New paper in GRL shows that a 60-year oscillation in the global tide gauge sea level record has been discovered

Results suggest that global mean sea level may also be affected, though not yet fully confirmed.

http://www.agu.org/journals/gl/gl1218/2012GL052885/2012gl052885-op01-tn-350x.jpg

Hot off the heels of an admission by NASA JPL that the satellite derived sea level data is “spurious” due to a lack of a stable reference frame and needs fixing, comes this new paper that suggests we may see a drop in sea level soon.

It is rather at odds with the notion that sea level rise is “accelerating” which is one of the unsupported memes being pushed by warmists and media, now even more so due to the hurricane that wasn’t when it made landfall, Sandy.

I wonder if it came up in discussion today at Dr. Mann’s “breaking news” breakout session?

Key Points

  • The research reveals that there is a 60-year oscillation in the majority of long tide gauge records
  • The signal is consistent in phase and amplitude in many ocean basins
  • This has important implications for quantifying sea level acceleration

Cited by the CU Sea Level Group here.

Is there a 60-year oscillation in global mean sea level?

Don P. Chambers, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Mark A. Merrifield, Department of Oceanography, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
R. Steven Nerem, CIRES, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Abstract

We examine long tide gauge records in every ocean basin to examine whether a quasi 60-year oscillation observed in global mean sea level (GMSL) reconstructions reflects a true global oscillation, or an artifact associated with a small number of gauges. We find that there is a significant oscillation with a period around 60-years in the majority of the tide gauges examined during the 20th Century, and that it appears in every ocean basin. Averaging of tide gauges over regions shows that the phase and amplitude of the fluctuations are similar in the North Atlantic, western North Pacific, and Indian Oceans, while the signal is shifted by 10 years in the western South Pacific. The only sampled region with no apparent 60-year fluctuation is the Central/Eastern North Pacific. The phase of the 60-year oscillation found in the tide gauge records is such that sea level in the North Atlantic, western North Pacific, Indian Ocean, and western South Pacific has been increasing since 1985–1990. Although the tide gauge data are still too limited, both in time and space, to determine conclusively that there is a 60-year oscillation in GMSL, the possibility should be considered when attempting to interpret the acceleration in the rate of global and regional mean sea level rise.

GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L18607, 6 PP., 2012

doi:10.1029/2012GL052885

h/t to Paul Homewood

NOTE: I made a clarification in the title and first sentence not long after initial publishing – Anthony

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Joe

Maybe it’s time someone sent the Team a copy of this?

From paragraph [13] of the paper:
“Some climate model experiments have found that forcing with combinations of external forcing (greenhouse gases, solar variations, volcanic aerosols) cannot reproduce the observed multi decadal variation in surface temperature [Andronova and Schlesinger, 2000], but that a coupled climate model forced with only climatological fluxes and run over 1000 years will reproduce a quasi 60 year oscillation in surface temperature that is related to fluctuations in the thermohaline circulation in the model [Delworth and Mann, 2000]. This suggests the multi decadal oscillation is an internal mode, and not externally forced. Moreover, a coupled model experiment where the Atlantic surface temperatures were forced to correspond to observations resulted in multi decadal surface temperature oscillations throughout the Northern hemisphere, similar to observations [Zhang et al., 2007], again with no external forcings other than climatology.”

Is there a 60-year oscillation in global mean sea level?
No.
But there is 65 year cycle in the world oceans, but most prominently in the North Atlantic. The origin is the Geo-Solar oscillation (sun-Earth) as described by Vukcevic
Extract: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/EarthNV.htm
For 4-5 people who have the access details are on pages 5,6&7

Leo G

Interesting- but it needs at least 3 full cycles to properly verify the frequency domain characteristics of that component of the variation.

Weird, reading the title of the article (” cycle discovered”) i was shocked to find out that the abstract suggests otherwise. … pays to be skeptical.

I am delighted to see that Steven Nerem is a co-author of this paper. Steven Nerem is associated with the Uni of Colorado sea level data http://sealevel.colorado.edu/. At long last, the narrative accompanying one of the “official” sources of climate data makes mention of natural cycles.
Discussion
The Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) is the unrotated, first principal component of six observables measured over the tropical Pacific (see NOAA ESRL MEI, Wolter & Timlin, 1993,1998). To compare the global mean sea level to the MEI time series, we removed the mean, linear trend, and seasonal signals from the 60-day smoothed global mean sea level estimates and normalized each time series by its standard deviation. The normalized values plotted above show a strong correlation between the global mean sea level and the MEI, with the global mean sea level often lagging changes in the MEI.
“.

While we’re on the subject of “cycles” – I have some time-related data on which I want to do a Fourier Transform looking for signs of cycles. I can’t find any (free) software to run on my Windows XP Home Edition PC. Please can someone point me at suitable software.

Brian T

MCKIBBEN DEBATE TONIGHT: Tonight at 7:00 Eastern, Bill McKibben will be debating Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress, on the topic of the benefits vs. hazards of fossil fuels. The debate is being live-streamed online at http://fossilfueldebate.com/

Peter Miller

If the 60 year cycle does prove to be true, then another pillar of climate alarmism will have been well and truly torpedoed.

Steven Mosher says:”Weird, reading the title of the article (” cycle discovered”) i was shocked to find out that the abstract suggests otherwise. … pays to be skeptical.“.
The paper’s abstract says “We find that there is a significant oscillation with a period around 60-years in the majority of the tide gauges examined during the 20th Century, and that it appears in every ocean basin.“. Seems pretty clear to me, in spite of a more cautious finish (“Although the tide gauge data are still too limited, both in time and space, to determine conclusively that there is a 60-year oscillation in GMSL, the possibility should be considered when attempting to interpret the acceleration in the rate of global and regional mean sea level rise. “).

Adolf Balik

It is extremely interesting as the period is the same like with the temperature cycle. I can imagine the heat can be taken more rapidly into ocean deeps in the cold period and kept more on ocean surface in hot period. Nevertheless, my imagination fails facing volume of the water. Where is the water volume hidden and where is the water taken from? Thermal dilatation would not be sufficient I guess. Amount of water in hydrological cycle is also tiny in compare to the ocean.

Werner Brozek

The top graph looks close to the following:
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/akasofu_ipcc.jpg

Birdieshooter

I imagine if taken with Houston and Dean and a few other studies, a pretty strong narrative about what is really going on with sea levels could be developed

Gary Pearse

There we go again- look back 60 years to see what kind of weather we should be expecting at this time. There were big droughts in Texas, wildfires, a very cold NW USA, etc. etc. There was also the worst 6 year period for October hurricanes to hit the east coast – I’m predicting another bolt of these hurricanes starting with Sandy over the next few years-it ain’t CO2 causing it but I’m sure we will be getting this BS. It goes with colder weather, too – the northern jet stream dips down further this early in the season and collides with the late N.American hurricanes.

GlynnMhor

And there’s that 60 year oscillation in global average temperature too, peaking in the early 1940s and early 2000s…

Bill Illis

60 year oscillation again.
So, why can’t the AMO be included as a natural climate cycle when there is clearly some type of oscillation/cycle in global temperatures/sea level (which might not turn out to be 60 years all the time but probably varies some).
I note there is a new paper which updates Foster (Tamino) and Rhamstorf 2011 and extends it back to 1850 and also includes the AMO in its regression. This cuts the FandR 2011 warming rate in half.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/17/new-paper-cuts-recent-anthropogenic-warming-trend-in-half/
Tamino’s response – “The AMO just reflects the temperature.” But here we have another line of evidence indicating there is indeed some type of cycle. And if the AMO just reflects temperature, then what is causing the temperature/sea level to have a 60 year cycle. “Must be something” an objective person would say.

Bill

Mike Jonas,
The abstract says the 60 year cycle is seen in many ocean basins but that:
“Although the tide gauge data are still too limited, both in time and space, to determine conclusively that there is a 60-year oscillation in GMSL, the possibility should be considered when attempting to interpret the acceleration in the rate of global and regional mean sea level rise”.
So Anthony’s headline should not read GMSL, it should say in tide gauge records or in most ocean basins.

Elftone

“Steven Mosher says:
November 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm
Weird, reading the title of the article (” cycle discovered”) i was shocked to find my confirmation bias suggests otherwise.”
There – fixed it for you. It really does pay to be sceptical. Or at least open-minded.

Very interesting–sea level seems to follow the 60-year PDO/AMO 60 year cycles, rising during warm cycles and dropping during cool cycles. It also trashes the notion of ‘accelerating sea level rise’ (which is also not shown in historic sea level curves). I don’t understand how the AGWs can continue to push ‘accelerating sea level rise’ with so much data to the contrary.

Adolf Balik says:
November 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm
Amount of water in hydrological cycle is also tiny in compare to the ocean.

But not in comparison to sea level changes. There is recent evidence that La Ninas cause heavy rain over normally dry areas and these areas ‘capture’ the precipitation resulting in a fall in sea levels.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/sea-level-fall-defies-climate-warnings/story-e6frg6nf-1226483797934
I’m generally sceptical of claimed cycles, because data generally doesn’t go back far enough for high confidence, but 60 years is the period of the PDO.

Eric Webb

Wow, this is interesting Anthony, this is a breath of fresh air amidst the apocalyptic predictions from the AGW crowd and the liberal mainstream media.

65 year period (also found in the AMO) appears to be result of the solar-earth cross-modulation (Svalgaard & Mosher see: vukcevic pages 5, & 6).

I am skeptical. I copied the individual red and blue curves and overlay them one at a time into the future to see when they would be out of sync. Near 2300, they were still offset by the same amount. I was under the impression that AMO and PDO periods are not identical, yet in the top graph, they are.
John M Reynolds

Bill – Anthony has fixed the post’s heading, and yes it does more accurately reflect the paper. We will have to wait and see how it develops from here, but we are already one step further with Uni of Colorado’s “strong correlation between the global mean sea level and the MEI“.
[MEI is the Multivariate ENSO Index]

bee bop

From the last paragraph: “It is important to point out that even if a 60-year oscillation is occurring in GMSL, it is still a small fluctuation about a highly significant rate of rise.”

D Böehm

Holgate documented this oscillation.

D Böehm

They got rid of Envisat when it started showing some inconvenient SL readings. And Holgate07 shows that over the long term, the post-LIA sea level rise is slowly moderating.

Joachim Seifert

The global 60-year cycle is crystallizing more and more in climate science….of course,
the IPCC has no knowledge of a 60-year cycle as climate forcing [does not fit into the
Warmist meme]…. But there must be a cause for it, because the sea level doesn’t go
up and down just for fun …see further up the comments list: It was found that, quote:
””external forcing (1. greenhouse gases, 2.solar variations, 3.volcanic aerosols) cannot””
be the cause, but something else…… the no. 4,, but which?
I bet, its the 3-synodic, 61 year Jup/Sat Scafetta cycle in full action, even capable of lifting
and lowering the sea surface by some millimeters….. Too bad the CO2 is just weak, has
no power to lift the sea level by just one meagre millimeter….JS

John West

Why not CE Pacific? Could the oscillation be some sort of long term tide and CE Pacific be an amphidromic point? Does this not tie in with Scafetta?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/21/scafettas-new-paper-attempts-to-link-climate-cycles-to-planetary-motion/

vukcevic says:
November 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm
65 year period (also found in the AMO) appears to be result of the solar-earth cross-modulation (Svalgaard & Mosher see: vukcevic pages 5, & 6).
Nonsense

RoHa

I’ve looked at the sea from time to time over the last sixty+ years. It sloshes around a bit, but as far as I can tell, it’s been pretty much in the same place all that time.

Where did I hear about a 60-year cycle?
A quasi 60-year oscillation is very clear in all climaic records including the sea leve rise, as already stated in my papers. See also here
Jevrejeva, S., J. C. Moore, A. Grinsted, and P. L. Woodworth (2008),
Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago?, Geophys.
Res. Lett., 35, L08715, doi:10.1029/2008GL033611.
This oscillation is caused by a 60-year solar/astronomical oscillation, as well as the other oscillations observed in climatic records. (of course Leif by using his wrong solar models will deny it, but we can live with it)
See my web-site for additional information about the 60 year oscillations and numerous papers dealing with it are in the references of my paper.
http://people.duke.edu/~ns2002/#astronomical_model

otsar

I wonder how this affects or is affected by ocean currents. Does it modulate the speed of the interoceanic currents, heat transfer rates etc, etc? Or is it the other way around?

D Böehm

Steve Goddard has some good sea level charts:
http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com

Mark T

Mike Jonas: since you want free, the simplest option is Octave. Installers can be found at octave.sourceforge.net. Using Octave is quite simple…
To load and analyze a file containg a floats in binary format, from the command line:
fd = fopen(‘/’, ‘r’);
data = fread(fd, ‘float32’, ‘ieee-le’);
fclose(fd);
fftData = fft(data);
plot(20*log10(abs(fftData)))
Mark

Birdieshooter

Leif and Nicola- proof positive that the science is not settled. Just as it should be. I enjoy both for their contributions.

Mark T

Uh, forgot about tags..
fd = fopen(‘dirname/filename‘, ‘r’);
Mark

Nicola Scafetta says:
November 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm
A quasi 60-year oscillation is very clear in all climaic records including the sea leve rise, as already stated in my papers. See also here
++++++++
what you might consider is that solar energy takes centuries to reach the surface of the sun from the core. Today’s observed solar activity was actually modulated by the orbital harmonics of the solar system centuries ago, affecting the mixing rate. It is this extreme lag that causes the problems in correlating current orbital patterns to solar activity to a level of detail much beyond the basic orbital harmonics.

Birdieshooter says:
November 5, 2012 at 7:06 pm
Leif and Nicola- proof positive that the science is not settled.
+++++++++
though I expect the term “nonsense” is opinion, not science. Unless the laws of physics have been changed to include “belief” as one of the variables. Maybe:
Delta Temp = forcing + error + belief.

ferd berple says:
“what you might consider is that solar energy takes centuries to reach the surface of the sun from the core.”
not really, I am talking about a “perturbation” in the energy output which is synchronized to a wave. Wave perturbations may reach the surface in just a few weeks. Energy moves by g-waves too. This is what matters. Essentially the core expands and contracts, and this movement is felt very fast by all sun.
These issues are explained in my paper.
Scafetta N., 2012. Does the Sun work as a nuclear fusion amplifier of planetary tidal forcing? A proposal for a physical mechanism based on the mass-luminosity relation. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 81-82, 27-40.
DOI: 10.1016/j.jastp.2012.04.002
For example, when your heart beats, you fill the beating immediately in any part of the body, even if the blood moves slowly.

Run-To-...Where?--For--Christ-Sake --- NOOOOOOO!

A bold claim from this paper … yet … ill it is.
I would say that ‘DC’ is desperate; the ‘Tone’ of the paper. Something … missed … something … forgotten … something … LOST. Yes, the instantaneous inertial reference frame of TOPEX/Poseidon cannot be recovered from the telemetry! Thus mapping the Instantaneous Inertial Reference Frame of TOPEX/Poseidon (and Jason 1 and 2 for the matter) to the International Terrestrial Reference Frame is … impossible! A non issue for those who know. 🙂

Nicola Scafetta says:
November 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm
Energy moves by g-waves too. This is what matters. Essentially the core expands and contracts, and this movement is felt very fast by all sun.
No g-modes are trapped in the interior and do not penetrate the convection zone to the surface.

That CE North Pacific / SW Pacific chart has some parts that look like they move in opposition.
I suspect we’ve got the water being “nodal” going down in some places and up in others and where measuring with tide gauges at shore lines is inadequate to capture the 3 D dynamic.
In other words, sampling error.
Satellites now let us measure the whole surface more or less at the same time, so we can see those nodal points, but the record is so much shorter than 60 years that we think them more or less static anomalies and not dynamic wobbles.
That’s what I’d look for, any way. Probably driven by tidal forces and harmonics of them from lunar cycle forcing. The lunar 18 year cycle divided into 60 gives 3.3333 that’s mighty suspicious as a ‘nice round number’… and looks like a harmonic.
Note: Not the 19 year Metonic cycle
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonic_cycle
but the 18 year orbital mechanics cycle from this paper:
http://www.pnas.org/content/97/8/3814.full
that is the Saros Cycle
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saros_cycle

The saros Listeni/ˈsɛərɒs/ is a period of 223 synodic months (approximately 6585.3213 days, or nearly 18 years 11 days), that can be used to predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon. One saros after an eclipse, the Sun, Earth, and Moon return to approximately the same relative geometry, and a nearly identical eclipse will occur, in what is referred to as an eclipse cycle. A sar is one half of a saros.
A series of eclipses that are separated by one saros is called a saros series.

This animation shows the lunar track wandering over the earth as Soros cycles come and go in an even longer supercycle.comment image
The moon has complex motions that will change the tidal forces and interact with where the water goes on both shorter and longer cycles.

As an example of a single saros series, the accompanying table gives the dates of some of the 72 lunar eclipses for saros series 131. This eclipse series began in AD 1427 with a partial eclipse at the southern edge of the Earth’s shadow when the Moon was close to its descending node. Each successive saros, the Moon’s orbital path is shifted northward with respect to the Earth’s shadow, with the first total eclipse occurring in 1950. For the following 252 years, total eclipses occur, with the central eclipse being predicted to occur in 2078. The first partial eclipse after this is predicted to occur in the year 2220, and the final partial eclipse of the series will occur in 2707. The total lifetime of the lunar saros series 131 is 1280 years.

So first place I’d look is to the tides, but not just the monthly, nor even the yearly cycles, but out to include the longer cycles as well.
Then look at harmonic frequencies of the ocean basins and see if there is any harmonic node likely.
Might be nothing, but that’s where I’d look first.

Don K

OK, fine 60 years. And where is all that water going? Are the oceans cooling and warming on a 60 year cycle (thermal expansion/contraction)? Are the Antarctic/Greenland icecaps growing and waning on a 60 year cycle. Is the water piling up in places where there are no tidal gauges then flowing back? It HAS to be going somewhere?

Neil Jordan

An oceanic cycle from 50 to 70 years is reported in UN FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 440
Klyashtorin, L.B.
Climate change and long-term fluctuations of commercial catches: the possibility of forecasting.
FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 410. Rome, FAO. 2001. 86p.
From the abstract:
“Spectral analysis of the time series of dT, ACI and Length Of Day (LOD) estimated from direct observations (110-150 years) showed a clear 55-65 year periodicity. Spectral analysis of the reconstructed time series of the air surface temperatures for the last 1500 years suggested the similar (55-60 year) periodicity. Analysis of 1600 years long reconstructed time series of sardine and anchovy biomass in Californian upwelling also revealed a regular 50-70 years fluctuation. Spectral analysis of the catch statistics of main commercial species for the last 50-100 years also showed cyclical fluctuations of about 55-years.”
PDF available at this location:
ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/005/y2787e/y2787e00.pdf

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

From Mike Jonas on November 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm:

While we’re on the subject of “cycles” – I have some time-related data on which I want to do a Fourier Transform looking for signs of cycles. I can’t find any (free) software to run on my Windows XP Home Edition PC. Please can someone point me at suitable software.

Searches keep leading to FFTW.org as a mother source.

FFTW is a C subroutine library for computing the discrete Fourier transform (DFT) in one or more dimensions, of arbitrary input size, and of both real and complex data (as well as of even/odd data, i.e. the discrete cosine/sine transforms or DCT/DST). We believe that FFTW, which is free software, should become the FFT library of choice for most applications.

Developed at MIT, stands for “Fastest Fourier Transform in the West”.
At the bottom of the Download page is a self-identified as out-of-date list of free programs using FFTW, from Octave to a GIMP plug-in for images to a guitar tuning app. Above are wrappers for calling FFTW from other languages. Above that are the Windows binaries, 32 and 64 bit.
I’d say it’s worth trying, and easily worth the price.

Bart

Leif Svalgaard says:
November 5, 2012 at 2:47 pm
Good cite. This is essentially what I have been saying for a long time in WUWT comments. The ~60-65 year quasi-cycle is very likely due to an internal mode for which the eigenstate has components of temperature, sea level, and other climate related variables. A lightly damped mode does not need a coherent external forcing to make it ring, so those looking for coherent astronomical forcings are very likely barking up the wrong tree. Such oscillatory modes arise in natural systems due to energy storage and transmission delays. They are ubiquitous.
E.M.Smith says:
November 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm
Good comment, and important to keep in mind.

Leif Svalgaard says:
November 5, 2012 at 5:36 pm
Nonsense
Hi doc.
I am sure you could do better, if you had valid reason.
The ‘60 year cycle’ (accurate AMO spectrum actually shows just under 65 year cycle), is not a fundamental natural cycle either from the sun or planetary orbital configuration, but it is a product of cross-modulation between solar magnetic (Hale) cycle and a ripple on the earth’s magnetic field originating in the Earth’s liquid core.
Here is screen shot of the article I wrote some months ago
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/GSOc.htm

Dario from NW Italy

When I was at University, back in the late ’80s, I remember a professor of mine (an old geologist with almost 40 years of experience) explaining a theory that correlated sea level changes to the rate of sea floor spreading at the middle oceanic ridges: when the rate of spreading is higher, the ridges will “bulge” increasing their volume, ando so displacing a larger mass of water (and, of course, releasing more heat to the oceans…).
If we think at the correlation between El Nino and volcanic/tectonic/seismic activity on the ocean floor, first proposed by Winkler back in 1995-97 and by others since then (mainly from the “Surge tectonics” school), we can suppose a 60 year cycle in the Eart’s “engine”….
As cited by Leif at the start of this discussion, “the multi decadal oscillation is an INTERNAL mode, and not externally forced”….
Just my 2 cents….

stephen richards

They assume that they understand accurately and empirically “(greenhouse gases, solar variations, volcanic aerosols)”. Which they don’t; They also assume that their model can accurately predict anything.

phlogiston

This is very important. Interesting to see that Colorado are involved.
Leif Svalgaard says:
November 5, 2012 at 2:47 pm
From paragraph [13] of the paper:
“Some climate model experiments have found that forcing with combinations of external forcing (greenhouse gases, solar variations, volcanic aerosols) cannot reproduce the observed multi decadal variation in surface temperature [Andronova and Schlesinger, 2000], but that a coupled climate model forced with only climatological fluxes and run over 1000 years will reproduce a quasi 60 year oscillation in surface temperature that is related to fluctuations in the thermohaline circulation in the model [Delworth and Mann, 2000]. This suggests the multi decadal oscillation is an internal mode, and not externally forced. Moreover, a coupled model experiment where the Atlantic surface temperatures were forced to correspond to observations resulted in multi decadal surface temperature oscillations throughout the Northern hemisphere, similar to observations [Zhang et al., 2007], again with no external forcings other than climatology.”

This is an important comment about whether the nonlinear oscillation is forced or unforced. However the last sentence appears self-contradictory:
Moreover, a coupled model experiment where the Atlantic surface temperatures were forced to correspond to observations resulted in multi decadal surface temperature oscillations throughout the Northern hemisphere, similar to observations [Zhang et al., 2007], again with no external forcings other than climatology.
It is “forced to correspond to observations” then later in the same sentence there are “no external forcings”. WUWT? Did forcing the model improve correspondence with reality? If so, this is an argument for periodic forcing, not for an unforced oscillator.