

Lovely deconstruction, Willis.
I can still remember the feel and the sound of the whack on my head that went with Ole Wally, our Standard Two teacher shouting “Show your workings, Boy!”

Jeff Wilson

Excellent work – several folks make the observation of subsidence, basin tectonic, relative movement, etc. Variable isostatic compensation due to the likely variable loading/unloading of continental mass (rivers carrying mass toward to near shore environment/erosion and sediment transport from ocean currents moving mass away from the near shore environment) are easily on the order of several mm/year. Even if all the other paleo-estimates were valid, it would be painstakingly difficult to account for the isostatic compensation and then its back to the classic reference frame (chicken or the egg) argument – is the ocean rising or is the land sinking?

John Marshall says:
June 23, 2011 at 2:31 am

Your point on the salinity etc of the seas thousands of years ago might be different from today is an assumption. In Oceanography there is an assumption that the seas salinity and basic chemical composition has been constant for millions of years.

Assumption? Perhaps someone should research that. I’d look at erosional sites adding ions and salt pans and salt domes as removing ions. Do you have references that this has never been studied? Yes, I’m aware it’s difficult to prove a negative, I’m just looking for an out because I don’t have time this morning to disprove your claim.
Even today, oceanographers and other scientists point to differences in salinity in the “open” ocean. Bill Gray has spent decades nattering about the Thermohaline circulation, others wring their hands about Gulf Stream salinity declining and interfering with Gulf stream waters sinking as it approaches the Arctic.
Nils-Axel Moerner points to salinity differences (and wind and water currents) as part of his research into why different areas of the planet have different sea levels over time.

chris y

Following Trenberth’s logic, it is time to state the obvious.
Given the demonstrated shoddy science in Mann’s many publications is “unequivocal”, the null hypothesis should now be reversed, thereby placing the burden of proof on showing that there is some, any, merit in a paper co-authored by Mann.
The null hypothesis is that a paper co-authored by Mann, as so eloquently phrased by operatic whiz John Henry Lung, has more errors in it than an early Mets game.

Willis, the caption for your figure 1 should read “nearest long-term tide gauge records” instead of “nearest long-term satellite records”.
[REPLY: Thanks, fixed. – w.]

Beth Cooper

River mouth science. Turtles all the way down.

Willis,
Great job! I knew someone would look more closely at this approach to see if it was valid. You have to be skeptical if Michael Mann’s name is on the paper.

henrythethird

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Mann had done an earlier study on Atlantic hurricanes.
He must not have paid attention to this area, because using NOAA data shows that, since 1861, ther have been at least 13 tropical systems that came within 5 nautical miles of Tump point (http://csc.noaa.gov/hurricanes/#).
For an example, Dennis of 1981, a cat 1, went directly over that point.
So I’m sure that must have stirred things up a bit…

Lew Skannen

Just to clarify, I could have phrased it better…
It obviously DOES matter that these things are pulled apart but my original point was that the MSM do not seem to care or even notice that theories they are running with have already been shot full of holes.
As you say the truth will eventually come out but it still baffles me how so much of it already out there can be so wilfully ignored.

Dave Springer

Great post Willis.
To another commenter the great alleged upswing in sea level rate of rise in late 19th century begs an explanation.
First one needs to understand that whatever marginal land surface warming from anthropogenic CO2 has been more or less linear since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the late 18th century. This is because of the confluence of two factors. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have been rising exponentially for over 200 years. Coincidentally the warming effect of CO2 decreases exponentially as concentration rises. Putting those together means there’s been a linear increase in surface temperature due to it.
So the very rapid quadrupling of sea level rise claimed by the authors in the late 19th century is not at all explained by anthropogenic CO2. Whatever slight land surface warming it engenders should be a pretty constant slope for the past 200+ years.
For the sake of argument lets say the quadrupling was real on this small segment of the northeastern US coastline. If not “global warming” then what was it? Given the pace of industrial growth in that particular region I’m betting it’s local land subsidence. Beginning in the middle 19th century the steam engine was more and more widely employed to pump water out of the ground. The North Carolina coastal aquifer was being drawn down and what naturally follows from that is the land above it sinks a little bit. I would guess this was happening all along the northeastern US seaboard as industry boomed and coastal cities grew dramatically.

Gaylon

IMHO Kemp, Mann, et al should simply state, “Sea-level Rising, yaddy-yaddy-yaw…” It would leave them just as credible and produce more smiling faces on this end.
Question: were there any smiley-face emoticons in Kemp 2011?
Just wondering…
Oh, and BTW I just checked my ruler and 2mm IS almost identical to 4mm: wee small.
(sarc/off)
Palm to forehead…

Geoff Sherrington

Willis Eschenbach says: June 23, 2011 at 3:27 am John Silver says:June 23, 2011 at 2:41 am
Why is the satellite (red) curve grafted at the top of the others?
Willis, I think the question is, what datum is used by each method and is there a proof that the datum points are not displaced relative to each other? As it stands, if you merely match the tide mark records with the satellite methods, you might cover the topic of precision, but you do not cover the topic of accuracy (bias). It’s semantic, but somewhat similar to grafting a thermometer record onto a tree ring proxy time sequence. One is dependent on the other for calibration. Yes, I know that rate of change is under discussion, but it would be nice if each method produced an absolute height datum, same time, same place, to see if they were in coincidence. Only with a fixed datum of known variance for each method can one confidently move to the concept of a rate of change with time.
[REPLY: The tidal gauge and satellite records are both aligned to their 2000-2010 average. – w.]

Dave Springer

land subsidence in North Carolina continued:
I checked on the history of agriculture in North Carolina here
http://www.historync.org/agriculture.htm
Between 1850 and 1900 the number of farms in North Carolina quadrupled from about 50,000 to 250,000. Agriculture requires lots of water which is often diverted from rivers to irrigation ditches and/or pumped out of the ground. A consequence of river diversion is a lowered recharge rate for downstream aquifers. In this case that downstream aquifer would be the North Carolina coastal aquifer.
This probably had a greater effect on land subsidence than industrial water use now that I think about it. At any rate the combined effect of industrial and agricultural water use almost certainly accounts for land subsidence on the coastline. And I would remind the readers here that Mann’s pal reviewed paper in question ignored any possible localized land subsidence.

Craig Loehle

Some years ago I visitied Hunting Island on the Georgia coast. In the central part of the island, the beach had stumps–trees that had been both drowned and buried and were now washing out of the sand. At the north end, a nice hotel built on the beach was, after a single strong storm, now sitting nearly 1000 feet from the beach and the island had extended northward as well by the same amount. In addition, waves wash sand up on the beach, and the constant wind then blows it inland, sometimes creating high dunes. Barrier islands are all like this. In other locations, wave action could erode a coastal area and lower a tidal location even if both land and sea remain exactly the same. They also have assumed that there is no land movement (up or down) at this location at all. The simple inference in this paper makes no sense at all.

Dave Springer

I see a couple other people mentioned subsidence as well although none dug into why it might have seen a dramatic rise on the eastern US coastline in the latter half of the 19th century.
I didn’t know it but in some cases subsidence caused by aquifer depletion can be extreme. Lots of good reading can be found by clicking below:
http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GGLL_enUS382US382&q=subsidence+aquifer+
Mann and his cohorts should have their PhD’s revoked along with the clowns who did the peer review on this bit of junk science. If some amateur citizen scientists can quickly discover that land subsidence due to aquifer depletion is the root cause of the drastic 19th century upswing in rate of sea level rise these so-called credentialed academics should have spotted it even sooner.