Did AGW slow Sea Level Rise?

Guest essay by Rud Istvan

The abstract of a new Science paper by JPL’s Reager based on GRACE claims that AGW caused more landfall precipitation from 2002 to 2014, that ~3200 gigatons (cubic kilometers) was retained as groundwater, and that this slowed annual sea level rise by ~0.71mm/year. The paper is paywalled, but the phys.org report on it provides a key figure from Reager/JPL:


It is apparent from this JPL figure that the two basins with the most groundwater accumulation (dark blues) are the Amazon and the Congo. Unfortunately for JPL and for GRACE, those accumulations of ground water are physically impossible.

The Amazon basin drains to the sea via its river system, the largest in the world. Low elevations are covered by 5.5E+6km2 of relatively flat rainforest (blue on the following map) comprising [5.5/7.7] 71% of the entire basin. Manaus (red star) is 1500 km inland from the Atlantic, yet only 69 meters above sea level. The Amazon is navigable by ocean going cargo ships from the Atlantic all the way to Manaus. It will drain.


The Amazon has ITCZ determined wet/dry seasons. ‘Dry’ season June to October groundwater levels are about at local river levels. (Rainfall during the five-month Manaus ‘dry’ season (left image below) is ‘only’ about 80mm/month.) Most of the Amazon rainforest is at or just slightly above that ‘low’ river level. And it inundates during annual ‘wet’ seasons since already nearly saturated (right image). The rivers are slow moving, but wet season rainwater still drains to the sea by the next ‘dry’ season. There is no ability for the Amazon basin to retain extra ground water for years as JPL claims; it is already saturated.


The Congo River basin is the world’s second largest. The Congo has substantially more elevation change (scale in meters), so perhaps more potential ability to retain rainfall in unsaturated soils than the flat, saturated Amazon basin.


Central Africa has an ITCZ determined ‘wet’ season from October to March. Even at the beginning of the Congo wet season, almost half the basin soils are nearly or fully saturated. The rest of the basin saturates; then additional rainfall drains more rapidly to the sea than in the Amazon. Extra Congo basin water cannot be retained either, let alone accumulate hundreds of cubic kilometers over several years as JPL claims.


JPL scientists need remedial education in geography, geology, and hydrology before publishing such nonsense in Science. Ground truthing GRACE is not hard in this case based on their map. Another failure of climate science and peer review.

This quick post was easily excerpted from essay PseudoPrecision (concerning SLR) in my ebook Blowing Smoke.

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February 12, 2016 3:56 pm

When you get paid to swing a hammer everything looks like nail.

george e. smith
Reply to  Nicholas Schroeder
February 12, 2016 4:23 pm

Well who would have thought that we could have perfectly natural Fracking going on ??

February 12, 2016 4:09 pm

The missing water. It could be a place near you.

Don K
Reply to  Knutsen
February 13, 2016 1:16 am

We could put its picture on a milk carton.
Anyone have a snapshot of the missing water?

Reply to  Don K
February 13, 2016 7:42 pm

The missing water is hiding in the deep oceans with the missing heat.

Reply to  Knutsen
February 13, 2016 4:34 am

Perhaps the water seeped into tiny cracks, then the heating made it expand. Now it’s trapped in there.

Reply to  HocusLocus
February 14, 2016 11:00 pm

About five years ago i dug a fishing pond for my son and diverted a creek into it. Since then the ocean rise has declined.

John F. Hultquist
February 12, 2016 4:15 pm

Take a measurement during the wet season and another during the dry season.
Calculate the difference.
Or am I missing something?
Nice post.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
February 12, 2016 4:30 pm

TY. A simple unexpected dividend from 2+ years of fairly hard, largely uncompensated research.

Don K
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
February 13, 2016 1:18 am

Agree. Nice Post

February 12, 2016 4:20 pm

And in another paper proving CAGW, the Amazon is in the midst of a drought. Weren’t they having problems with drinking water and electric generation? Of course that’s how insidious global warming is, the water secretly went into the ground. It’s probably right there with the missing heat.

February 12, 2016 4:30 pm

I have always wondered how much relying on aquifers for water has affected sea level rise. Extracting fossil water. According to a 2013 USGA study of only 40 aquifers across the United States alone that in the same 12 year time span as this study almost 300 Giga tons of water was removed – representing almost 1/10 of the water in this study. Although these are back of the napkin numbers I’ve never seen it represented as part of the supposedly accelerating sea level rise.

Reply to  FeSun
February 12, 2016 5:11 pm

FS, I have studied that side of this geophysics, also. There are certainly some depleting aquifers, yhe largest being the US’ Ogallalla. But most replenish seasonally (or over a wet few seasons, like maybe California). The net net is far too small to explain delta SLR, and is not even comsidered in the several papers dealing with the unsolved SLR closure problem.

Reply to  ristvan
February 12, 2016 6:11 pm

Areas in California’s San Joaquin Valley have subsided as much as 28 feet, the Phoenix valley as much as 18 feet. California farmers are drilling as deep as 2500 feet to find water. It’s claimed that these aquifers cannot be recharged.

Reply to  ristvan
February 12, 2016 11:24 pm

“The net net is far too small to explain delta SLR”.
The level of water released by the various ice fields of the world is generally over-estimated because the rate of isotopic recover (ground level rise as a result of glacial melting) is under-estimated. Remember that the rate of ocean rise, hence the rate of water release must be high because that allows “climate scientists” to make big scary claims.
So if we calculate too much water being released into the oceans, and real measurements show that the oceans are only rising by a small amount, that must mean that all that extra water got absorbed somewhere.
Easily explained. Very bad science, but easily explained.

David A
Reply to  ristvan
February 13, 2016 12:33 am

Ristvan, your thoughts on this may be interesting. In a 2015 SL article David Burton demonstrated how there is no acceleration in the tide gauge record. It was also mentioned that reservoir storage may have artificially lowered the trend. CAGW proponent Sod injected this criticism of that idea…
sod 20. September 2015 at 7:58 AM | Permalink “2.
Sod, quoting the post; “The mid-20th century dam-building boom (think Aswan!) has ended. ”
Sod says, ” Are you serious about this point? This source has done the calculation for a km³ of water (less than 3 microns). https://climatesanity.wordpress.com/conversion-factors-for-ice-and-water-mass-and-volume/ Aswan dam (132 km³) was filled over 6 years. Have you done any kind of calculation on this subject that supports your “acceleration thesis”??? – See more at: http://notrickszone.com/2015/09/03/sea-level-analyst-not-possible-to-torture-coastal-tide-gauge-data-into-yielding-a-sea-level-rise-anywhere-near-3-3-mmyr/#sthash.pXcGFoUq.dpuf
There we find this information…
How much does one Gigatonne of melted ice (1 km³ of water) raise the oceans?
The oceans occupy 361 million square kilometers ( 361 x 106 km²) of the Earth’s surface.
If one cubic kilometer of water (i.e., one gigatonne of water) is spread evenly over the entire 361 million square kilomters, the thickness of the new layer of water will be given by:
1 km³ / 361 x 106 km² = 2.78 x 10-6 meters = 2.78 microns.
Or, in terms of gigatonnes:
1 Gt x (1 km³/Gt) / 361 x 106 km² = 2.78 x 10-6 meters = 2.78 microns / Gt
Sod summarizes…”That is, one cubic kilometer of water (i.e., one gigatonne of water) will add less than 3 millionths of a meter to the oceans!”
How many gigatonnes of ice must melt to raise the oceans one inch?
1 inch = 25.4 mm = 2.54 x 10-2 meters
The number of gigatonnes of water that must be added to the oceans to raise the sea level 1 inch is given by:
1 inch x (2.54 x 10-2 m / inch) / (2.78 x 10-6 m / Gt) = 9137 Gt
So, 9137 km³ of water will raise the oceans 1 inch
Let’s do the basic research which Sod assumed was meaningless. Per the global reservoir storage capacity chart, 5, 250 sq kilometers of reservoir storage was added globally during the 50 year period from 1955 to 2005, flat lining by then and since.
Each sq. kilometer of manmade storage is 2.78 microns that that the oceans did not rise. 5,250 x 2.78 microns is 14,595 microns withheld from the oceans for the 50 year period from 1955 to 2005. This is .575 inches of rise which did not occur in that period, or 14.6 millimeters for the fifty year period; effectively artificially lowering the trend .292 millimeters per year below what it would have been without humans lowering the natural trend through adding reservoir storage.
Since 2005 global reservoir storage has basically flat lined, meaning that to isolate the natural and CO2 component of SL rise, the last 10 years of sea level rise should be lowered .292 millimeters per year if one wishes to compare those ten years to the 55 year period preceding it. (Alternatively one could of course adjust up the previous trend from1955 to 2005 by .292 mm per year.)
In truth the storage capacity trend begins to flatten around 1985, going completely flat by 2005. Of course ground water loss. through wells and agricultural farming, would counter some of this, and average reservoir level instead of full capacity is needed. Yet, on the other hand, keep in mind that these 5,250 sq kilometers of above ground reservoir storage, have also added water to the water table, over and above the reservoir above ground capacity in areas beneath and surrounding the reservoirs.

Reply to  ristvan
February 13, 2016 11:25 am

As gigatons of icy water are added to the oceans, how much is the sea floor depressed by the added weight?

Don K
Reply to  FeSun
February 13, 2016 1:12 am

FWIW, The IPCC looks at that in the ARs. Their take. Worldwide, sea level changes from ground water pumping have been just about matched by the water stored in new artificial lakes created by dams and reservoirs. And in any case, the amounts are quite small compared to sea level changes from thermal expansion of sea water and ice melt. I have some reservations about the sea level portions of the IPCC reports, but I think they probably have that part about right.

David A
Reply to  Don K
February 13, 2016 1:28 am

Thanks Don, and this may well be correct as my last paragraph intimates, but often the media and CAGW science only publish (what the general public reads) one side of the equation, and I have not seen any estimates of reservoir storage adding to groundwater tables.

David A
Reply to  Don K
February 13, 2016 1:30 am

Oh, and I do not agree about IPCC sea level reports and thermal expansion. Tide gauge readings do not confirm the satellite SL readings.

Wim Röst
February 12, 2016 4:32 pm

The Earth is greening because of CO2. More biomass is retaining more water, both in the ground (roots) and above. I think, 0,7 mm a year (as the study says) is not to much for the biosphere to take up. The more roots (and their remnants) in the bottom, the more water the soil will keep (sponge). Perhaps the main mistake of the Science paper is that they think about the water being IN the ground and not ‘in’ and ‘on’.
Could it be that most of the ‘red areas’ are areas where man is pumping a lot?

February 12, 2016 4:37 pm

Great post. Short and direct to the point.
But this raises a question. GRACE is measuring something about those areas. If not water, then what? (I’m not arguing here, the question is serious).

Reply to  davidmhoffer
February 12, 2016 5:04 pm

DH, my basic response is likely instrument error rather than any measurement. Same arguement made re Jason 2 and sat altimetry delta SLR in the ebook essay. The supposed SLR changes are within the NASA speced instrument error. They should tell us that!
GRACE lead lag (I assume you know how the two satellite system works) deteriorated so much that a few years ago they switched the lead lag satellites. Inevitable orbital drag at those altitudes. They have not published resulting error bars. GRACE is to be decommissioned due to orbital deterioration this year, and GRACE2 is supposed to be launched in 2017, with greater sensitivity. So the whole thing hinges on ‘trust NASA’, nevermind what we said about our sats even before they launched. Which they expect no one not to dig up, but I did.

Don K
Reply to  ristvan
February 13, 2016 1:47 am

“DH, my basic response is likely instrument error rather than any measurement.”
Rud, I’d have to look at it for a LONG time, and maybe I will someday. But my quick take is that GRACE ought to be much better at differential measurements than at absolute measurements. I.e. it can probably measure the difference between gravity over the Venezualan highlands and adjacent the Amazon Basin better than it can year to year changes in gravity. There may be something going on, but not necessarily what they think. And in any case, they are surely going to try to squeeze every possible bit of information out of their expensive project. Interpreting random variation as data is a real possibility when one does that. Unless the signals they are looking at are clear and unambiguous, I think you’re right to suspect instrument error.
BTW, I came across a reanalysis of Jason 2 data a year or so ago that came in at 2.0 mm/yr sea level rise. BUT they said that the difference between results using the two most commonly used tropospheric delay models was — 2.0 mm/yr!!! As you probably know Poseidon/Topex (the CU numbers) uses improved tropospheric delay technology. But still …

Proud Skeptic
Reply to  davidmhoffer
February 12, 2016 8:53 pm

If I understand your point, which seems to be the fact that satellites cannot measure things directly but measure other things related to the things they want to measure and then try to establish a way to convert one to the other, then I agree. Satellites orbiting the Earth are expected to measure temperatures that they cannot experience directly. Also, they somehow can establish that minute changes in the gravitational field are related to re-hydration of parched soils.
While I do not discount any of this as mere fantasy, it does have the feeling of a house of cards where assumptions are being built on other assumptions about things that are not being measured directly. Yes, I understand that satellite “temperature measurements” (that is not really what they do) can be calibrated against direct measurements taken by weather balloons and the like.
I would love to know how these folks established that these micro-gravitational changes are DEFINITELY related to saturation of the earth. Or are they just looking for the equivalent of “hidden heat” in sea level rise?

Reply to  davidmhoffer
February 12, 2016 11:55 pm

Where did the water in Oceans take the way, if it didn’t hide under ground? Well, as usual, it gets frozen to ice somewhere, for example spread thinly over most of Greenland and on Antarctica, etc. Where else. This is not the first time that somebody suggests that water hides under ground far inland on continents and takes time to get to the sea.

Robert B
Reply to  davidmhoffer
February 13, 2016 1:52 am

That there is an increase in areas that regularly flood is a bit suspicious. Most were likely to be saturated many times throughout the period of the research, drying out in between.
There were huge floods in East Australia 5 years ago after a drought (that a decrease in the rate of sea-level rise was blamed on) but where its dark blue near the east coast, the water would have flowed to the sea or south west down to the Murray-Darling river system. A lot of the water flowed inland into the Great Artesian basin as well. Many of the areas where a lot of replenishment of the ground water would have occurred is light blue or even white in their map but rapidly draining areas (and less drought affected 10 years ago) are dark blue.
The Okavango Delta is a small part of the dark blue area in Southern Africa. It gets about 1m of flood water annually with most being lost to evaporation. A small percentage goes into Lake Ngami which filled with water about 10 years ago after being dry but looks like its dried to grassland/marsh once more. The dark blue looks like it corresponds 10cm of water per year. The area should be saturated with water. The lake should be 7 times bigger as when Livingstone found it in the mid 19th C.
Lastly, another blue spot appears to be lake Victoria.

michael hart
February 12, 2016 5:35 pm

I don’t have access to the paper, and can’t read the units on their graph, even when expanded. How much do they claim is being stored in these areas in terms of mm depth of water per year?
Next obvious question is how much of an extra increment of forest growth might be required to make the GRACE satellite record the same thing. Wood and leaves hold a lot of water.

Reply to  michael hart
February 12, 2016 5:47 pm

JPL Units are terrestrial surface water (TSW) (accumulation) per GRACE pixel resolution.
Links should lead you to the underlying non-paywalled data. Good luck with the rest.

michael hart
Reply to  ristvan
February 12, 2016 7:37 pm

Well, they give gigatonnes per GRACE-pixel, which leaves me no wiser. Clicking around I can get to
Clicking on the first thumbnail on that page shows a diagram showing an “Anomaly Liquid Water Thickness” for July 2007 of at least 20cm (base period 2003-2007) for much of the Amazon and Orinoco region.
I’m still not sure what that means or how it is defined, but it seems like a lot
And how does GRACE determine liquid water anyway? That diagram I describe shows no data for Greenland, but plenty of other land data more Northerly than a fair chunk of Greenland. Questions questions.

Robert B
Reply to  ristvan
February 13, 2016 2:05 am

Someone ought to check my calculations. 0.075Gt per .25degree square is the dark blue area.
40 000km/(360×4)=28km 28km^2~750km2 so 10^-4Gt/km2 per year or 100kg/m2
that’s 100mm.

Robert B
Reply to  ristvan
February 13, 2016 2:14 am
David A
Reply to  ristvan
February 13, 2016 2:21 am

But where is the increase in global precipitation. In the observations there is none.

Billy Liar
Reply to  ristvan
February 13, 2016 6:13 am

I would like to see that NASA graphic with the ocean areas filled in with the GRACE measurements. I’m willing to bet the oceans would not show up as ‘all white’ ie no change.
I very much suspect that the oceans would also show areas where water is accumulating/vanishing, shooting a very big hole in NASA’s shabby conjecture.

Reply to  ristvan
February 13, 2016 9:27 am

But where is the increase in global precipitation. In the observations there is none.

Plants use less water when fed with extra CO2. Their respiration becomes more water efficient.

February 12, 2016 5:40 pm

a few years ago they switched the lead lag satellites
That would require a lost of adjusting, LOL.
So we’re looking at noise. Tx Rud.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
February 12, 2016 6:07 pm

It’s like that with all satellites.
Take the ones UAH uses.
NOAA 12 as an example.
In the lab the cold target registered 700 digital counts, the hot target around 3000 counts
After launch the view of cold space registered 1800 counts.!!! OPPS!
The problem is the calibration curve ( or proxy curve) is non linear. in other words the sensor gives you
COUNTS and counts have to be transformed into Brightness temperature. That transformation
is non linear. In the lab its easy to tweak the coefficients.
But once that baby is launched and you start getting 1800 counts for the cold target view.. all bets are off.
Really really precise PRTs.. accuracy? different question. Accuracy AFTER re calibration guesses?
hardly the settled science some skeptics make it out to be.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 12, 2016 6:35 pm

So, therefore, anthropogenic CO2 really does cause dangerous global warming. Told ya …..

Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 12, 2016 6:36 pm


John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 12, 2016 6:37 pm

A good reason to use trees, then?

Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 12, 2016 7:17 pm

Speaking of adjustments after the fact, how many times did the ARGO bouys get adjusted ?

michael hart
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 12, 2016 7:55 pm

Presumably GRACE also has no absolute reference point, so relies on accurately summing anomalies over time. And satellite temperature measurements can also be more easily cross-calibrated with other instruments in the troposphere. Seems like comparing chalk and cheese, in some respects.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 13, 2016 12:25 am

“Presumably GRACE also has no absolute reference point, so relies on accurately summing anomalies over time. And satellite temperature measurements can also be more easily cross-calibrated with other instruments in the troposphere. Seems like comparing chalk and cheese, in some respects.”
Go find me a UAH temperature field. I’ll wait.
As for radiosonds, read Steve mcIntyre. They are heavily adjusted an homogenized.
For grins.. go grab a sonde record at 700 Hpa. Now go find the cooresponding 700Hpa temperature
record for UAH… you cant.
Go ahead, see if you can find a UAH file of absolute temperatures….

David A
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 13, 2016 12:44 am

RHA and RSS are measuring the atmosphere, and compared to weather balloons. Grace is measuring gravity, all the way to earth’s core. Massive tectonic movement is happening throughout the crust, and massive (hundreds of miles thick) movement of mantel beneath the miles thick crust. How this affects grace must be a crap shoot, and with certainly affects the error bars.

Don K
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 13, 2016 6:31 am

“It’s like that with all satellites.”
That’s fair enough. Lots of obscure data manipulations. Pretty much impossible to assess their validity. And among the handful of people who understand any given satellite, my guess is that no two of them agree completely on all the adjustments. But at least UAH/RSS are cross checked against radiosondes and come up with similar numbers — which is more than you can say for sea level comparison of satellites with tidal gauges.
It’s not just the satellites. Sea surface temperature data prior to the modern buoys looks pretty useless. Surface temperature trends look to be more dubious adjustment than actual data. Tree rings? I’ll give you tree age, and (probably) drought. But temperature to the degree? Give me a break.
And don’t get me started on proxies. Yechhh.
Personally, with the notable exception of atmospheric CO2 and possibly polar ice extent, I have little faith in ANY of the numbers in current use for anything in climate “science”.

February 12, 2016 5:42 pm

Geez… That map shows positive land water gain to Australia, primarily Queensland and the Northern Territory.
What about the recent prolonged ‘worst and most widespread drought’ ever, lads?

Queensland’s largest drought-declared area ever
ABC Rural. By Cassie Hough and Eliza Rogers
It is official – this drought is Queensland’s most widespread on record, with almost 80 per cent of the state now drought-declared.
Queensland’s Agriculture Minister has announced the largest drought-stricken area ever for the state, with 15 new shires added to the list.
This takes the number of drought-declared shires to 38, and it is the first time large sections of the Queensland coast have been included.

Reply to  markx
February 12, 2016 5:47 pm

Date for above drought story.
Queensland’s largest drought-declared area ever
ABC Rural. By Cassie Hough and Eliza Rogers
11 Mar 2014, 6:50am

Reply to  markx
February 12, 2016 6:12 pm

You all know that if had I been from Down Under, I would have led with this additional disproof. But am not, so did not. Was not in my bag til now. TY. Force multiplier. Use it.

Reply to  markx
February 14, 2016 6:48 am

Of course, drought with occasional floods is the normal situation in Australia.

February 12, 2016 5:44 pm

Perhaps the GRACE data is correct but they have falsely assumed the mass is due to soil saturation and aquifer recharge. Maybe the extra mass is from the increased biomass. But then again, I doubt it. The conclusions based on GRACE seem to be all over the place, from increased ice loss to decreased ice loss, from depleting aquifers to swelling aquifers, all based on the same measurements from the same instruments.

Peter Sable
February 12, 2016 6:25 pm

AGW does X. what a suprise

Smart Rock
February 12, 2016 6:56 pm

GRACE measures the gravitational field. Changes in the field (assuming they’re real, which is another question already addressed in this thread) reflect changes in mass between the point of observation and the centre of the earth. NASA is assuming all those changes are increase/decrease in the amount of groundwater. In the Amazon and Congo basins, is it possible that they are just measuring increase in biomass (plus the water it holds) due to enhanced growth in response to higher CO2 – the amazing, all-natural fertilizer with no artificial preservatives or colouring agents?
Why would they assume all mass changes are due to water gain or loss?
Another possible alternative, if the blue areas in Canada and Norway are real, they could be showing post-glacial isostatic rise. If the land surface rises isostatically, upper mantle must flow into those areas and there will be mass increase.
Looks like they need to broaden their horizons and learn more about the earth and its natural environment.. Plus get more sensitive instrumentation.

Reply to  Smart Rock
February 12, 2016 7:15 pm

The mantle is constantly flowing, especially near volcanoes etc.
and the composition of basaltic vs granitic can also alter the gravity field..

David A
Reply to  AndyG55
February 13, 2016 12:50 am

Indeed! UHA and RSS are measuring the atmosphere, and compared/verified to weather balloons.
Grace is measuring gravity, all the way to earth’s core. Massive tectonic movement is happening throughout the crust, and massive (hundreds of miles thick) movement of mantel beneath the miles thick crust. How this affects grace must be a crap shoot, and with certainty affects the error bars.

Reply to  AndyG55
February 13, 2016 11:41 am

“Indeed! UHA and RSS are measuring the atmosphere, and compared/verified to weather balloons”
please point me to the latest comparison between version 6 of UAH and radiosonde data.
Let’s pick an easy spot to check. the center of greenland.
go find the sonde temperature data. go find the UAH temperature data.
two data points.. shouldnt be hard

February 12, 2016 7:02 pm

I’d like to point out that most of what is published in (so-called) Science is nonsense or propaganda.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  ECK
February 12, 2016 8:49 pm

Please amend that nonsense or propaganda comment to “Climate Science” or provide reasons for demonising proper science.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
February 15, 2016 2:15 am

Science the journal, not science the discipline, I assume.

Reply to  ECK
February 13, 2016 12:03 am


FJ Shepherd
February 12, 2016 7:59 pm

Do you think someone could acquire a grant to give a better explanation as to why global warming has slowed down the sea level rise? How about the fact that the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland are steadily increasing overall … naw … on second thought, such a study would never get published … I suppose.

February 12, 2016 8:21 pm

Gods, when people write bad fantasy fiction based on other bad fantasy fiction then claim it is a fact?
There is no sea level rise to begin with and a mess-load of you in this thread on this site are acting like there is?
The article is a zero-value non-starter. Its like the IPCC claiming that “awareness” of global warming has reduced global warming… its bullshit.

Reply to  prjindigo
February 12, 2016 10:00 pm

Sea level is clearly rising, based on the average of many tide gauges over many decades.
What is not happening, as claimed by warmistas, is any acceleration in the rate of rise. Tide gauges around the world show this to be the case.

spangled drongo
Reply to  Menicholas
February 12, 2016 11:01 pm

Menicholas, has there been a geodetic audit of the world’s tide gauges to show if there really is any SLR world-wide?
Where this has been done to my knowledge there is no SLR. EG Fort Denison tide gauge Sydney, Australia, SLR 65mm over 100 years but sinking at the rate of 0.89mm per year. IOW, no SLR.

Chris Schoneveld
Reply to  Menicholas
February 12, 2016 11:27 pm

An increase in the rate of the rise is already an acceleration. You don’t have to overdo it.

David A
Reply to  Menicholas
February 13, 2016 12:53 am

There is no increase per tide gauges,

Don K
Reply to  Menicholas
February 13, 2016 2:43 am

“has there been a geodetic audit of the world’s tide gauges to show if there really is any SLR world-wide?”
Yes. It seems like every earth scientist with time on their hands has done such an audit. Check the IPCC reports for links. And they all come up with somewhat different answers — around 2.0mm per year rise … give or take. Much (maybe all) of the Earth’s crust is bouncing up or down due to a variety of tectonic forces. On top of which, the sea isn’t actually level. Nor is its volume quite constant. Which is a function of not only how much water is in the oceans on any given day, but of temperature of that water. Anyway, the sea level measured by tidal gauges probably isn’t all that great. On top of which, tidal gauges are far from being evenly distributed. Satellites at least have good distribution and use the same instrument for all measurement. But they have their own substantial problems. And all those things are trying to measure changes on the order of the thickness of a few sheets of paper a year.
Skepticism is in order.

Berényi Péter
Reply to  Menicholas
February 13, 2016 10:29 am

We have satellite measured sea level data at the CU Sea Level Research Group site. It is given from late 1992 to mid 2015, which means it contains 22 full years of data from 1993 to 2014.
Glacial isostatic adjustment is added to it, I do not know, why? Its value is purported to be 0.3 mm/year (1.18 inch/cy), but with this adjustment you no longer get sea level, but ocean volume, which is an entirely different beast. Therefore I have removed this particular adjustment from the data.
With this modification average rate of sea level rise in this 22 years long period is 11.62 inch/cy.
We can also calculate acceleration, which turns out to be -11.88 inch/cy², which is in fact deceleration. That is, if sea level change keeps going on like this, it stops rising in a hundred years (in fact by 2112) and starts decreasing. In a hundred years between 2013 and 2112 it is projected to rise by 5.8 inches.
We also have the Permanent Service for mean Sea Level (PSMSL) site.
Rate of sea level rise measured by tide gauges is not directly comparable to satellite measured rates, because not only sea level, but land is also moving vertically, either rising or falling depending on the site, at rates comparable to sea level change. Tide gauges are only able to measure relative rates at coastal locations, which is not particularly useful, if land movement is not measured as well. Unfortunately I am not aware of a dataset containing rates of land movement at each tide gauge. Which brings about the question, how the satellite dataset was calibrated in the first place? But I stop investigating in this direction for now.
We still can do something useful though. Acceleration is invariant to an arbitrary additive term to rates and land movement changes only slowly most of the time at most locations. Except for tectonic events (earthquakes) of course, when coastal regions can rise or sink several feet in a short time.
There are 1436 tide gauge stations in PSMSL. Of these 114 have full record for 1993-2014, acceleration calculated.

 No. ID        Lat.         Lon.    Station Name                    Acceleration
  1; 1790;  34.682222;  135.190278; KOBE II                      ; -832.25 inch/cy²
  2; 2103;  60.408611;   18.210833; FORSMARK                     ; -482.34 inch/cy²
  3;  330;  55.522222;   12.893611; KLAGSHAMN                    ; -475.84 inch/cy²
  4;  426;  57.051667; -135.341667; SITKA                        ; -463.84 inch/cy²
  5;  397;  54.510833;   13.643056; SASSNITZ                     ; -425.82 inch/cy²
  6;  249;  60.031883;   20.384817; FOGLO / DEGERBY              ; -411.15 inch/cy²
  7;  239;  60.428283;   22.100533; TURKU / ABO                  ; -409.71 inch/cy²
  8;   11;  54.169722;   12.103333; WARNEMUNDE 2                 ; -403.87 inch/cy²
  9;   78;  59.324167;   18.081667; STOCKHOLM                    ; -400.37 inch/cy²
 10;   69;  57.366111;   17.097222; OLANDS NORRA UDDE            ; -398.31 inch/cy²
 11;  376;  61.133533;   21.425817; RAUMA / RAUMO                ; -393.15 inch/cy²
 12;   79;  65.040317;   25.418233; OULU / ULEABORG              ; -388.98 inch/cy²
 13;  229;  65.673367;   24.515250; KEMI                         ; -379.86 inch/cy²
 14;  285;  62.343950;   21.214833; KASKINEN / KASKO             ; -374.97 inch/cy²
 15; 2106;  57.275000;   16.478056; OSKARSHAMN                   ; -374.19 inch/cy²
 16; 2108;  55.416667;   12.829444; SKANOR                       ; -370.91 inch/cy²
 17;   88;  63.986111;   20.895000; RATAN                        ; -365.97 inch/cy²
 18; 2105;  57.639167;   18.284444; VISBY                        ; -359.47 inch/cy²
 19; 2107;  55.557500;   14.357778; SIMRISHAMN                   ; -336.18 inch/cy²
 20; 2113;  58.996667;   11.127222; KUNGSVIK                     ; -327.45 inch/cy²
 21;   32;  52.462222;    4.554722; IJMUIDEN                     ; -326.29 inch/cy²
 22; 1442;  43.278056;  145.567778; HANASAKI II                  ; -325.90 inch/cy²
 23; 2110;  56.142222;   12.579167; VIKEN                        ; -325.56 inch/cy²
 24;  240;  64.666333;   24.407050; RAAHE / BRAHESTAD            ; -314.50 inch/cy²
 25;   70;  56.105278;   15.589444; KUNGSHOLMSFORT               ; -303.06 inch/cy²
 26; 2104;  58.553611;   16.837222; MARVIKEN                     ; -298.39 inch/cy²
 27;  312;  68.428286;   17.425759; NARVIK                       ; -281.10 inch/cy²
 28; 1391;  27.083333;  142.183333; CHICHIJIMA                   ; -279.44 inch/cy²
 29;   47;  58.974339;    5.730121; STAVANGER                    ; -253.09 inch/cy²
 30; 1748;  63.436484;   10.391669; TRONDHEIM 2                  ; -246.65 inch/cy²
 31; 1093;  38.467778;  139.255000; AWA SIMA                     ; -242.42 inch/cy²
 32;   20;  51.442222;    3.596111; VLISSINGEN                   ; -241.31 inch/cy²
 33;  789;  54.372222;   10.156944; KIEL-HOLTENAU                ; -239.92 inch/cy²
 34;  680;  69.647424;   18.961323; TROMSO                       ; -237.59 inch/cy²
 35;   25;  53.175556;    5.409444; HARLINGEN                    ; -234.75 inch/cy²
 36;   13;  53.958056;   10.872222; TRAVEMUNDE                   ; -229.81 inch/cy²
 37;  425;  69.326067;   16.134848; ANDENES                      ; -226.97 inch/cy²
 38;   45;  68.212639;   14.482149; KABELVAG                     ; -226.75 inch/cy²
 39; 1113;  58.995212;    9.856379; HELGEROA                     ; -219.03 inch/cy²
 40; 1267;  70.980318;   25.972697; HONNINGSVAG                  ; -215.69 inch/cy²
 41; 1587;  41.242500;  140.381389; TAPPI                        ; -210.13 inch/cy²
 42;  179;  58.353611;   11.217778; SMOGEN                       ; -206.35 inch/cy²
 43;   23;  52.964444;    4.745000; DEN HELDER                   ; -205.63 inch/cy²
 44; 2111;  57.249722;   12.112500; RINGHALS                     ; -197.57 inch/cy²
 45; 1241;  64.859456;   11.230107; RORVIK                       ; -197.18 inch/cy²
 46; 1421;  78.928545;   11.938015; NY-ALESUND                   ; -196.07 inch/cy²
 47;  486;  61.933776;    5.113310; MALOY                        ; -196.07 inch/cy²
 48;  497;  26.060000;  -97.215000; PORT ISABEL                  ; -195.96 inch/cy²
 49;   24;  53.326389;    6.933056; DELFZIJL                     ; -195.07 inch/cy²
 50; 1089;  34.681944;  137.608889; MAISAKA                      ; -191.63 inch/cy²
 51;   22;  51.977500;    4.120000; HOEK VAN HOLLAND             ; -187.01 inch/cy²
 52;  518;  42.975556;  144.371389; KUSHIRO                      ; -184.85 inch/cy²
 53; 1026;  34.903889;  136.823611; ONISAKI                      ; -182.07 inch/cy²
 54;  722;  35.288056;  139.651389; YOKOSUKA                     ; -164.56 inch/cy²
 55;  225;  55.331667; -131.625000; KETCHIKAN                    ; -164.45 inch/cy²
 56; 1389;  36.762222;  137.224722; TOYAMA                       ; -148.55 inch/cy²
 57; 1353;  61.125000; -146.361667; VALDEZ                       ; -144.44 inch/cy²
 58; 1488;  35.091389;  136.880833; NAGOYA II                    ; -139.27 inch/cy²
 59;  815;  32.779167;  132.958889; TOSA SHIMIZU                 ; -132.88 inch/cy²
 60;  935; -12.471778;  130.845861; DARWIN                       ; -125.82 inch/cy²
 61;  359;  34.918889;  139.825000; MERA                         ; -107.26 inch/cy²
 62;  167;  54.316667; -130.333333; PRINCE RUPERT                ; -102.15 inch/cy²
 63; 1263;  34.608333;  138.222222; OMAEZAKI II                  ;  -96.37 inch/cy²
 64;    8;  53.898889;   11.458056; WISMAR 2                     ;  -90.76 inch/cy²
 65; 1209;  34.240556;  132.550278; KURE IV                      ;  -86.09 inch/cy²
 66; 1146;  34.076389;  136.207222; OWASE                        ;  -81.92 inch/cy²
 67; 1090;  33.558333;  135.896389; URAGAMI                      ;  -75.31 inch/cy²
 68; 1551;  51.619722;    3.681944; ROOMPOT BUITEN               ;  -70.92 inch/cy²
 69;  236;  53.363056;    5.220000; WEST-TERSCHELLING            ;  -70.64 inch/cy²
 70;  447;  58.766667;  -94.183333; CHURCHILL                    ;  -68.91 inch/cy²
 71; 1390;  33.266389;  134.164444; MUROTOMISAKI                 ;  -65.75 inch/cy²
 72;  813;  41.781667;  140.724722; HAKODATE I                   ;  -59.08 inch/cy²
 73;    9;  51.917500;    4.249722; MAASSLUIS                    ;  -57.69 inch/cy²
 74; 1091;  34.789444;  139.391389; OKADA                        ;  -42.52 inch/cy²
 75; 1103;  45.407778;  141.685278; WAKKANAI                     ;  -40.18 inch/cy²
 76; 1585;  34.897222;  132.066111; HAMADA II                    ;  -38.85 inch/cy²
 77; 1386;  32.605278;  130.195278; KUCHINOTSU                   ;  -37.62 inch/cy²
 78; 1807;  43.461300;   -3.790760; SANTANDER III                ;  -33.35 inch/cy²
 79;  814;  31.576944;  131.409444; ABURATSU                     ;  -26.45 inch/cy²
 80; 1293;  33.266111;  131.686667; OITA II                      ;  -23.84 inch/cy²
 81; 1586;  34.197778;  129.291667; IZUHARA II                   ;  -23.56 inch/cy²
 82; 1147;  33.158056;  129.723889; SASEBO II                    ;  -18.62 inch/cy²
 83; 1387;  35.476667;  135.386944; MAIZURU II                   ;  -15.34 inch/cy²
 84; 1707;  -0.683333;   73.150000; GAN II                       ;   -9.84 inch/cy²
 85;  155;  21.306667; -157.866667; HONOLULU                     ;   -5.78 inch/cy²
 86; 1095;  36.201389;  133.331111; SAIGO                        ;   -1.78 inch/cy²
 87;  809;  34.009167;  134.587778; KOMATSUSHIMA                 ;    4.22 inch/cy²
 88; 1761; -31.825556;  115.738583; HILLARYS                     ;   16.67 inch/cy²
 89; 1027;  43.209444;  140.858056; OSHORO II                    ;   20.95 inch/cy²
 90;  701;  34.144167;  135.191389; KAINAN                       ;   23.73 inch/cy²
 91; 1099;  34.658056;  135.432778; OSAKA                        ;   26.73 inch/cy²
 92;  299;  36.946667;  -76.330000; SEWELLS POINT, HAMPTON ROADS ;   32.29 inch/cy²
 93;  405;  58.298333; -134.411667; JUNEAU                       ;   37.85 inch/cy²
 94; 1210;  34.040833;  131.802778; TOKUYAMA II                  ;   43.18 inch/cy²
 95;  134;  33.475833;  135.773333; KUSHIMOTO                    ;   61.97 inch/cy²
 96; 1764;  42.050000;    3.200000; L'ESTARTIT                   ;  107.48 inch/cy²
 97; 1789;  34.351389;  134.056944; TAKAMATSU II                 ;  128.21 inch/cy²
 98; 1635;  36.966667;  -76.113333; CHESAPEAKE BAY BR. TUN.      ;  131.88 inch/cy²
 99; 1033; -38.372139;  145.224694; STONY POINT                  ;  136.83 inch/cy²
100; 1152;  48.650000; -123.450000; PATRICIA BAY                 ;  159.50 inch/cy²
101;  816;  34.221667;  135.145556; WAKAYAMA                     ;  161.45 inch/cy²
102;  384;  48.546667; -123.010000; FRIDAY HARBOR (OCEAN. LABS.) ;  175.18 inch/cy²
103;  832; -34.566667;  -58.400000; PALERMO                      ;  179.46 inch/cy²
104;  385;  48.366667; -124.611667; NEAH BAY                     ;  211.58 inch/cy²
105; 1325;  48.111667; -122.756667; PORT TOWNSEND                ;  214.02 inch/cy²
106; 1327; -18.135678;  178.422839; SUVA-A                       ;  220.03 inch/cy²
107; 1544;  35.744444;  140.858333; CHOSHI-GYOKO                 ;  223.30 inch/cy²
108; 2125;  38.913333; -123.706667; ARENA COVE, CALIFORNIA       ;  254.26 inch/cy²
109; 1639;  40.766667; -124.216667; N. SPIT, HUMBOLDT BAY        ;  259.93 inch/cy²
110; 1196;  44.625000; -124.041667; SOUTH BEACH                  ;  287.94 inch/cy²
111; 1440;  33.130278;  139.804722; KAMINATO II (HATIZYO SIMA)   ;  288.72 inch/cy²
112;  234;  32.781667;  -79.925000; CHARLESTON I                 ;  318.12 inch/cy²
113;  265;  46.206667; -123.768333; ASTORIA (TONGUE POINT)       ;  321.56 inch/cy²
114;  201;  46.566667;  -72.100000; DESCHAILLONS                 ; 1182.49 inch/cy²

As you can see, acceleration values are all over the place. Even the median, a deceleration of -141.86 inch/cy² is more than an order of magnitude off compared to the satellite measured value.
We can say two things.
1. The assumption, that rate of land movement only changes slowly, most of the time, at most places, is probably wrong.
2. Calibration of satellite data is not too good, deceleration in the satellite era must be way larger than that.

Don K
Reply to  Menicholas
February 13, 2016 12:43 pm

Berényi Péter :
“Unfortunately I am not aware of a dataset containing rates of land movement at each tide gauge.”
I’m pretty sure that there is no such data set (yet). There are data sets from Peltier and somebody else at the University of Toronto that estimate Glacial Isostatic Adjustment which is a substantial part of the vertical movement at some sites. The rest (assuming the GIA is accurate) is pure tectonics and is very difficult to measure because any terrestrial reference is probably also moving. GPS can (probably) do it, but not easily, so it mostly hasn’t been done yet.
“Which brings about the question, how the satellite dataset was calibrated in the first place? But I stop investigating in this direction for now.”
The satellite uses radar altimetry. Basically — Send out a pulse. Wait for it to come back. Convert the time delay to meters. It’s a lot more complex than that because of waves, ice, ionspheric delays, orbital uncertainties that are significantly larger than the annual change in sea level, satellite orientation (attitude) uncertainties, etc, etc, etc, etc … Are measurements accurate? No real way to know. How accurate? You can believe the estimates from the folks at CU? Or not. My vote is not. Their estimates seem very optimistic and that ill considered GIA adjustment doesn’t do a lot for my faith in their judgment.
When working with tidal gauges, It’s important to remember that the sea not only is not level, but that bulges due to wind, water temperature, etc, seem to move around over time. It’s entirely possible that some of those bulk motions are centuries in duration. Also, one should probably reject most locations in geologically active areas. i.e. the Pacific Rim. Most ocean islands, the Caribbean Islands (except maybe the Bahamas), the Eastern Mediterranean, Red Sea, East Africa(?).
Are estimates of sea level change acceleration from current sea level data meaningful and useful? It seems very unlikely to me. But that won’t stop people from pontificating about them.

Reply to  Menicholas
February 21, 2016 4:18 pm

Very nice work, Berényi Péter. A few thoughts:
1. In many places, there’s a clear ~60 year cycle present in the sea-level data, apparently correlated with the AMO. So 22 years of data is not enough. The literature indicates that at least 50-60 years of data are necessary to deduce a robust sea-level trend from a tide gauge record.
Ref: http://www.sealevel.info/papers.html#howlong
2. When attempting to correct for vertical land motion, the most commonly used figures are Peltier’s model-derived (“VM2”) numbers for GIA, but they seem to be only slightly correlated with reality, and they don’t account for subsidence due to local factors, like groundwater pumping.
Ref: http://www.sealevel.info/resources.html#peltier
3. Measurements of sea-level by satellite altimetry are problematic. Steve Case has documented how U.Col. has revised their numbers over the years:
The Envisat numbers were revised even more dramatically. Subsequent revisions to data up to ten years after it was recorded approximately tripled the rate of sea-level rise “measured” by Envisat.
There really are a lot of good reasons to question satellite altimetry measurements of sea-level. Physicist Willie Soon discusses the problems here:

More refs: http://www.sealevel.info/resources.html#satellite
4. CORS (NOAA) and SONAL (Europe) have ongoing projects to measure vertical land motion via GPS. Unfortunately, GPS measurements of vertical land motion share some, but not all, of the problems of satellite altimetry measurements of sea-level. When a friend looked at CORS data a couple of years ago, to try to get a handle on vertical land motion at North Carolina’s tide gauges, it was clear that the data was basically garbage.
5 NASA is aware of the problems with satellite measurements, and they’ve proposed a new mission called the Geodetic Reference Antenna in SPace (GRASP), to try to improve matters. However, that mission has not been funded.
BTW, I quoted you on my sealevel.info site. Send me an email, please.

Reply to  prjindigo
February 14, 2016 6:50 am

I’ve just been to the beach to look at the sea again. As far as I can tell, it’s just where it was years ago.

Crispin in Waterloo
February 12, 2016 8:54 pm

The ‘dry season’ at a hospital 110 miles out of Kinshasa was described to me by a doctor as ‘when it doesn’t rain continuously’. In wet season it didn’t cease.
Since 1983 the entire Sahel has been greening and the Sahara desert pushed north at least 500 km. The soil is very sandy with the water table being, if I use Niger as an example, about 20 metres down around Niamey and 60 metres down in the far east of the country. It has a huge capacity to store additional water. When it rains in the Sahel, the ground is mostly dry in a few seconds.
The Sahel is one large region with a clear increase in total precipitation. Perhaps the missing water is stored there. It is definitely not in the Congo basin.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
February 13, 2016 1:07 am

Isn’t that pushing the Sahara 500 km further north exactly the opposite of what CAGW predicted?

Don K
Reply to  rishrac
February 13, 2016 2:46 am

> Isn’t that pushing the Sahara 500 km further north exactly the opposite of what CAGW predicted?
All CAGW predicts is that we’re all gonna die. (That may be the only thing they are right about). The agent of our projected demise tends to vary from day to day.

Joel O’Bryan
February 12, 2016 9:13 pm

JPL as part of NASA must have been put on a task to explain why SLR isn’t accelerating. They pulled out a rabbit on cue, but it wasn’t from their hat.

Richard Barnett
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
February 13, 2016 8:47 am

I have an opinion that agrees with yours. I believe that we will see more examples of publications coming out of universities backed by government groups that explain divergence from observations compared to models. We have all read the conflicting studies that claim all warming is caused 100% by fossil fuel emmisions of CO2 and cooling being caused by ENSO natural variability.

Geoff Sherrington
February 12, 2016 10:03 pm

I have restrained my comments here because I have just seen so many cases where bloggers with some extra knowledge of the situation have made partially-correct or partially-incorrect comments and I don’t want to fall in that trap of ‘a little knowledge’. The GRACE concept is new and it has peculiarities of its own.
For example, it is said above that GRACE measures ‘changes in mass between the point of observation and the centre of the earth’. More correctly, I think, it measures all mass/distance effects in a sphere of infinite radius around it. But I am not sure, the field might not be radially symmetric because of the sensor geometry of one mass in orbit behind another. Pedantry?
Following on, GRACE should not react to GIA in the manner outlined by another blogger.
It can react to increased tree mass providing the effect is large enough to be outside the error bounds of the satellite system, which requires actual calculations/estimates rather than qualitative guesses.
Rud’s point about saturation of basins by past water is putatively correct, but one has to show that the transfer of rainfall to reservoirs like arterial basins is fast enough to need inclusion in the model. There, you start to get into estimates of permeability and porosity to water of the rocks below the basin. You have one case if annual rainfall is followed by a return to status quo for the next year, alternatively you might be adding an increment each year through a decades-long process of slow filtration to deeper basins. Is the structure below the Amazon/Congo sealed or leaky? Are these basins already full of water down to the deepest permeable depths?
The GRACE people have mentioned before that sea level rise was slowed because anomalous water was dropped on Australia in 2010-11. Australia’s largest basin by area is perhaps the Lake Eyre system, which is an endorheic basin. If GRACE detected an anomaly indicative of this basin filling, it is not everywhere equitable to the Congo or Amazon, where flow can be to the global oceans. Therefore, the rate of recovery from a pulse of more water can be expected to be rather different and so provide an indirect guide about how fruitfully GRACE is performing. Has anyone read of Australia’s reverse case, when the post-2011 addition because a contribution to seal level rise? Thought not.
From Wiki. “In strong La Niña years the lake can fill. Since 1885 this has occurred in 1886–1887, 1889–1890, 1916–1917, 1950, 1955, 1974–1977, and 1999-2001, with the highest flood of 6 m in 1974. Local rain can also fill Lake Eyre as occurred in 1984 and 1989. Torrential rain in January 2007 took about six weeks to reach the lake but put only a small amount of water into it.” The inference here seems to be horses for courses, that Lake Eyre basin at least can fill from water not connected with sea level rise.
There could well be literature on these diverse matters, so those who have not studied it – I have not done much – should be a little careful. But then, who wants to listen to me, after a career largely spent in geological science? It’s nowhere near as sexy as climate science, but wow!!! does it generate some money for University research grants.
pps – Does anyone have a reference to the footprint of GRACE, being like the effective area on the ground that gives it most of its signal, thus an estimate of resolution? I’d love to read it.

David A
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
February 13, 2016 1:17 am

Geoff, your warning about many possible factors is well taken. One would need, both before and during the study period, global awareness of droughts and floods, global awareness of the geology and water table in each area, global awareness of water table depletion and increase prior to and during the study period, global awareness of reservoir storage change, http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/02/12/did-agw-slow-sea-level-rise/comment-page-1/#comment-2143929 and more understanding of Grace.
UHA and RSS are measuring the atmosphere, and compared and verified via weather balloons. Grace is measuring gravity, all the way through the earth. (For all I know it is affected by lunar and solar system alignments as well) Massive tectonic movement is happening throughout the crust, and massive (hundreds of miles thick) movement of mantel beneath the miles thick crust. How all of this affects Grace must be a crap shoot, and with certainty affects the error bars.

Proud Skeptic
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
February 13, 2016 7:42 am

Geoff – that was helpful. Thanks

February 12, 2016 11:02 pm

If AGW is responsible for stunting rising sea levels it is very unsettling for settled science as we know it. At some point we have to just say STFU because you climate alarmist morons don’t know what you’re talking about. Being self-contradictory to hide behind bad models is not science.

February 13, 2016 12:30 am

Rud Istvan:
Thankyou for your essay that refutes the paper by Reager JT et al. titled ‘A decade of sea level rise slowed by climate-driven hydrology’ Science (2016).
Your refutation is a clear, succinct and brutally complete explanation that

It is apparent from this JPL figure that the two basins with the most groundwater accumulation (dark blues) are the Amazon and the Congo. Unfortunately for JPL and for GRACE, those accumulations of ground water are physically impossible.

And I note that in the subsequent thread there posts from people in Australia pointing out that the putative ground water increase has also not occurred in their continent.
Thankyou for providing your excellent refutation that should have been provided to Science by peer reviewers prior to publication of the paper by Reager et al..

February 13, 2016 12:38 am

The study does seem like an excuse as always. But claiming its wrong based on the supposed lack of geography is lazy. If you dont think scientists know things they teach kids in school then i dno what to feel about this debunking

Reply to  Wolfho
February 13, 2016 2:26 am

Aha, the ‘straw man’ defence again!
The above essay does NOT claim the “study” is “wrong based on the supposed lack of geography” which you assert.
The above essay explains

It is apparent from this JPL figure that the two basins with the most groundwater accumulation (dark blues) are the Amazon and the Congo. Unfortunately for JPL and for GRACE, those accumulations of ground water are physically impossible.

Also, there are several things “they teach kids in school” that so-called ‘climate scientists’ say they don’t know; e.g the reason sun-bathers feel cooler when a cloud passes in front the Sun. This effect more than explains recent global warming.
(Good records of cloud cover are very short because cloud cover is measured by satellites that were not launched until the mid-1980s. But it appears that cloudiness decreased markedly between the mid-1980s and late-1990s. Over that period, the Earth’s reflectivity decreased to the extent that if there were a constant solar irradiance then the reduced cloudiness provided an extra surface warming of 5 to 10 Watts/sq metre.
ref. Pinker, R. T., B. Zhang, and E. G. Dutton (2005), ‘Do satellites detect trends in surface solar radiation?’, Science, 308(5723), 850– 854 .
This is a lot of warming. It is between two and four times the entire warming estimated to have been caused by the build-up of human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that since the industrial revolution, the build-up of human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has had a warming effect of only 2.4 W/sq metre).

February 13, 2016 1:05 am

Rising CO2 in the ocean will make fish ‘intoxicated,’ scientists predict.
“Very little research has been done on open ocean species and we just don’t know how many of these fish will react to elevated CO2 levels,” Philip Munday, an ecologist at James Cook University, Queensland, told Australian Geographic in response to the study’s findings. Some species might be less effected by the levels than others, Munday said.

Adam Gallon
February 13, 2016 1:10 am

The lengths they’ll go to, to avoid saying that something’s wrong with the models.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
February 13, 2016 2:52 am

Adam Gallon
What they say is that it is something wrong with measurement. SLR measurements is not to be trusted as it don`t show the real sea level rise. It is the same kind of masking that socalled scientists attributes to temperature measurements. Mush of the sea level rise and temperature rise is offset by diverse factors. So just join in in the masquerade.

February 13, 2016 2:09 am

JPL has inadvertently stumbled upon/discovered a new element: Circularium

February 13, 2016 2:23 am

Rud: Looking at the map, it looks like the increase in mass is mostly north of the Amazon basin in Venezuela and mostly south of the Congo River basin in Angola and Zambia. However, the resolution of the map makes it difficult to tell and the abstract and press releases don’t appear to say. Do you have any direct information saying that ground water has disappeared from either of these two river basins?
We also need to remember that these maps represent the change for 2002 to 2014. If an area was suffering from a drought in 2002 (or possibly earlier in this period if multi-year averages were used) and returned to normal in 2014, its mass would increase. The Amazon has suffered from highly publicized droughts in recent years, but those were in 2005 and 2010.

Reply to  Frank
February 13, 2016 2:28 am

The current drought in California and the recently-ended drought in Texas are apparent on their map.

Reply to  Frank
February 13, 2016 3:02 am

What you say should not affect sea level very much, and only temporary. The great offset they are talking about is not very trustworthy, it seems to me.

Reply to  Frank
February 13, 2016 12:21 pm

The great offset they talking about may or may not be very trustworthy. Rud created doubt about two key features in the map – but his rational could involve an incorrect (but neighboring) geographic area. He should – but probably won’t – address this issue.
I’m not aware that I made any statements above that require correction, I don’t need to make any statements about the slow rate of current sea level rise. However, scientists are trying to prove that they quantitatively understand the causes of current sea level rise, mostly thermal expansion and melting. These changes are relatively small right now, so they need to account for even smaller changes like ground water depletion, changes in surface reservoirs and glacial isostatic rebound, If sea level rises more than a meter by the end of the century, these trivial changes will actually be trivial. Today, they help increase confidence that we can accurately model the changes have occurred recently.
IMO, we have not seen any evidence for the massive acceleration of SLR that is needed to cause 1 m of SLR by the end of the century: an acceleration of 25 mm/decade/decade (1 inch/decade/decade) if constant. This article is talking about a correction of 7 mm/decade. Yes, that is potentially important today. Hopefully Rud will reply, so that we know whether this post is one of many at WUWT that can’t survive 5 minutes of skeptical scrutiny.

Reply to  Frank
February 14, 2016 2:38 pm

Frank, late reply as I just returned to this near dead thread for a different reason having to do,with Mosher. I posted a map of the Amazon, by type of ecosystem, overlaying Manaus to give elevation. You apparently did not comprehend it. Your geography assertion is just wrong, as is self evident from the post itself, so I thought no reply was necessary. You just changed my mind.

February 13, 2016 3:08 am

I’ve always wondered about GRACE as I worked on the thrusters for the GOCE mission. As far as I know GRACE measure the longer wavelength changes in the gravity field whereas GOCE measures to a spatial resolution of around 100 km2.
GOCE is good for ocean circulation and even atmospheric disturbances whereas GRACE picks up more long term changes or so I believe. I think that’s why it used for natural processes as well. I often heard people mention this during mission development.

Proud Skeptic
February 13, 2016 5:02 am

And following my current philosophy in dealing with these things…ask the simple questions first…
1. How do we know that GRACE is really accurately measuring what it is intended to measure? What is it being calibrated against? Or is this just a simple mathematical relationship that we have to assume is true?
2. How do we know that when GRACE says X and the scientists working with the data interpret X and being Y, that this is correct? What direct measurement is it being calibrated against that we can feel confident is accurate?

Proud Skeptic
Reply to  Proud Skeptic
February 13, 2016 7:40 am

2. How do we know that when GRACE says X and the scientists working with the data interpret X as being Y, that this is correct? What direct measurement is it being calibrated against that we can feel confident is accurate?

Don K
Reply to  Proud Skeptic
February 13, 2016 8:23 am

PS. I’m not real clear on what you are asking. Nor have I spent years of my life working with GRACE. So I’m no expert. But what GRACE measures is the distance between two “identical” satellites in the same orbit with one traveling 220 km (about 2 min in time) behind the other. That distance can be measured with great precision and conceptually it really doesn’t vary a lot due to anything other than small variations in gravity. I’m sure there are quality checks, and a bunch of adjustments to deal with imperfections in the real world, but it’s not clear what would need calibration. … Maybe frequency counters for the measurement link or some such, but that’d probably be pretty straightforward.

Proud Skeptic
Reply to  Don K
February 13, 2016 3:24 pm

While I cannot run the calculations on such things, I can understand the concept of two satellites chasing each other around the Earth. As the lead satellite enters a stronger gravitational field, I would think it would naturally accelerate and increase the distance until the lead satellite leaves the field and slows down.
Ok…so the gravity changed. Now, how do you turn that into a high probability answer to what caused it? These secondary measurements of the effects of other phenomenon leave a LOT of room for speculative analysis.

Reply to  Proud Skeptic
February 13, 2016 1:00 pm

Proud Skeptic: Good questions about the calibration of GRACE. Initially skeptical websites reported significant controversies about the best way to process the raw data from GRACE. Lately there has been silence of this subject. I think there are large changes in mass occurring that could be used to estimate the accuracy of GRACE, but I don’t know if anyone wants to do so: 1) ENSO raises and lowers sea level in the Western and Eastern Pacific by up to 0.5 m. 2) Glacial isostatic rebound is 15+mm/year (1) in northeastern Canada. 3) The Aral Sea is disappearing. 4) Depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer (one of the largest in the world is currently being carefully monitored (by thousand of wells). It would be interesting to see a comparison of GRACE with more traditional measures of these changes. Of course, I’m not sure that the GRACE scientists are interested in performing such comparisons when they can be creating headlines with discoveries that increase society’s fears about change. Fear, not quality science, creates the impact that allows your work to appear in Science and Nature.

Proud Skeptic
Reply to  Frank
February 13, 2016 3:20 pm

Thanks. I am an engineer and not a scientist but I have studied and have begun to understand the fundamentals of climate change. After years of reading, I am starting to get a sense of some of the fundamental problems with the basic science. We seem to be arguing step 43 without having proved step one to the degree necessary.

February 13, 2016 8:03 am

How teachers are getting it wrong on climate change
A major new survey of U.S. middle school and high school science teachers has found that across the country, a majority are teaching about climate change in their classrooms — but a significant percentage are also including incorrect ideas, such as the notion that today’s warming of the globe is a “natural” process.
[More than 5 million people will die from a frightening cause: Breathing]
The study, published in Science Thursday by Eric Plutzer of Penn State University and a number of collaborators from Wright State University and the National Center for Science Education — which supports the teaching of evolution and climate change in schools — consisted of a mail survey of 1,500 teachers nationwide. They included both middle school science teachers and also high school biology, chemistry, physics and Earth sciences teachers, since it wasn’t entirely clear which classes might cover the subject (unlike evolution, which clearly belongs in biology class, climate change stretches across many disciplines)…
These folks must be DNC super delegates. /s

Jeff L
February 13, 2016 8:03 am

Remember that GRACE is looking for gravity variations & gravity variations are driven by density variations. I think Rud makes good point that in a saturated basin that addition rainfall is unlikely to cause a density variation that would drive an anomaly .
On the other hand, this could easily represent subsidence & sedimentation in the Amazon & Congo basins (i.e. water being displaced by sediment, with small scale accommodation driven by basin subsidence). This would give a positive delta in density (sediments being more dense than water) and could lead to the observed anomaly.
Elsewhere, the idea of increased ground water anomalies isn’t implausible but does need to be tied to observed precipitation & see if that makes sense.
Interesting in that this would be a “negative feedback” to AGW driven Sea level rise …

February 13, 2016 9:10 am

Preparing for another hiatus….please not again….please not another “fighting” over “hiatus or not hiatus”….or the pain of going through 1001 excuses why there is a Sea level rise hiatus in a “certain” and “indisputable” AGW era, or the pain of “fighting” whether that is going a be catastrophic or not.
Gosh this really becoming insane…………. 🙂

Proud Skeptic
Reply to  whiten
February 13, 2016 6:37 pm

I prescribe tequila

February 13, 2016 9:41 am

“There is no ability for the Amazon basin to retain extra ground water for years as JPL claims; it is already saturated.”
So, an already “saturated floodplain” that doesn’t have the ability to retain extra groundwater. I like the concept. The next time some tries to tell you that doing something that creates an impervious area increase of maybe 0.1% within a drainage basin, or even a floodplain, will create disastrous flooding because we lose the ability to retain water, please remember this concept.
Each basin is obviously different and will react differently. An additional 20% impervious area within the “flash flood” basin or associated flood plain will make no measurable difference. Impervious area added to the Amazon basin type of flooding will not be significant. The types of flooding that range/exist in between the two stated extremes may (or may not) be impacted by impervious area,
But in any event it would be nice if people would remember the above concept is valid even if they don’t like development.

February 13, 2016 9:47 am

Hang on – just a moment ago it was the parched earth soaking up rainwater – now its just the large volume of rain that rained, not the ground ‘s parchedness. Hard to keep up with the frenetic pace of hair-brained hypothesis-de-jour desperate apologies for AGW dissonating with the real world.
It calls to mind a busy roomful of middle aged ladyfolk industriously writing copy for pornography magazines. Pure fiction aimed for exciting effect and making easy money.

February 13, 2016 11:02 am

Rud , thank you for another interesting posting . If you look carefully at the Reager/JPL map you provided , the Amazon basin is indeed blue , but the Congo basin is not blue . The blue in Central-Southern Africa of that map is in the highlands of Angola/Zambia . Your rainfall map of the Congo basin does show the Congo basin north of Reager’s blue area . I am not sure if this makes any difference to your argument though ……..

February 13, 2016 2:01 pm

A skeptical attitude toward climate-change claims is healthy; simplistic proofs of “physical impossibility” are not. Groundwater storage is by no means solely a matter of river drainage rates, as assumed here. Nor is the deep-blue area in the first figure within the Congo Basin. It lies primarily in Angola and Zambia, which are drained by other rivers. Sea level rise is an enormously complex process, which remains largely enigmatic even in the face of expert explanations, let alone those of geophysical novices.

Frederik Michiels
February 14, 2016 3:52 am

i never have taken the GRACE/conclusions analysis seriously.
GRACE measures gravitational anomalies, but doesn’t point to a cause of these changes. There are even changes in gravitational fields due to natural changes (so not all changes are due to a mass gain or mass loss. the best one is where GRACE pointed out that the antarctic was losing ice, while recent studies proved this wrong and that the antarctic as a whole was gaining ice.
That made me to the conclusion that how the data from GRACE is interpreted is “guess science” based on what they think is causing these anomalies, based on an incomplete set of facts.

February 14, 2016 12:29 pm

There is no ability for the Amazon basin to retain extra ground water for years as JPL claims; it is already saturated.
Your essay would be enhanced if you could supply evidence/citations in support of those assertions. The fact that you can observe water flowing along the surface does not imply that soaking into deeper and deeper layers has ended.

Reply to  matthewrmarler
February 14, 2016 2:55 pm

MM, you make a good point. There was a simple answer (a figure) in the original essay that I omitted when hurridly throwing this post together so AW could get it reasonably close to the original post. My apologies, as inclusion would have resolved your quite proper comment.
The rainfall at Manaus over the last 100 years averages about 2300mm/year. Yup, 2.3 meters per year, for a hundred years. There is literally no way a recent increase could have increased soil saturation as depicted, under the observed rainfall conditions. The bathtub was already full.

February 15, 2016 6:04 am

If it’s raining more, doesn’t that imply more clouds, and aren’t clouds a strong negative feedback?

February 15, 2016 11:45 am

Is this the equivalent of having a bet both ways again? AGW causes sea level to rise faster than under normal conditions, but it also causes sea level to rise less fast than would be expected under the influence of AGW. In other words, what we’re observing is sea level rise under normal conditions? The entire catastrophic climate change camp has tied itself in knots trying to maintain the scam and yet conform with observations.

Wim Röst
February 16, 2016 5:24 pm

Soil water content increases by CO2:
‘The analysis also showed that elevated carbon dioxide significantly enhanced soil water levels in drylands more so than it did in non-drylands, with soil water content increasing by 9 percent in non-drylands compared to 17 percent in drylands, Wang said. Determining the mechanisms of stronger soil water responses in drylands will require further investigation.’
Source: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/02/16/study-increased-carbon-dioxide-is-greening-deserts-globally/

February 17, 2016 5:04 am

hum …
what are we talking about ?
0.71 mm/year during 13 years, that’s 10 mm of water over 360 E+6 km²
let’s suppose that amazon and congo basin soak 10% of that : 360 E+6 km²mm
Since they sum around 9 E+6km², that’s 45 mm of water. Impossible ? not so. it’s less than a couple of week of rain during “dry” season, a few days during “wet”. draining just have to take not much longer, and that’s it

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