Quantifying Sea Level Fall

Guest post by David Archibald

The background to this is that, in 2009, evil environmentalists in the New South Wales Government made a regulation that councils in that state would have to base their building permits on an expected sea level rise of 900 mm by 2100. This had the effect of wiping billions of dollars off the value of coastal properties, as well as ruining peoples’ lives etc. By comparison, sea level rose 200 mm in the 20th Century.

The NSW Govt. regulation was gleefully enforced by Lake Macquarie Council to the detriment of its residents. Lake Macquarie is 140 km north of Sydney. In response, a local property developer, Mr Jeff McCloy, organised a public meeting at which Professor Ian Plimer, Professor Bob Carter and myself spoke. 400 people attended on four days’ notice. The subject of the public meeting was sea level rise.

Before we go on to the oceans, let’s start with a smaller body of water first – Lake Victoria in East Africa. It was known back in the 1920s that the level of Lake Victoria went up and down with the solar cycle. This is the data on the level of Lake Victoria from 1896 to 2005:


The relationship with solar activity broke down in the 1930’s and resumed in the 1970’s. There was also a very rapid rise in the 1960’s. Taking out the period of the solar relationship breakdown and detrending the data from 1968, this is what the relationship looks like (data courtesy of Dr Peter Mason):



There is no doubt about the relationship between solar activity and the level of Lake Victoria, which also means that East Africa has about 30 years of drought ahead of it based on what is going to happen to solar activity.

Some may remember this post from 2009: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/07/archibald-on-sea-level-rise-and-solar-cycles/

which contained this graph:


That has now been updated as:


The good correlation between sea level rise and solar activity is evident. What is very interesting is that during four solar minima over the 20th Century, sea level fell during those minima. That means that during prolonged low solar activity, sea level can be expected to continue falling. That relationship is quantified in this graph:


Using the period of best fit from 1948 to 1987, the relationship between solar activity and sea level is found to be 0.045 mm per unit of sunspot number. The threshold between rising and falling seal level is a sunspot amplitude of 40. Below 40, sea level falls. Above that, it rises. We can now combine that with Livingston and Penn’s estimate of Solar Cycle 25 amplitude of 7 to derive this graph of seal level rise from 1870 with a projection to 2040:


Sea level has a few more mm of rise to the maximum of Solar Cycle 24 in 2013 and then will fall 40 mm to 2040 taking us back to levels of the early 1990s.

Now back to the subject of Lake Macquarie: the nearest high quality sea level data is from Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour. This is the record from 1915 to 2009:


The rise over the 20th Century has been slight, so slight that it can be compared to human hair which on average is 0.1 mm thick. The rise has been an average of 5 human hair widths per annum, with most of that over 60 years ago. Let’s compare that with what the NSW Govt and Lake Macquarie Council are projecting for the 21st Century:


I have called sea level rise the second last refuge of the global warming scoundrel, with ocean acidification being the last refuge. It no longer provides any refuge now that the relationship with solar activity has been quantified.


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Based on the last chart it looks like another hockey stick to me.

A. Opinion

If you have a few decades to wait for a return on your investment, you may want to buy up some of that land whose value has been artificially deflated by these govt. regulations. If the sea level does not rise, the govt. will eventually have to admit they’re wrong, and change the law, at which time the land will increase in value.


The “dying coral reefs” scare has just been knocked on the head, “warming over past 100 years has been good for coral reefs – study finds”
Somebody took the time to actually gather empirical evidence and “whaddayaknow” NO CAGW effect on reefs

Al Gored

Yes. Well. The Lake Macquarie Council has looked at the Sun and found it to be irrelevant.
One wonders if any Council members or their associates have been kind enough to help out the soon-to-be victims by purchasing their properties at a discount, knowing how worthless they will most certainly be. Such acts of supreme generosity and altruism are well known among the “climate concerned community.” They are very special, and very caring.

richard verney

I like the thrust of the article.
However, I wish that scientists on either side of the debate would not use expressions like “There is no doubt about the relationship…” It is far better to use expressions like “The good correlation between…” suggests that it is likely that…’

There are diverse pieces of evidence for a “great climate shift” of 1970. One piece could be in the Lake Victoria levels, but it is in many places. It’s in the land temperature record of Australia.
So, why is the tide gauge record around Australia not showing it, when Lake Victoria is?
Discovering the reason why would provide valuable input into processes, be threy global or regional – or artefacts.

Minister for Truth

No wonder both Combet, the Minister for Climate Change …snort snort… and the raving looney Commisioner for Climate Change Tim Flannery, have in quite recent times bought properties at or near sea level.
Combet near Nobbys Light house in Newcastle and Flannery in Sydney harbour
And they wonder why people have no faith in Goverments


A. Opinion says:
February 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm
If you have a few decades to wait for a return on your investment, you may want to buy up some of that land whose value has been artificially deflated by these govt. regulations. If the sea level does not rise, the govt. will eventually have to admit they’re wrong, and change the law, at which time the land will increase in value.
No, no they won’t. Government never ‘gives’ anything up. I hope you are exhibiting sarcasm.

Surely there must be a possible legal case here – class action of some sort.
Any legal offices reading this, I’d be happy to be a witness in such a case.
Doug Cotton

Arthur Gevart

“seal level”, are you sure?
Thanks for an enlightenig k post and , alas, another depressing news about the usual suspects mischiefs.
arthur gevart , France

Arthur Gevart

as in :”this graph of seal level rise from 1870 “


In California, there is a long history of bureaucracies devaluing private property in order to enlarge public lands. Another trick is to force land acquisitions in exchange for the right to do something requiring a permit on your own property. The poorly defined “stakeholder” interest is one of the regulator’s main tools, a sledgehammer to destroy property rights.

Impressive correlation with little discernable lag until solar cycle 22, where sea level change follows solar activity a few years later. How to square this mostly contemporaneous correlation with the 7 to 15 year lags that many other researchers have found between solar activity and temperature?
Could make sense under the GCR-cloud theory, where solar activity reduces the formation of sun blocking clouds. That would allow more direct solar melting of ice and snow, having a particulary immediate effect on sea level, while temperature effects could somehow take longer to show up.
Immediate melting effects might even explain WHY temperature effects take longer to show up, if the melted snow and ice have the effect of cooling the ocean surface. Freshwater is less dense, correct? So does it spread out on the ocean surface? The question then would be whether it is actually colder than the salt ocean water, which has a lower freezing point, and hence COULD be colder than the melt water in northern climes. Melting glaciers that outflow at lower latitudes would certainly cool the ocean.
Anyone familiar with the relevant details?

Gary Hladik

If a government is worried about excessive sea level rise, it should limit itself to refusing public flood insurance to properties in the affected areas (come to think of it, government has no business in the flood insurance business anyway). If a disaster follows, too bad, no bailout.
Buyers can then decide for themselves whether to take a chance on beachfront property.


I your post you state that the “correlation between sea level rise and solar activity” graph from 2009 has now been updated.
In what way?
Where is the last 11 years of data in the second graph?

J Fischer

Can you describe the physical mechanism by which solar activity causes Lake Victoria’s level to vary? Is the same behaviour seen on other African Great Lakes? What made the hypothesised solar mechanism stop working for 30 years? Why does your supposedly “updated” graph stop in 1999?

tom s

I see Alec made an attempt as to why this happens but has there been any papers written about the ‘why’ of this relationship?

R de Haan

The climate change doctrine will be replaced by “sustinability” and the agenda will continue.
Hang the money wasters (other people’s money) out to dry.


How can you say that “There is no doubt about the relationship between solar activity and the level of Lake Victoria” if you have to cut off almost 40 years of data to get somekind of fit?
Why is the “updated” graph the same as the old graph?
Why no data after 1999 in the updated graph?
As a post this would have been OK if you had just included the last graph and leaving out of that graph your green line “What is likely to happen”. The rest is just BS.


Sea levels have risen in the past, they might rise again. If your house is in a risky zone, you should make other safe investment instead of spending everything in short-term luxuries. There is no economic difference between spending in luxuries and spending to rebuild your house or move it. A rise of 1 meter could generate absolutely no lose if people are aware of it and compensate with other safe investments like an insurance and some placements. Political groups like to interpret economy in the way they want. I you are aware of the risk, it is not a lost. If you pay 10 000$ extra for a car, you are guarantied to lose it within 20 years because cars are not eternal. If you buy a house on the sea side, you have a risk of not loosing it if sea level does not rise.


“If you have a few decades to wait for a return on your investment, you may want to buy up some of that land whose value has been artificially deflated by these govt. regulations. If the sea level does not rise, the govt. will eventually have to admit they’re wrong, and change the law, at which time the land will increase in value”
You’ll doubtless have to take your place at the back of the queue…..with government officials and prominent greens in front of you.


“There is no doubt about the relationship between solar activity and the level of Lake Victoria, which also means that East Africa has about 30 years of drought ahead of it based on what is going to happen to solar activity. ”
Wow this is horrible. Cherry picked, detrended wiggle matching used to prove there’s a sun correlation and then you top it off with complete SWAG on future sun conditions to drive home the catastrophic prediction.
If the prophets of CAGW used this line of reasoning to bolster one of their arguments this website would rightly tear them a new one. BTW my money is on splitting the predicted CAGW sea level rise and the anti-CAGW predicted fall almost dead in between.


You picked the “period of best fit from 1948 to 1987” which is 39 years of data out of 90 years of data. Then you state that “The threshold between rising and falling seal level is a sunspot amplitude of 40. Below 40, sea level falls. Above that, it rises.”
This is complete rubbish. Even your “period of best fit” has eight data points with sunspot numbers below 40 and rising sea levels and seven data points with numbers below 40 and sea levels falling.
With the trend of 3.1 mm/year there would be about 28 cm sea level rise if the trend continues. That is a fact. Whether the trend continues or not nobody knows.


A. Opinion says: “If you have a few decades to wait for a return on your investment, you may want to buy up some of that land whose value has been artificially deflated by these govt. regulations.”
You’re probably too late. Why do you think they drove the price down in the first place?

Actually the last graph would prove the point nicely without the solar connection. Just from looking at the graph and knowing that Nature runs in cycles, the only rational prediction would be a very slight upward trend for the next decade, then slightly down for a few decades. The wild upward line predicted by the government is obviously wrong by any standard. “Straight up forever” is always wrong in Nature.

Keith Minto

It would help the responders if you numbered your graphs.
As others have said, bringing your end dates closer to real time would help your argument.

Evan Thomas

Just a little nitpicking (or is it knit picking). Flannery’s property is not on Sydney Harbour but the Hawkesbury River about 50 north. It is open to the ocean as is Lake Macquarie. Lake Victoria is not I fancy. Is this significant? It’s temporarily stopped raining in soggy Sydney but a large area of northern New South Wales is under (rain)water as is Southern Queensland; that’s three years running for some parts. Our leading climate projectionists (is that a word?) had projected extended droughts and water shortages and recommended desal plants for major cities. Is there a market for second-hand desal plants? Cheers from Downunder.

Markus Fitzhenry.

Ten Billion for a Climate Commissioner, zilch for sanity, Dams.
Those times are a a-changing.

John F. Hultquist

Lake Victoria sits in a dome around which the East African Rift System has progressed. This is one of the most active seismic regions of Earth with inches of spreading and thermal bulging each year. The link below includes this phrase: “one (of) the geologic wonders of the world
Just saying — there might be better places to examine lake levels and sun activity.


According to the University of Colorado data, global sea levels have been actually FALLING since 2009:
This fall would be even more pronounced if it were not for the artificial lift of 0.3 mm that the panic-stricken activist administrators of this dataset added in May 2011. The reason they claimed for this was “a correction of 0.3 mm/year added May, 5th 2011, due to a ‘Glacial Isostatic Adjustment’ (GIA)”. But even this artificial and false leg-up given to the dataset does not change the continuous drop in sea level since mid 2009.

Lokki Farbauti

The relationship with solar activity broke down in the 1930’s and resumed in the 1970’s.
I’m no scientist nor mathematician. Having said that, I don’t care for a graph that has to leave out data just because it doesn’t work. How many times has the Hockey Stick been sneered at because it leaves out an inconvenient truth. Even, or especially if the data from the 30’s through the 70’s doesn’t fit your theory you have to show it…. or you’re open to the same accusations of cooking the graph to make it pretty.
Just say that you don’t know why your theory quit working for 40 years. If that weakens your argument, so be it; at least it’s transparent.

Mac the Knife

Yikes! Two inches rise per century? Oh, the Humanity!!!
How will we ever retreat in time, given that unrelenting onslaught?
/sarc off

James Fosser

Minister for Truth says:
February 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm Dear Minister for Truth. Reference Tim Flannery. Look at your atlas again. It must be several million years out of date because where Mr Flannery bought on the Hawkesbury River is nowhere near Sydney Harbour.

Two comments.
1. The graph after the words “That has now been updated as: ” stops at 1999. The last cycle on the graph appeared to be drifting out of phase. What happens if you update to 2011.
2. Whilst the rate of change appears to vary with sunspot activity the average is greater than zero. You give the r2 value but you don’t give the equation which looks as if it is something like:
rate of rise = 2 mm/yr + a * sunspot_number , where a is a constant.
If this is correct then levels will continue to rise even if sunspot activity dies down.

Latimer Alder

Care to propose a physical mechanism for the apparent correlation with solar activity? And some experiments to prove it?
Because otherwise I am unconvinced.

Markus Fitzhenry.

If this is correct then levels will continue to rise even if sunspot activity dies down.
Did you really say that!
Ron Manley:
February 3, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Reblogged this on Xylance's Blog.

phlogiston, I see from the graph that you supplied that sea level rises to a peak in about October-November each year. I’m curious. Why is it so? A lot of comments here ask for an account of why sea levels vary. So, I set out to investigate.
There is no doubt that the sea rises and falls according to its heat content. It’s thermally driven.
I note that sea surface temperature peaks on a global and northern hemisphere basis in July whereas in the southern hemisphere where the bulk of the ocean resides the peak in surface temperature is in January.
However, sea surface temperature is much influenced by the speed of the wind and is therefore no real guide to the temperature of the waters beneath.
I know that there is a close correspondence between relatively cloud free sky and wind speed, especially south of the equator. The wind depends upon pressure relations. The depression in surface pressure at 60-70°south has a double peak in June and January and troughs in March and October. It is in October that sea surface pressure at 60-70° south reaches a pronounced annual minimum. See the evolution of surface pressure at 60-70° south at
As you can see surface pressure at 60-70° south has fallen as the globe has warmed.
The fall in surface pressure at 60-70°south is in response to the coupling of the stratosphere and the troposphere over Antarctica. Ozone is driven into the troposphere, warms because it absorbs infrared radiation from the surface and is carried towards the equator by the counter westerlies at mid to high altitudes. The phenomenon is described as the Southern Annular Mode of inter-annual climate variation.
It seems reasonable to assert that the great bulk of the southern oceans warm strongly in winter when the subtropical high pressure cells (cloud free skies) expand in part driven by summer heating in the northern hemisphere. At the same time ozone is driven into the troposphere warming the mid and upper levels, drying the air and reducing cloud cover.
The mechanisms and ultimate dependence on solar activity are described at my website. In short, cloud levels in the troposphere depend upon the ozone content of the southern stratosphere.
For interest check out Paul Vaughn’s excellent animation of surface pressure at http://i54.tinypic.com/swg11c.png
This is compiled from the JAL-25 atlas accessible here: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm

Ross .. from Melbourne Australia

I live in Melbourne Australia and had been contemplating moving north because of expected
global cooling . However I am uncertain whether the northern half of Australia will
receive more rain or less . Would somebody bring to the table some logic explaining
which regions of Australia will move towards drought and which towards more rainfall .
With thanks … Ross

Peter Plail

I remain sceptical about what is proposed here. Firstly, I don’t see what Lake Victoria has to do with sea level, as it is mainly driven by precipitation as an input and evaporation as an output. Also if the relationship between the sun’s activities and water level breaks down twice in the timescale shown then there isn’t a relationship.
Similarly, I am dubious about the claim of a relationship between the rate of sea level rise and sunspots, notwithstanding that I can see no difference between the original and “update” graphs. I agree that there are points where they align but many other points where they don’t. Without some explanation of the mechanisms at work which would also explain the points of disparity, then I think using this “correlation” to look into the future is misguided.

See level measurements are of very questionable value and more to do with tectonics than climate. North coast of Adriatic sea (my homeland) is sinking by about 10cm /century, and consequently the roman coastal roads are now submerged.
Even most casual look at any ‘tectonic plates map’ (google the image) will show that many of the plates follow the oceans’ boundaries.. In other cases when they do not there are still movements resulting from the last ice age, e.g. Scotland is going up by about 10cm/ century while south of England is sinking.
Even warmists acknowledge the fact as in here:
Any assessment of the sea level rise, based on the long term coastal gauges, assigned to the global temperature changes could be a bit of nonsense

4 eyes

I’m a cynic. A councillor, like others on the CAGW gravy train, can make a bundle of dough by riding the bad news bandwangon, in this case talking down waterfront property…..No apologies for saying this. Just check in 5 years who owns what.


its not only lake Macquarie council it is Gosford “green” council who told old people in nursing homes and retirement villages that they better move or they will be under water also they changed the building code eg a new house will have to be built on 6ft high piers what a load of Bull dust

Plain Jane

I was raised on Lake Macquarie and one of the ways I checked the evidence on sea level rising was to keep an eye on a water level marker put in decades ago to mark water levels near Fennel Bay bridge, easily seen on the rock platform on the north side of the bridge from the car window. The water level has not changed outside its usual seasonal, weather and tidal influences in the almost 50 years I’ve known it. I asked my aunt who has lived on Lake Macquarie and the ocean beaches nearby how much the water level has changed in the over 90 years she has known it. She said not that she could notice. Our family spent most of their spare time there and caught a lot of their food from there in the depression.
I know this is not “scientific” evidence, but it is observable and testable. So do I believe what my eyes tell me (and my aunt) or do I believe Tim Flannery and the Lake Macquarie City Council?
The council is full of “greenies” or watermelons – definitely red on the inside. And it is not just waterfront properties, also ones with trees on them. They leaped onto the Rio earth summit way back and also the Agenda 21 to, in effect, confiscate land with trees on it. So I was very aware from the 90s of the link with carbon credits, and land confiscation.
The actions of the council are all about the power and the glory, any excuse will do, the environment is great as it covers everything.
Here is another example of the wisdom and reasonableness of the LMCC. Martinsville valley has land grants dating back the 1840’s. It was cleared and used as dairies, market gardens and commercial orchards as late as the 1970’s. Since then the “blockies” (weekenders) have moved in. LMCC zoned it environmental protection after the Rio earth summit, at the encouragement of the State government, from the federal government going to the Rio earth summit and applying the UN Agenda 21 principles, and also Federal Government wanting to meet its carbon quotas at the expense of rural land. Now if you want to put ONE cow on your 40 acres of land you must put in a Development Application. They don’t often police the cows, not unless you have a fight with a neighbour and they complain – but needing a DA to put one cow on 40 acres!! (You don’t need a DA for 2 horses but you do if you want more than 2).
I don’t quite see the connection with Lake Victoria, or even the solar cycles.


Show mr a graph that finishes later than 1999. Tell me why there is a pattern. Show me data from somewhere other than lake victoria, which is not a relevant example.
If this was served up by ss or tamino you would destroy it.


The data indicates sea level correlates with solar magnetic cycle period without lag.
Why? Physically what is causing sea level to increase and decrease? It cannot be temperature as there would be a significant lag as the oceans warm and cool if temperature was driving the change.
The paleoclimatic record shows peculiar increases and decreases of sea level which can correlate with abrupt changes to the solar cycle and the geomagnetic field at “Heinrich events”.. There is a 20 m net change in sea level at the Heinrich events. It has assumed that ice sheet changes was causing the change, however there is an unexplained rise of 10 m in sea level and then fall of 10 m at the Heinrich event.
What we are about to experience is either a Dansgaard-Oeschger event or a Heinrich event. A solar magnetic cycle interruption is the cause of both events.
Based on what has happened before sea level will abruptly fall. The fall in sea will be significantly greater than can be explained by cooling or by mass changes oceans to ice sheets & glaciers.
From Wikipedia:
“Heinrich events are global climate fluctuations which coincide with the destruction of northern hemisphere ice shelves, and the consequent release of a prodigious volume of sea ice and icebergs. The events are rapid: they last around 750 years, and their abrupt onset may occur in mere years (Maslin et al.. 2001). Heinrich events are observed during the last glacial period; the low resolution of the sedimentary record before this point makes it impossible to deduce whether they occurred during other glacial periods in the Earth’s history.
Heinrich events occur during some, but not all, of the periodic cold spells preceding the rapid warming events known as Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) events, which repeat around every 1,500 years. However, difficulties in establishing exact dates cast aspersions on the accuracy—or indeed the veracity—of this statement. Some (Broecker 1994, Bond & Lotti 1995) identify the Younger Dryas event as a Heinrich event, which would make it H0.”


Sea level rise, dying corals, where is this all going? /sarc

A GOVERNMENT-RUN research body has found in an extensive study of corals spanning more than 1000km of Australia’s coastline that the past 110 years of ocean warming has been good for their growth.
The findings undermine blanket predictions that global warming will devastate coral reefs, and add to a growing body of evidence showing corals are more resilient than previously thought, up to a certain point.
The study by the commonwealth-funded Australian Institute of Marine Science, peer-reviewed findings of which are published in the leading journal Science today, examined 27 samples from six locations from the West Australian coast off Geraldton to offshore from Darwin.


Lawrie Ayres

Coastal councils and the State government are covering their respective backsides. They did the same thing with floodplain planning because a few houses along the Georges river (part of Sydney) were flooded after receiving council approval to build. The lazy sods found a height of the previous highest flood and extrapolated across the valley. Many houses which had escaped flooding were deemed to have been flooded with serious financial consequences. In the case of AGW sea level rise it is another example of how fraudulent science adversely affects many innocent people. Jail is really too good for some of them.

John Marshall

Yes but what did the council do? Change their minds? I bet they did not.
Pity because the lineup of speakers was top class and the science excellent and persuasive.