Busted claim: data shows that climate induced sea level rise didn't wipe out five Solomon Islands

The sea levels of the Solomon Islands are rising of 7-10 mm yr-1 only by cherry picking

Guest essay by Albert Parker

Albert, Leon, Grinham, Church, Gibbes & Woodroffe recently published in Environmental Research Letters [1] a paper claiming the “rates of sea-level rise in the Solomon Islands over the past two decades are amongst the highest globally, averaging 3 mm yr−1 since 1950 and 7–10 mm yr−1 since 1994” echoing wrong claims by others. This “evidence” of 7-10 mm yr-1 sea level rise due to man-made global warming is what is then trumpeted in catastrophic press releases such as [2, 3]. Titles obviously catastrophic “rising sea levels blamed for wiping out five islands”. The leading author declares “the Solomons was considered a sea-level hotspot because rises there are almost three times higher than the global average”. However, as always with the claims of “Intergovernmental experts”, the right numbers are at the most one fourth of the claim

The alarmistic claim originates from riding the positive phase of the inter-annual, decadal and multi-decadal oscillations typical of the sea levels over a cherry picked short time window of 10-15 years, neglecting what was measured before 1994 by another tide gauge in pretty much same location, and also neglecting what has been measured in the same tide gauge since 2009.

Short records do not permit to clear the trend of the inter-annual, decadal and multi-decadal oscillations [4-8]. In the Solomon Islands there is no tide gauge long enough to infer a proper trend. However, the information available permits to dismiss the alarmist claim of 7-10 mm yr-1 rate of rise.

The high quality Revised Local Reference (RLR) data set of the PSMSL [9, 10] includes the two tide gauges of Honiara II and Honiara B.

Both tide gauge records are short, about 20 years long.

Honiara B is part of the “substitutional evidence” of the Pacific Sea Level Monitoring (PSLM) project [11].

Honiara II ceased operation 5 months after Honiara B started operation, and it is forgotten since then.

The data of Honiara B are updated every year in PSMSL [10], and every month in PSLM [12] where in addition to the monthly average mean sea level (MSL), also the monthly minimum and maximum are provided.

No leveling has been performed for Honiara B vs. Honiara II to permit the construction of a composite record that could have lowered and made more reliable the sea level rise estimation. However, both tide gauges were recording during the year 1994 for 5 months, August to December. The differences in between the RLR data for Honiara B and Honiara II are 355, 357, 355, 356 and 359 mm. Therefore, we may shift one time series vs. the other of 356 mm to obtain the composite record of Fig 1.

sea-level-honiara

Fig. 1 – MSL in Honiara B and in Honiara II. Data from [9] and [10]. Honiara II is shifted of 356 mm vs. Honiara B to make a composite record, as the RLR data of the two tide gauges overlap of 5 months during 1994 with a stable delta of about 356 mm.

Starting from July 1994, the start of the Honiara B record, the rate of rise of sea levels increased up to April 2009 when it reached a maximum of 9.25 mm yr-1. The 15 years’ time window is insufficient.

After April 2009, the rate of rise since July 1994 started to decrease and it is now +5.50 mm yr-1. The time window of 21 years is still insufficient. Only focusing on Honiara B the only possible statement is the apparent rate of rise is +5.50 mm yr-1 (and not 7-10 mm yr-1) but this number is not significant.

Also including Honiara II, starting from December 1974 the rate of rise is +2.81 mm yr-1. The time window is now 42 years long, still insufficient, but certainly more reasonable. Considering 60-70 years of data are needed to start understanding a trend in sea levels, very likely these +2.81 mm yr-1 are still an overestimation of the relative rate of rise.

The editorial board and the reviewers should certainly pay more attention to extravagant claims of sea level rises of 10 mm yr-1 that are based on short cherry-picked periods.

 


References

1. S. Albert, J. X. Leon, A. R. Grinham, J. A. Church, B. R. Gibbes and C. D. Woodroffe (2016), Interactions between sea-level rise and wave exposure on reef island dynamics in the Solomon Islands, Environmental Research Letters 11:054011.

2. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-07/rising-sea-levels-blamed-for-wiping-out-five-islands/7392986

3. http://phys.org/news/2016-05-sea-level-islands-solomons.html

4. A. Parker (2013), Oscillations of sea-level rise along the Atlantic coast of North America north of Cape Hatteras, Natural Hazards 65(1):991-997.

5. A. Parker (2013), SEA-LEVEL TRENDS AT LOCATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES WITH MORE THAN 100 YEARS OF RECORDING, Natural Hazards 65(1):1011-1021.

6. A. Parker, M. Saad Saleem & M. Lawson (2013), Sea-Level Trend Analysis for Coastal Management, Ocean & Coastal Management 73: 63–81.

7. A. Parker (2013), MINIMUM 60 YEARS OF RECORDING ARE NEEDED TO COMPUTE THE SEA LEVEL RATE OF RISE IN THE WESTERN SOUTH PACIFIC, Nonlinear Engineering. 3(1):1-10.

8. A. Parker & C.D. Ollier (2016), COASTAL PLANNING SHOULD BE BASED ON PROVEN SEA-LEVEL DATA, Ocean and Coastal Management. Doi: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2016.02.005.

9. http://www.psmsl.org/data/obtaining/stations/1373.php

10. http://www.psmsl.org/data/obtaining/stations/1861.php

11. http://www.bom.gov.au/pacific/projects/pslm/

12. http://www.bom.gov.au/ntc/IDO70061/IDO70061SLD.shtml


Added by Anthony:

This graph from the 2007 IPCC AR4 report is quite interesting, it shows that in the Solomon Islands region, in blue on the map, sea level was declining and was clearly linked to the Southern Oscillation Index.

IPCC-AR4-figure-5-20

Figure 5.20. (a) First mode of the EOF decomposition of the gridded thermosteric sea level time series of yearly temperature data down to 700 m from Ishii et al. (2006). (b) The normalised principal component (black solid curve) is highly correlated with the negative Southern Oscillation Index (dotted red curve).

They write:

An EOF analysis of gridded thermosteric sea level time series since 1955 (updated from Lombard et al., 2005) displays a spatial pattern that is similar to the spatial distribution of thermosteric sea level trends over the same time span (compare Figure 5.20 withFigure 5.16b). In addition, the first principal component is negatively correlated with the Southern Oscillation Index. Thus, it appears that ENSO-related ocean variability accounts for the largest fraction of variance in spatial patterns of thermosteric sea level. Similarly, decadal thermosteric sea level in the North Pacific and North Atlantic appears strongly influenced by the PDO and NAO respectively.

Source: https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch5s5-5-4-1.html

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141 thoughts on “Busted claim: data shows that climate induced sea level rise didn't wipe out five Solomon Islands

  1. A more plausible explanation for land loss is the slow degradation of coral reefs by human intervention.
    • Coral-destructive extraction of goods (coral for aquarium, lime, curio and collection of sand, stone
    and rubble) contributed 8 – 22% of the TEV at the coral trade communities and less that 5% of the
    TEV at the non-coral trade communities.

    • A more plausible explanation for land loss is the slow degradation
      Or the chosen islands are sinking. Islands sink and rise all the time in the Ring of Fire. It’s geology.

      • no, it can’t be geology, it must be meteorology, er… climate… or whatever… Bush’s fault…

      • “Islands sink and rise all the time in the Ring of Fire”
        Yes, but hardly the explanation in this case. The interesting thing is that the southern group of islands they studied near Rendova, where no islands have “sunk” actually did sink quite a bit in the 2007 and 2010 earthquakes:
        http://geophysics.eas.gatech.edu/people/anewman/research/papers/Newman_etal_GJI_2011.pdf
        https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232783950_Rupture_across_arc_segment_and_plate_boundaries_in_the_1_April_2007_Solomons_earthquake
        It all points to sea-level being unimportant in the process. Remember that these are all sandy barrier islands which are always changing in size and shape and moving in response to wind and weather. You will always be able to find some that are disappearing, and some that are new. Since the study are baselined on old aerial photographs any new islands in the area are automatically eliminated. Neat.

      • My biggest fear is an Island tipping over into the sea especially if you have to many people standing on one side of the Island – Oh the horror!
        Hank Johnson (Congress D-GA Dimwit ) – Warns Guam May Capsize – YouTube
        Video for Will Guam tip over with too many people?
        ▶ 2:49

        The whole island will become so overly populated …
        Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson (Democrat) said during an Armed Services Committee hearing last week that Guam is in danger. My fear that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize, he said in all seriousness.

    • The most likely cause is a major earthquake (8.1 Richter) in the Solomon Islands which occurred in 2007. There are earthquakes all of the time in this region (in fact, you can find a daily update of earthquake activity in the Solomon Islands. There have been 270 earthquakes in the past year (Between Richter 1.5-7.0).
      Of the 33 islands analyzed in this report, Twenty are barrier islands on the eastern side of Santa Isabel Island and twelve are on the fault ridge line, near Roviana Island (between New Georgia Island and Rendova Island.)
      All eleven of the islands which are showing reduction in size are among the barrier islands on the eastern side of Santa Isabel. Plus, of the time periods studied, the only one that shows any significant change in those islands is the 2002 – 2014 time period. The other time periods show very little change:
      http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/11/5/054011/downloadFigure/figure/erlaa21eff3
      In 2007, Ranongga rose by 10 feet in the massive earthquake. (Ranongga is ~ 30 miles up the ridge line from Rendova.) In 2011, Rendova was also hit by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Here is a sketch of the 2007 Earthquake.
      http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/tsunami/solomon07/images/tectonic_small.gif (The small island southeast of the epicenter is Rendova; the word “epicenter” is over New Georgia, and Ranongga is the small island northwest of the epicenter. Santa Isabel Island is the larger island due east of New Georgia.)
      The key is that the major cause of island erosion in this region is shifting ocean currents. These shifts usually occur as the ocean shifts from La Niña to El Niño. The major change between 2002-2014 suggests that the ocean current changes as a result of the 2007 Earthquake played a significant role in these ocean current shifts.

  2. Well the important word in Sea Level Rise, is ….. level …..
    As in water seeks its own level.
    Ergo, the sea level (change) cannot be different from place to place.
    G

    • “Ergo, the sea level (change) cannot be different from place to place.”
      Of course it can. If you look at backwater curves of a reservoir, you will see how much water level can vary over a few miles. With the vastness of the oceans, the rotation of the earth, wind and the gravitational pull of the moon, water can stack up in certain places for years. Throw in subsidence and upthrust of continental plates and the picture gets really murky. Global sea level is kind of like imaginary numbers… I’m sure they have their uses, but I’ve forgotten what they are.

      • Yes but that is generally fixed, as water is gravitational flat, one inch here is also one inch at a wind blown high spot.

      • Gravity is not perfectly flat. Continents tend to pull waters towards them. Also gravity changes as the magma beneath the crust shifts around.

      • its the time base issue. Other than that we are left with saline levels which impact heavily in regions such as the Med but temperature, wind and barometric impact are rinsed out with time.

      • I’ve watched the coffee in my coffee mug get cold over a matter of hours. (first sip tasted yucky).
        And so far, I have never observed it to rise in one part of the mug more than another.
        The bigger the area of water I watch the more it sloshes around for one reason or another, but it never seems to build up anywhere to the point where it starts running out from someplace. It always seems to go back down flat again in due course.
        G

      • Consider the circumference of the earth is 21,600 nautical miles (one per minute of longitude.)
        A nautical mile is 1852 meters, so that makes the diameter : 21600 x 1852 / pi = 12733414 meters.
        Now imagine a one inch diameter ball bearing ball, that is spherically smooth to 10 micro inches roughness, which is one part in 100,000.
        So on the surface of the earth that roughness is 127 .33 meters which is almost 418 feet.
        So yes, I believe earth’s “sea level”, is a damn side smoother than the best ball bearing ball ever made.
        G
        Sea level is quite level.

    • Sea level is nowhere the same. From memory only, sea level on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal is a couple of meters higher than the Atlantic side.
      I once saw a radar map of the Pacific taken by satellite that showed the ocean bottom contours in reverse on the surface due to gravitational changes. The greater the depth, the higher the water humped above it.

      • expat – you state that “sealevels are nowhere the same”. You are right but that is exactly why we have the word “eustatic” i.e. to indicate all the relative sea level differences which go up and down in tandem. In the case of coral islands, each island is a living process all taking place to keep the corals alive. You will find that after each storm surge happening during the cyclones the height of sands will be shifting all over the island – some going up – some going down. Not a place for sensible human beings to build a house. The islanders of old were sensible : they did not build with permanent materials. They just built another grass hut at a higher location. But these days clever outsiders have persuaded them to use “proper” materials, such as wood, concrete or steel. And build tarsealed roads and big hotels on those shifting sands. And now those same clever, scientifically educated outsiders are convincing them that sea level rises are dangerous. They have forgotten that sea levels have risen over 100 meters in only 14,000 years – raising their islands up at the same time. If you can put up with the inconvenience coral islands are the safest places to be when sea levels go up.

      • yes but gravity still distributes evenly, one inch added at a low spot also gets added at a high spot. Think!!!!!!!!!

      • “yes but gravity still distributes evenly, one inch added at a low spot also gets added at a high spot. Think!!!!!!!!!”
        Actually NO, not at all. Because the Earths gravitational field is NOT a neat spheroid. Water released from melting glaciers for example is very unevenly distributed because of self-gravity effect of icecaps see maps here:
        http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/372/2025/20130336
        The same applies to thermosteric sea-rise. The ocean does not heat by exactly the same amount everywhere and at all depths.
        And then there are long-term changes in ocean currents, winds, average barometric pressure, tides (yes they change over time) and ground water-level on continents (which affects sea-level directly and by self-gravity effects). And so on.
        “Sea level rise” is very variable, even without factoring in that land is almost always rising or sinking as well.

      • Cheers Andy E, the only part of what you have said that I found odd was that “In the case of coral islands, each island is a living process all taking place to keep the corals alive.” I would have thought Corals managed an existence within these processes as opposed to the processes being motivated by the continued existence of Coral.

      • The sea level on planet earth is more level than the surface of the finest ball bearing ball that was ever made.
        G

    • George,
      I have posted this link on here a few times just to show that measuring ‘Sea Level’
      to the Millimetre is pure ‘Fantasy’.

      • What a great overview! Thanks.
        I’m a metrics guy myself and I’m always amused by absurd claims of accuracy in the “paleo record” of temperature and carbon dioxide. Now I have another arrow in the quiver so to speak 🙂

      • Can’t remember if I heard the joke on here…man starts work at the Natural history Museum on Monday, showing children round the exhibits. On Tuesday, his boss hers him saying, “…and this dinosaur skeleton is 65 million years and one day old.”
        His boss takes him aside and says “Why are you saying that?”
        The new guy looks perplexed. “Well, on Monday you told me it was 65 million years old, so on Tuesday it must be 65 million years and one day old?”

  3. Der Spiegel has an article on this, http://bit.ly/1O9H60d. Basically a geodesist, Valerie Ballu, from Paris, measured the rise and or fall in the Solomons. Her measurements indicate that the fall was mainly from shifting tectonic plates. Also, earthquakes and tsunamis are fairly common in the area because the Australia plate is moving under the other plate.
    This is part of the Ring of Fire, which includes New Zealand, California, Japan and Papua New Guinea as a rough outline. Islands rise and fall over time in this area all the time.

    • Correct for nearly every atoll-infested archipelago in the Pacific. Atolls ARE A PRODUCT OF RELATIVE SEA LEVEL CHANGE. And anything on the overthrust slab of a subduction zone is going to bounce around uncontrollably. But the “Scientists who say” seem to conveniently ignore plate tectonics.

    • @ Jack, 1:02 pm. Don’t forget the coast of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and all of Alaska and Kamchatka!! ( Those included would make a “ring”.)

    • Indeed, the Solomons are volcanic and probably are on the upper plate above a subduction zone where the Pacific Plate is being subducted under the Australian Plate. Such areas are notorious for rising slowly as stresses build and adjusting downwards potentially several meters in a few tens of seconds when the stresses are released in a massive earthquake. In April 2007, there was a magnitude 8 earthquake centered about 350km NW of Honiara where the tidal gauges are located. The earthquake epicenter was apparently near the area where the missing islands were located.
      OTOH, the description of the shoreline recession, etc seems somewhat inconsistent with the affect of a single tectonic event. And I’m not convinced, as I often am, that the authors of the paper are complete fools. They might be reporting accurately. I would add however, that trying to interpret sea level rise in a tectonically active area seems to me to be unlikely to yield useful results.

  4. “The editorial board and the reviewers should certainly pay more attention to extravagant claims of sea level rises of 10 mm yr-1 that are based on short cherry-picked periods.”
    They should. But they won’t.

    • Well, sine they are going to disappear in the next year or whenever, I will gladly purchase all of them for a small purchase price.

  5. I thought the pacific Islands were doomed-
    “Tourism
    www2.fiu.edu/~harveyb/tourism1.html
    Most of the Pacific Island countries are making efforts to increase tourism”

  6. The authors have accomplished their goal. They have published and pushed an agenda on national news. Your reply, while cogent and accurate, will never make the news. Until we figure out how to overcome that barrier the truth about sea level, temperatures, etc. is irrelevant. I despair.

    • How about a market based approach? These unfortunate islanders must be desperate to escape their fate. I would be prepared to make a reasonable offer for beach front property.

      • John Harmsworth commented: “. .I would be prepared to make a reasonable offer for beach front property …”
        I understand there’s an outfit in China that can make them more permanent and habitable.

  7. Whilst the article examines data to show whether sea level data is accurate is there before and after satellite photos which shows that five islands have disappeared. If they have in fact disappeared what is the reason that they have disappeared and others haven’t . Isn’t the discussion about global warming not Solomon Islands warming which must surely be a hot spot for CO2 emissions?

    • True.
      Even if you use the exaggerated number of 10mm/y, the study period was only 69 years. That is 0.69m. Any island that will be inundated by 0.69m of sea level rise was already toast. King tides and storms would have already been washing over the island on a regular basis.
      Someone else suggested that this area is in a tectonic subduction zone. If that is the case, that could explain part of the reason this area seems to have more sea level rise. Of course, “rise” is not the correct term when some of the change is the land is dropping.

    • “Whilst the article examines data to show whether sea level data is accurate is there before and after satellite photos which shows that five islands have disappeared. If they have in fact disappeared what is the reason that they have disappeared and others haven’t?”
      Here ya go. It’s about erosion from waves. From the Scientific American article about the five islands:
      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sea-level-rise-swallows-5-whole-pacific-islands/
      “Twelve islands we studied in a low wave energy area of Solomon Islands experienced little noticeable change in shorelines despite being exposed to similar sea-level rise. However, of the 21 islands exposed to higher wave energy, five completely disappeared and a further six islands eroded substantially.”

    • The reason why those islands have “disappeared” is that they are not real islands – and that they have not disappeared. They are shifting piles of coral sands which come and go with the various storm surges happening during cyclones. Each island is a living process which helps coral species to survive. The islands aren’t meant for human habitation – I certainly wouldn’t choose to build my home on such shifting sands – however, every man for himself.

    • Whilst the article examines data to show whether sea level data is accurate is there before and after satellite photos which shows that five islands have disappeared.

      Not exactly that. But they do show a satellite photo of one island with several past shorelines suprimposed. My take. The Guardian article is (no surprise) crap. But the paper itself isn’t obvious garbage

  8. The assertion that sea level rise is overstated (leaving aside the 10mm exaggeration) is flawed (I think). By definition if there is insufficient data to establish what the trend is, the reality may be either higher or lower than the initial estimate.

  9. What I see in figure 1 is no increase from 1974 to 2016 the duration of the chart.
    In fact, it is lower now (2016) than the first few years of data from the 1970s !
    Like the Maldives…no problem in reality.
    Big problems in the IPCC fantasy world.

  10. Solomon Islands is a very complicated place. Lots of tectonic microplates. Earthquakes and volcanoes and tsunamis. The 2007 tsunami was notable for the shoreline damage it did. Stuck in the middle of the west Pacific Warm Pool, where variation in thermosteric rise affects sea level change at ENSO and PDO time scales.
    Was researching SLR today relative to a different discussion. The literature says 50-60 years is the minimum to know a reliable SLR trend. Based on differential GPS, there are only about 25 truely geostationary long record (>50 years) tide gauges. Found a 2009 masters thesis from USF about using diff GPS tide gauges to correct for orbital and instrument drift uncertainty in satellite altimetry measurements of SLR. There are only about 70 long record tide gauges world wide with a diff GPS land motion measurement within 100 km, let alone at the tide gauge itself. GPS allows subtraction of land motion to get SLR only even if land is not geostationary. None are in the Solomon Islands. Closest are in Australia.
    Interestingly, even the lead author of this sketchy SLR paper has complained publically how MSM has amped it to climate change. Specifically complained about Guardian and WaPo reporting. Was reported earlier today on Google News.

    • The 2007 tsunami is an interesting point. The study simply did a comparison of islands bearing vegetation from 1947 and again now. These tiny islands that have disappeared could be completely explained by that single tsunami.

      • The thought had occurred…but I cannot be sure cause could not quickly locate detailed pre/post maps. They must exist somewhere. Only found a longish USGS discussion on what and why.

      • JC, did some more research looking for maps. Nope.
        But did find more on the 2007 tsunami. Now, Solomons tsunamiwave height depended on distance from epicenter, shoaling angle to shore, and shore angle to wave. So, dunno generally. But the max Solomon impact per USGS was 12 meters! Bigger than what killed hundreds of thousands in Indonesia? Only killed hundreds due to diverse nature of Solomon Islands. Wipe out a few low lying vegitated islands? Easy.

      • There are two main groups of islands in the study — one set of twelve between Rendova and New Georgia and another set of twenty small barrier islands. on the east coast of Santa Isabel. All of the islands reported losing land (or disappearing) were among those barrier islands, not those near Rendova.
        Unless I’m mistaken, the tectonic ridge (on which Rendova is located) rose during the 2007 8.1 earth quake. The press reported that Rainongga rose by 10 feet — Rainongga is on the same ridge as Rendova. Fifty people on Rendova were killed in the tsunami triggered by the 2007 quake. (Tsunamis also occurred in 2010 & 2011)
        The islands the Santa Isabel barrier islands were not struck by the Tsunami. They were protected by Santa Isabel. But they were almost certainly affected by changing ocean currents following these major earthquakes.

    • Thank you Ristvan, earthquakes are a common event in the Solomons, 276 in the last year alone.
      Link to http://earthquaketrack.com/p/solomon-islands/biggest
      Whether or not this accounts for the smaller island sinking, due to subduction, larger ones rising to to overiding is not described in the article.
      The land around Honiara has several terraces of coral, 100 metres or more high rising to the west of the city.

  11. But, but, but….an island in Cape Cod sank and produced Man-mad Climate Change refugees! The entire island was evacuated. People floated their houses across the bay. The island DISSAPPEARED! It only appears now at low, low tides. The horror…your SUV…and your voracious appetite for coal…you haters!
    Oh, wait….that happened beginning in 1878, and the last resident left in 1912….
    Never mind. It must have been the horse manure and methane…..?
    http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/billingsgate-island

  12. BTW, best estimate using those ~25 or ~ 70 is not less than 2mm/year, not more that 2.2mm / yr (lower with longer records). Those values come close to erasing the Closure Problem: sat altimetry SLR is greater by about 1/3 than the sum of estimated ice sheet loss (ICESat plus GRACE) and thermosteric rise (ARGO). Closure at ~2.4mm/year with the old GRACE Antarctic ice loss estimates, closure at ~2.2mm/yr with the new observational rather than modeled GIA input Grace estimates require, with the corrected GRACE now much closer to Zwally’s 2015 analysis of IceSat. Climate Audit posted on this not too long ago, but did not connect to the SLR closure problem discussed at length in essay PseudoPrecision.

    • The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) does great work. I send them money every year at least. It’s the only outfit I know that consistently wins cases like these.

  13. 7–10 mm yr−1
    What does this notation mean? I could expect 7 to 10 millimeters per year, but what is the -1 hanging on the end?

    • The minus one exponent means the year is in the denominator. So it is 7-10mm/year, or mm PER year.

      • The problem being, of course, that wordpress mangles html and won’t let you do superscripts using: yr<-1>
        In any event, people who wish to be understood should write in a manner that most of their intended audience can understand.

  14. Fine work, Albert Parker.
    Sea level rise, it’s all our fault, again. Except, in the real world.
    Guilt trip after guilt trip.
    Sometimes, the guilt, it’s just so, so… never enough to make me want to acquiesce to fools.

  15. 10 mm/yr! That’s like 40 inches / century.
    The Guardian interviewed a Solomon Islander. The Guardian is a highly accurate, not-Marxist, not propaganda rag.
    “Sirilo Sutaroti, 94, is among those who had to relocate from Nararo. He told researchers: “The sea has started to come inland, it forced us to move up to the hilltop and rebuild our village there away from the sea.”
    Sirlo’s old village was waterfront. His village’s fishermen decided to move to the “hilltop” located a mile inland, 40 inches elevation above the old village, because they watched American TV PX90 infomercials and decided they needed 2 miles extra exercise, walking, because fishing didn’t provide enough exercise.
    Sirlo convinced his tribe that even though the waterfront would not reach the hilltop for 80 years, it was smart to plan ahead, for the great-grandchildren’s sake.

  16. I’m no expert, but It seems to me that Corals, by their nature only grow to just below the waterline. The islands are the product of wind, waves and ocean silt. Why is anyone surprised that the windward side of the islands are eroding while the leeward side are not. I was reading the actual article in ERL and was non-plussed to read, “Change in the twelve islands in Roviana was mixed with six islands growing slightly (<20%) …"
    http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/5/054011

  17. Thanks for your analysis, Albert. Actually, regarding their claims, it’s Worse Than We Thought™.
    First, they are not talking islands as we understand islands. They are talking low-lying transient sandbars on a coral substrate. These appear and disappear, and like all sand bars and coral atolls, they are constantly changing their shape. As they point out, the centroid of a number of the islands are moving …
    Next, I dispute the claim that all of them have lost area. I say that they have picked the ones that have lost area and are ignoring the others. They say that “the majority” are losing area … but they don’t discuss the others, and they don’t say how large the “majority” is.
    Next, there is this uncited claim:

    While there is significant interannual variability,
    the tide gauge and altimeter data indicate a rapid rise
    in sea levels in the Solomon Islands between 1994 and
    2014 of about 15 cm ( average of 7mmyr−1)

    This is absolute hogwash. As you point out, they are splicing datasets to get these numbers. You show the PSMSL data for the capital, Honiara, on the island of Guadalcanal. There are two stations, one with data up to 1994, and the other with data since then. Coincidence? I doubt it … actually, looking further at the study, I see that they have also included the bogus satellite sea level data, which starts in 1992 and includes the specious addition of 0.3 mm per year due to claimed ocean bottom sinking. Gosh … would that look like acceleration? Sure ‘nuf … statistical sleight of hand.
    It’s even more pathetic because the currently active tidal station is one of the Aussie “SEAFRAME” gauges. Unlike the earlier sea level record, the SEAFRAME installations contain colocated GPS data, so it simply cannot be compared to the earlier data without such an adjustment.
    Finally, the entire area is tectonically active. It sits right smack on top of the Pacific “ring of fire”, and there was an 8.1 !!! magnitude quake in 2007 within a few miles of about three-quarters of the islands studied. During the quake, some reef areas fell as much as 60 cm (two feet!!). D’ya think that might have changed the currents around any sandy islets? Because I sure do … and in addition there was a huge tsunami following the quake. This put 2-3 metres of water onto the land in many areas, and these tiny coral islands are not over a meter in height …
    Overall? It’s the usual alarmist claptrap. They are shocked, shocked I tell you, to make the startling discovery that islands and coastal shores erode, and that tsunamis can wash away small piles of coral sand …
    w.

    • I posted this elsewhere yasterday
      ‘Using time series aerial and satellite imagery from 1947 to 2014 of 33 islands, along with historical insight from local knowledge, we have identified five vegetated reef islands that have vanished over this time period and a further six islands experiencing severe shoreline recession. ‘
      http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/5/054011
      1947? – Way before AGW/ CC.
      According to University of Colorado Sea level Wizard the sea level anomaly has gone from a low in 1993 -26.01cm to a high in 2008 +21.35cm and now 2016 -17.89cm. There was also a low in 1998 of -33.06cm.
      http://sealevel.colorado.edu/cgi-bin/table.cgi?q=content%2Finteractive-sea-level
      Those years curiously correlate to El Nino and La Nina events.’

    • Just a few more observations.
      1. The claim that sea level rise significantly or measurably increased erosion doesn’t appear in the paper. Or does it – where? The mandatory alarmist rhetoric is there of course, but I can’t find any strong or even weak claim about SLR’s importance relative to other factors.
      The paper says that wave energy “can” interact with SLR to increase erosion, but nothing there seems to rule out the possibility that SLR’s role is insignificant or opposite.

      Centroid shifting … suggests erosion is not solely a result of sea-level rise… Wave energy … may be a key driver of the rapid coastal recession in the Solomon Islands. Further work is required to determine the relative importance …

      The Conclusion section just says there’s a “critical need to understand the complex interplay” between various factors.
      2. Figure 3 shows that areal changes only barely exceed the error margin, and only for the period 1962-2002 (not 1947-1962, not 2002-2014). During this period the Roviana group of islands increased, the Isabel group decreased in area.
      3. If you compare two satellite photos from different decades, how do you know the minuscule changes aren’t just tidal, seasonal, or short-term wind effects?
      4. The two sites which did have some human settlements were villages picked about 100 and 300 km away from those island groups, other side of Solomon Islands.
      5. Nuatambu Island didn’t lose 51% of its area, but apparently less than 5% (Google maps approximation). To get the bigger number, the paper only looked at a small section of the island. What the section exactly is or why it was picked isn’t explained apart from the words “village area” (Table 1 footnote).
      6. “Nuatambu Island is a small double islet made up of three basalt hills. Two are joined by a strip of sand that is under water during high tides.” (Sheppard 2006). The “houses” that got washed away were on this strip of sand. Seems unlikely that they’d even expect it to be a static enough formation to live on permanently. The “half of the village destroyed” was these, about ten huts or sheds. The 51% of habitable area seems to be pretty much that strip of sand.
      7. For the second village Mararo it’s worse. Apparently there is no data whatsoever given about it. No area, no percentage. The only thing we know is basically this anecdote:

      In Mararo village on eastern Malaita relocation as a result of coastal erosion has been more orderly with the entire community making the decision to relocate from the coast to a high elevation site 20 m above sea level.

      8. Other factors: widespread logging and dynamite fishing has been documented in nearby areas. They can have a detrimental effect on corals. Perhaps the most obvious drivers of erosion weren’t even mentioned in the paper.
      9. The claim of Taro township relocating due to climate change seems dubious in light of some comments from the government representatives: “The relocation is inevitable to secure enough land space for expansion of the township, promotion of investment and boosting local business growth.” and “It’s considered to be so small that it’s run out of room for development, and this is the reason for the land negotiations.” (Google it)
      10. There is growing evidence suggesting that Pacific coral islands have accreted in absence of direct human interference. Why would Solomon Islands be an exception?

      • “1. The claim that sea level rise significantly or measurably increased erosion doesn’t appear in the paper. Or does it – where?” — It’s in the title of the paper and the abstract,
        “Low-lying reef islands in the Solomon Islands provide a valuable window into the future impacts of global sea-level rise. Sea-level rise has been predicted to cause widespread erosion and inundation of low-lying atolls in the central Pacific. … Rates of shoreline recession are substantially higher in areas exposed to high wave energy, indicating a synergistic interaction between sea-level rise and waves.”
        In the paper, this is basically a fallacy of false cause (“Sea level has risen and islands have disappeared. Coincidence? I think not.”) It’s like point out that we have all been aging while the earth is getting warmer and concluding that global warming causes aging.

  18. The damage is already done. The sheeple will never see any news stories to counter today’s disinfo. The disinfo goes viral and that’s what sticks.

    • I post the debunking facts all over the place 😀 I feel the urge to get these rebuttals out there, cant help myself 😀

    • J48. Not completely. In the long run, this will be shown for the BS it is. Another object lesson.
      And now we learn even the study authors are protesting the MSM reporting.

  19. One would assume that people understand that there is one Pacific Ocean, and that any rise would be, eventually, on average, the same everywhere.So any data showing one specific spot exhibiting higher than average ocean rise would be explained if one studied the locale , etc. But noooooo……!!!!

  20. I have requested CNET post a retraction. Even without one, the comments I left will certainly get any readers to start thinking outside of the CAGW box. Maybe even get some to see the fraud for what it is.

  21. The area of the Solomons is a tectonic traffic jam.
    http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/southeast_asia/papua_new_guinea/PNG1.jpg
    As you can see it is being pushed NNE by the expansion centre to the south and the Australian plate, while the Pacific plate is moving in on it as well. The black triangles show the Solomons plate is subducting beneath the Woodlark, the South Bismarck and the Pacific plates.
    Of course as we all know, it’s all that extra CO2 pushing it down… right? 😀

    • Well done. It’s fairly obvous from all this confusion that neither the warmists nor the skeptics, and especially not journalists, know much at all about Earth science.
      As for the scientists, would their claim against an accusation of fraud be that they did not know that that Solomons Plate is active and that sea level is changing faster than the global average because the land is subsiding? Would their defence be lack of intent by reason of incompetence?
      Will the authors retract this misleading paper?

      • McCaffrey, Robert. Slip partitioning at convergent plate boundaries of SE Asia, in Hall, R. & Blundell, D. (eds) 1996, Tectonic Evolution of Southeast Asia. Geological Society Special Publication, No.106, London. pp. 3-18.
        See: Solomons and New Hebrides, p. 13 and Figure 7(a) p. 14. Convergence vectors range from about 8 to 10 cm per year. Slip vectors appear to average 5 to 7 cm p.a. These values indicate relatively rapid movement.
        Robert McCaffrey is at Portland State University. URL: http://web.pdx.edu/~mccaf/pubs.html
        The confusion caused by this paper cannot be attributed solely to the ignorance of journalists. No journal should accept a paper on sea level change in the Solomons that does not partition relative sea level movement into absolute movements of land and sea.
        As for the authors, even undergraduates learn the difference between relative and absolute sea level change. A study of this nature should never have been mounted without input from an expert on the tectonics of the region.

  22. According to the data in the article, the sea level there is actually lower today then it was in 1974.

  23. Honiara-B to March 2016:
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Y3R4zlJmfhY/VzJ32WCnYgI/AAAAAAAACkE/O4VFk0xQO-wc-hlKqHTOSedDuwCimlNxQCCo/s1600/Solomon_2772_image001.gif
    Dip at the end is due to the current El Niño.
    GPS (limited data) here:
    http://www.sonel.org/spip.php?page=gps&idStation=2054.php
    Levelling data, between tide-gauge and GPS benchmark here:
    http://www.sonel.org/spip.php?page=nivellement&idStation=2133#
    – click on the picture to see location of benchmarks. This is typical of the care taken by the Pacific Sea Level Monitoring Project:
    http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/projects/spslcmp/data/monthly.shtml

  24. History and science will back Tony Heller as the real scientist who broke the back of AGW sorry

  25. Ya know, I read an article that said it was sinking at around 4x the speed the sea was rising around it… according to GPS.
    The problem is that since it’s in deep ocean the currents going past it can have drastic effects on “sea level”

  26. Well it’s good to know that the alarmist notion that the 5 islands have disappeared due to 10mm/year of sea level rise, but primarily erosion related, as the original paper finds, to the ENSO, and the energy of ocean waves on top of sea level rise, has been debunked.
    I’m sure the displaced communities are much relieved to discover that the 5 islands have disappeared and another 6 have halved in size due to 6mm/year of sea level rise, but primarily erosion related, as the original paper finds, to the ENSO, and the energy of ocean waves.
    They can go back to the loss of their communities and the world to the loss of the ecological communities much disabused of this alarmist propaganda.
    It’s truly offensive how alarmist scientists have exaggerated the loss by mentioning the local sea level rise as estimated from only one tide-guage, when an article such as this could have fully explained the nuances and its inclusion would have only doubled the length of the flawed press release.

    • Coastal erosion and sea level rise have been occurring since the oceans were 120metres lower, 20,000years ago. The current rate is unremarkable and not perceptibly accelerating. Not according to analysis of the one long term reliable unadjusted record which we have – coastal gauges.
      Yes, people on the coast will notice erosion and occasional flooding, as they always have done.
      Former civilizations and vast regions of formerly inhabited land now lie beneath the waves.
      In that context, these alarmist articles are ONLY propaganda, hype and deception.
      They do not lack nuance. They paint an entirely false image of reality in the minds of readers.
      And this deception and all the others are going to be used to justify absurd and harmful public policy decisions which will in reality harm mankind.
      The deceptions do not need nuance. They need to stop publishing outright deceptions in the first place.
      (P.S. I assumed that almost everything that you posted was in a sarcastic tone. My comment is not.)

    • Seth, According to the guardian report=
      ‘The scientists said the five islands — Kakatina, Kale, Rapita, Rehana and Zollies — that had vanished were all vegetated reef islands up to five hectares (12 acres) that were occasionally used by fishermen but not populated.’
      Dry your tears.

    • Surely the problem is the half-million square metres of land that has disappeared, including 5 entire islands.

      • Don’t you mean half a TRILLION square millimetres of land has disappeared? (For added shock value!!)
        Let’s remember that 1km x 1km is 1 million square metres. So we are talking about the equivalent of half a kilometer by one kilometer.
        But don’t worry, Seth, because what is actually happening is that the ice sheets are retreating since 20,000years ago and sea level is rising.
        We’ve actually gained some very valuable real estate where there were formerly 1km thick ice sheets – e.g. New York. But lost some low value real estate such as these islands. So a net win.
        At some point it will switch back to glaciation and extreme cold, and then the ice sheets and some new islands will return.
        You can’t have a perfect static world where nothing happens – because – climate change.
        The alarmists seem to be the only ones who are alarmed every time that they discover a change caused by the world’s changing climate.

      • indefatigablefrog wrote Don’t you mean half a TRILLION square millimetres of land has disappeared? (For added shock value!!)
        I used the measurement units from the paper for ease of calculation and checking. If that offends you, I strongly suspect that the problem might be with you.
        indefatigablefrog wrote Let’s remember that 1km x 1km is 1 million square metres. So we are talking about the equivalent of half a kilometer by one kilometer.
        Do you think those who have been displaced would be comforted by this analysis. If so, perhaps you could inform them. They could do with some comfort right now.
        indefatigablefrog wrote But don’t worry, Seth, because what is actually happening is that the ice sheets are retreating since 20,000years ago and sea level is rising
        The GRACE measurements don’t go back that far. What ice sheet mass data are you using?
        indefatigablefrog wrote At some point it will switch back to glaciation and extreme cold, and then the ice sheets and some new islands will return.
        Not at current atmospheric CO2 levels.

  27. “This graph from the 2007 IPCC AR4 report is quite interesting, it shows that in the Solomon Islands region, in blue on the map, sea level was declining”
    I don’t think it represents a sea-level state at any particular time. The top plot is a plot of an EOF – a mode of variaation. As such it is anyway just part of the total sea level signal, and would have to be multiplied by the phase factor in the bottom graph. It is the thermosteric component, meaning that they have separated out the part due to temperature change (in 0-700m).

  28. “Dr. Simon Albert, the report’s co-author told the Guardian today that numerous media outlets, like the Washington Post and NY Times and Think Progress, have misinterpreted their work by trying to link sea level rise with climate change. According to Albert, the researchers did not study climate change and how it influences shoreline erosion and submersion of certain low-lying islands.
    That didn’t stop numerous mainstream media outlets from jumping to the erroneous conclusion that these five sunken islands were further proof of climate change. This completely misconstrues the actual science and what the study really says, Albert said. “The links between climate change and the sinking of five islands in the Pacific Ocean have been exaggerated,” he says.”
    http://www.examiner.com/article/sinking-solomon-islands-and-climate-link-exaggerated-admits-study-s-author
    The usual conflation of what science says and the interpretation of it in the Media here I see.
    Rapidly followed by the usual.
    One day denizens *may* realise that the two are not the same.
    Just like WUWT is not science but a *view* of it.
    And so it goes on.
    A polarisation of views because of the misrepresentation of science and by extension, scientists.
    Who, of course, “no nuffin” according to many on here.
    BTW: Thanks Willis for the heads up on this.

    • The comments section in the Grauniad about this correction, make for interesting reading. The Faithful are having a full on, frothing at the mouth fit, that the Grauniad’s reported the author’s saying that it isn’t proof of CAGW!

  29. Conducted an experiment last night; placed a ruler part way into a glass of water – then measured. Moved the ruler further into glass and measured. Bugger me if that water in the glass didn’t rise 20 mm. My hypothesis was proven. Expect publication of results soon – I’m still gathering more data.

  30. There are many things that are odd about this paper.
    One is what is the point of it? Who funded it? The authors say the Solomon Islands are a great place to monitor impacts of sea level rise which is odd considering the tectonic movements in the region and yet at the same time distancing themselves from climate change as thought they already know this.
    Two is that the inset B in the PDF containing the 20 main islands at risk almost exactly matches one of the few areas near the Solomon Islands on Google Earth where satellite imagery is too low res and fuzzy to tell if islands are showing erosion. Coincidence? (conspiracy theory 101)
    Three, As far as I can tell they have only offered one historic 1945 photo of an island compared to present, but rather opted to draw lines of past island size and location on the other islands from other aerial photos not listed.
    Four, they must have known this would be taken up by the media as proof of AGW frenzy so I wonder if this was deliberate to get airtime and then distance themselves afterwards.
    Five, is the headline from the Guardian article repeated in other outlets,

    Five tiny Pacific islands have disappeared due to rising seas and erosion, a discovery thought to be the first scientific confirmation of the impact of climate change on coastlines in the Pacific, according to Australian researchers.

    My comment on this is how come it is the first scientific confirmation? What have all the other “debate is over” and “Science is settled” confirmations been then?
    But what the Authors of the paper actually said was

    Conclusion
    This study represents the first assessment of shoreline change from the Solomon Islands, a global sea-level rise hotspot.

    I think this article and media response could be a useful tool in the future when highlighting media bias, but sadly I fully expect to come across people months and years from now quoting this as proof of AGW.

    • FYI — the funding source is listed in the paper (as required): “The support of the Solomon Islands Government and communities of Mararo and Nuatambu is greatly appreciated.” The Solomon Islands is among many Pacific governments seeking international support for climate mitigation.
      Also note, this paper was published in the infamous “Environmental Research Letters” Journal which also published the “97% consensus” paper for John Cook.
      Also note, the Guardian retracted the extreme headline for this study — http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/10/headlines-exaggerated-climate-link-to-sinking-of-pacific-islands
      “Many media outlets, including the Guardian, jumped to the conclusion that the islands were lost to climate change. But this largely misinterprets the science, according to the study’s author, Dr Simon Albert.
      “All these headlines are certainly pushing things a bit towards the ‘climate change has made islands vanish’ angle. I would prefer slightly more moderate titles that focus on sea-level rise being the driver rather than simply ‘climate change’,” Albert told the Guardian.:
      To be fair, I think Albert is also overstating the conclusion that the islands were lost because of a sea-level rise as opposed to erosion from shifting ocean currents.

    • The tectonic characteristics of this area make it incredibly inappropriate as an area to study in my opinion. In fact, it makes the background of this choice more interesting than the subject matter. Apparently they chose to perform a study of very local sea level change in a place where almost any result could be found just by moving a few miles in any direction. How do they explain this and who paid for the study? What was the value of this work?

  31. I’d just like to warn anyone tempted to visit the Guardian to correct any misconceptions that may have come up on this topic; don’t bother.
    After about five hours of politely engaging anyone with questions and pointing them to real information, the three posts I made of substance (as in containing citations and etc) were deleted by the moderator. The only thing that remained of that work was banter.
    The Guardian has no intention of becoming a vehicle for information exchange.

  32. Clear and strong opening sentences keep readers reading and persuade. For example, this article could have started with:
    “The claim that the Solomon Islands are being swallowed by CAGW is false as it intentionally conceals that the island’s current sea level is mostly due to regional tidal fluctuations that naturally occur over long periods of time.”
    Now your reader knows what to expect and can more easily absorb the details as he reads. This kind of writing isn’t a mystery novel where the point should be revealed at the end. Give it up front. Maybe my proposed sentence isn’t quite right and, if so, that just reinforces my point that readers are groping around for the exact point. Don’t make us do that. We are stupid and lazy (or at least non-scientists with day jobs demanding our attention between internet surfs).
    Okay, sorry. Just a suggestion from a lawyer who has been trained to write persuasively for an audience of sometimes low intellect, low motivation, and/or hostile attitude. I don’t mean to pick on this article in particular. It is something I notice a lot in scientific writing, including on this site and elsewhere.

    • I like your restatement but honestly, a lawyer complaining about clear and concise writing is sure a stretch!

  33. The reference they use for sea level change in the Solomon Islands is similar to the map from the Climate.gov website.
    http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/sites/report/files/images/web-large/HI_sea-level_V4_0.png
    You can see a bright red spot over the Solomon Islands — this refers to the period of 1993-2010.
    That being said, without reference, the map is worthless. This area varies widely with ENSO and tectonic activity — neither of which is climate related. (Note: the paper does not suggest that the sea level change is not related to climate change.)

  34. So now they are blaming increased winds on CAGW, and claiming that erosion is due to these increased winds. They just will not stop moving the goal posts.

    • It’s the wind Jeff. And the sea level changes that push the goal posts around. And thermal expansion! I forgot thermal expansion. And maybe ice melting somewhere. But that’s it!

  35. “The alarmistic claim originates from riding the positive phase of the inter-annual, decadal and multi-decadal oscillations typical of the sea levels over a cherry picked short time window of 10-15 years.”
    So let me see if I have this straight. Picking data over short intervals of 10-15 years is not ok when used by believers in AGW to show rising seas. But a short period of 10-15 years is OK when used by skeptics to show that warming is not occurring, as has been done with RSS data.

    • That is a false logic argument Chris. I believe the author’s point is that Short time intervals are unsuited to show long term trends, or changes in long terms trends (here the argument that SLR is “increasing.”)
      The 18 year pause (your most likely reference to “data over short intervals”) is not used by Skeptics to “show that warming is not occurring,” but merely to point out in recent times natural variability has overshadowed warming, despite increasing levels of CO2, and this is important to show the alarmists models’ unaccounted for divergence from reality.
      After all, If the model can’t accurately predict the short term natural variability in climate, why should we believe it can accurately predict the long terms effects of climate?
      Said another way, AGW theory depends on correlation being a substitute for causation. Lack of correlation means you need a new theory.

  36. “In the Solomon Islands there is no tide gauge long enough to infer a proper trend.”
    There are tidal charts dating back to the 1800s for that region. What are you talking about?
    Also, what, exactly, are your credentials here? Are you a data scientist? A climatologist?
    [what are yours, other than a first name only nobody? – mod]

    • Dear Andrew.
      The only thing a “tidal gauge” and a “tidal chart” have in common is the first five letters.
      Incidentally it is perfectly possible for informed laypersons to understand and evaluate scientific matters. Unfortunately you do not belong in that category.

      • Don’t be rude — sometimes it is not clear.
        Andrew — the point is that there are many tidal gauges, but there are no accurate records which are comparable over the long period of time. Splicing multiple gauges together adds to the error and long term trends become very difficult. That’s why the graph at the top of the page is in three colors.

  37. george e. smith May 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Consider the circumference of the earth is 21,600 nautical miles (one per minute of longitude.)
    A nautical mile is 1852 meters, so that makes the diameter : 21600 x 1852 / pi = 12733414 meters.
    Now imagine a one inch diameter ball bearing ball, that is spherically smooth to 10 micro inches roughness, which is one part in 100,000.
    So on the surface of the earth that roughness is 127 .33 meters which is almost 418 feet.
    So yes, I believe earth’s “sea level”, is a damn side smoother than the best ball bearing ball ever made.
    G
    Sea level is quite level.

    George, while that is indeed true, the sea level on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal is about 20 cm (8″) higher than on the Atlantic side … from the PSMSL:

    3. Is sea level of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans the same? If so why are locks required in Panama? Sea level is about 20 cm higher on the Pacific side than the Atlantic due to the water being less dense on average on the Pacific side and due to the prevailing weather and ocean conditions. Such sea level differences are common across many short sections of land dividing ocean basins.
    The 20 cm difference business is determined by geodetic levelling from one side to the other. A datum called Panama Canal Datum is used. When you use spirit levelling you follow a ‘level’ surface (to our perceptions, see 1) which will be parallel to the geoid (which is geometrically a ‘lumpy’ surface). The geoid is the surface of constant gravitational potential (plus a ‘centrifugal potential’ term) which on average coincides with the sea surface i.e. a ‘level’ surface in everyday language.
    The 20 cm difference at Panama is not unique. There are similar ‘jumps’ elsewhere e.g. Skagerrak, Indonesian straits. If the canal was open sea and not locks (i.e. if somehow a deep open cutting had been made rather than the canal system over the mountains) then there WOULD be a current flowing from Pacific to Atlantic. An analogy (although not a perfect one because there are many other factors) is that you could compare Panama to the Drake Passage off the south tip of Chile which has a west-east flow (but mostly wind-driven of course, but Pacific-Atlantic density must play some role).

    In other words, the claim that sea level is the same everywhere is simply not true.
    Regards,
    w.

    • “Is sea level of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans the same? If so why are locks required in Panama?” {facepalm}
      The locks are in the Panama canal, because the canal takes ships through a series of lakes. Those lakes are considerably higher than the oceans (by about 50-80 feet). Nobody cared about the 20 cm difference between the oceans when they built the canal.
      In fact, they would have been more than happy to drain the lakes and destroy the local ecology. After all, there were pretty ignorant about such things in the early twentieth century and had no trouble draining wet lands all over America. Then they would have had to dig down all of those feet beneath those muddy lakebeds to allow for ship traffic — and nobody wanted to do that.
      http://www.githy.com/img/Panama_canal_crosssections.jpg

      • “{facepalm}”
        The quoted section is incomplete. The question is answered. The next para begins:
        “Locks are needed in the Panama Canal because the canal climbs over the hills and makes use of mountain lakes…”

  38. Andrew May 11, 2016 at 11:08 am

    “In the Solomon Islands there is no tide gauge long enough to infer a proper trend.”

    There are tidal charts dating back to the 1800s for that region. What are you talking about?

    “Tidal charts”?? As a long-time seaman, I’m not clear what you mean by this. If you mean “tide tables”, which show the CALCULATED height of the tides for different times of day throughout the year, yes, we have those. However, they say nothing about sea level rise.

    Also, what, exactly, are your credentials here? Are you a data scientist? A climatologist?

    You miss the point of science. The question is never “What are the credentials of the man who said that gravity decreases proportional to the inverse square of the distance”? There is only one valid question—is the claim valid or not?
    Anyhow, here are my credentials:
    I learned to sail small boats as a boy, and at twelve years of age I was single-handing an eleven-foot open sailboat around San Francisco Bay. Our family also had a twenty foot catamaran, and later on a fourteen-foot keel boat, both of which I either singlehanded or sailed with my brothers and parents.
    I began commercial fishing as a crewman at the age of 21. I started out fishing with lampara nets for pompano out of Santa Cruz, California. Then for two years I fished for anchovy, again with lampara nets, out of Moss Landing. I spent a season fishing albacore on a bait boat out of Sausalito. Then I spent two seasons gill netting for roe herring in San Francisco Bay. I fished a season purse seining for roe herring in the Bering Sea in Alaska. I fished a season using a beach seine for surf perch. I fished a season as a partner in a leased sixty-foot steel sailboat out of Richmond, California. I fished three seasons as a partner/owner of a sailing fishing boat, trolling for salmon on the central California coast. I fished two seasons in Bristol Bay in Alaska, gill netting for salmon. I also worked as a sport salmon fishing guide on the Kenai River, which requires a Coast Guard Inland Waters Captain certification.
    Other than commercial fishing, I have sailed and power boated extensively. I built my first sailboat in Hawaii, a twenty-one foot Cape Ann sailing dory, and sailed it in Hawaiian waters. My longest blue-water trip was 142 days as the first mate sailing a fifty-foot staysail schooner from Hong Kong to California. Later I bought and single-handed a twenty-one foot sloop from Seattle to San Francisco. I was also employed by a group hired by the Fijian Government to serve as skipper of an open twenty-eight foot boat on a research voyage around the Central and the Lau Group in Fiji. I later served as the navigator on a voyage from Fiji to Tonga in an eighty-foot tramp steamer. And most recently, I was first mate on the delivery of a forty-five foot converted trawler from Canada to Oregon, all the while towing a twenty-six foot trimaran behind the boat.
    For three years, I lived on a remote coral atoll in the Solomon Islands, where I ran a shipyard for large boats, a slipway, and a machine shop. We also built small aluminium skiffs. So I am familiar with all phases of boat construction and repair. I also independently calculated and commercially published annual tide tables for the country, because the Solomon Islands Government rarely got around to publishing the yearly tables before September or so …
    In addition, in the Solomons I was responsible for the operation and repair of two coastal trading ships. I regularly drove a small open skiff across the seventeen miles from the island to the nearest town for supplies and mail. I am an accomplished diver and a (less-accomplished) surfer, with open-water I and II dive tickets and rescue diver certification, so I have provided and/or driven the boat on many diving and surfing trips. I also lived for three years on a houseboat in Fiji, commuting to my job on shore every day by boat.
    But you know what? NONE OF THAT MATTERS IN THE SLIGHTEST. I can be just as wrong about the ocean as the next man, and you can be sure I have been . The only relevant issue is whether what I say holds water or not …
    w.

    • You know Willis, I’ve always both enjoyed and respected your articles on this site, but I had no idea you were so well qualified. None at all. You have a gift for communicating your ideas in terms almost anyone can understand.
      My life took a different route, but if I have anything to say about it, my next trip around the great wheel will be a bit more like yours 🙂

    • All that may be so Willis, but if you’re not a Hollywood actor, why should we listen to you? ( whatever a sarc tag is )

  39. I think this story is a good thing. I think that or this story to work, they had to reveal too much info. All the articles state that average ocean rise is 2.5mm/y. Even the most dense person can realize that this is not catastrophic. And when they had to post updates, I think anyone paying attention will start to question the bias.

    • I hope you’re right, Jeff. I see elements in this that look like a calculated deception.

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