What if NASA’s new ocean satellite finds sea level rise isn’t the problem it’s touted to be?

New satellite set to launch this year will make the most accurate sea level measurements yet – or so they claim – Anthony

Mission team members perform acoustic tests of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite in a chamber outfitted with giant speakers that blast the spacecraft with sound. This is to ensure that the high decibels associated with liftoff won’t damage the spacecraft.
Credits: Airbus

From NASA Goddard:

Once the state-of-the-art Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite launches in November, it will collect the most accurate data yet on sea level — a key indicator of how Earth’s warming climate is affecting the oceans, weather and coastlines. But first, engineers need to ensure that the spacecraft can survive the rigors of launch and of operating in the harsh environment of space. That’s where meticulous testing comes in.

At the end of May, engineers finished putting the spacecraft — which is being built in Germany — through a battery of tests that began in November 2019. “If it can survive all the abuse we deliberately put it through on the ground, then it’s ready for space,” said John Oswald, the mission’s deputy project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft is a part of the Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission, a joint U.S.-European effort in which two identical satellites will be launched five years apart. The spacecraft will join the Copernicus constellation of satellites that constitutes the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme. Once in orbit, each satellite will collect sea level measurements down to the centimeter for 90% of the world’s oceans. The data will add to almost 30 years of information gathered by an uninterrupted series of joint U.S.-European satellites, creating an unprecedented — and unbroken — 40-year sea level dataset. The spacecraft will also measure the temperature and humidity of Earth’s atmosphere, which can be used to help improve weather forecasts and hurricane predictions.

These measurements are important because the oceans and atmosphere are tightly connected. “We’re changing our climate, and the clearest signal of that is the rising oceans,” said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at JPL. “More than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is going into the ocean.” That heat causes seawater to expand, accounting for about one-third of the global average of modern-day sea level rise. Meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets account for the rest.

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite sits in front of a testing chamber

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite sits in front of a testing chamber where mission team members tested whether the spacecraft could endure the loud sounds it will encounter during launch.Credits: Airbus

“For climate science, what we need to know is not just sea level today, but sea level compared to 20 years ago. We need long records to do climate science,” said Willis.

Six scientific instruments are key to that task. Two of them will work in concert to measure the distance from the satellite to the ocean’s surface. That information — combined with data from three other instruments that precisely establish the satellite’s position in orbit and a sixth that will measure vertical slices of the atmosphere for temperature and humidity — will help determine sea levels around the world.

Put Through Their Paces

To ensure that the scientific instruments will work once they get into space, engineers sent the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich to a testing facility near Munich and ran the satellite through a gauntlet starting in November 2019.

First up: the vibration test, where the engineers subjected the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite to the kinds of shaking it will experience while attached to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasting into orbit. Then in December, engineers tested the spacecraft in a big vacuum chamber and exposed it to the extreme temperatures that it will encounter in space, ranging from 149 to minus 292 degrees Fahrenheit (65 to minus 180 degrees Celsius).

The next two trials took place in late April and May. The acoustics test, performed in April, made sure the satellite could withstand the loud noises that occur during launch. Engineers placed the spacecraft in a roughly 1,000-square-foot (100-square-meter) chamber outfitted with enormous speakers. Then they blasted the satellite with four 60-second bursts of sound, with the loudest peaking around 140 decibels. That’s like standing next to a jet’s engine as the plane takes off.

Finally, in the last week of May, engineers performed an electromagnetic compatibility test to ensure that the sensors and electronics on the satellite wouldn’t interfere with one another, or with the data collection. The mission uses state-of-the-art instruments to make precise measurements, so the smallest interference could compromise that data.

Normally, JPL engineers would help to conduct these tests in person, but two of the trials took place after social-distancing safety measures had been established due to the coronavirus pandemic. So team members worked out a system to support their counterparts in Germany remotely.

To account for the nine-hour time-zone difference, engineers in California pulled shifts from midnight to 10 a.m. for several weeks, consulting with colleagues in Germany through phone calls, video conferences, chat rooms and text messages. “It was confusing sometimes, keeping all the channels and groups going at the same time in the middle of the night, but I was impressed with our team,” said Oswald.

The upshot of all that effort? “The tests are complete and the preliminary results look good,” Oswald said. Team members will spend the next several weeks completing the analysis of the test results and then preparing the satellite for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for launch this fall.

About the Mission

Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS is being jointly developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with funding support from the European Commission and support from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).

The first Sentinel-6/Jason-CS satellite that will launch was named after the former director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, Michael Freilich. It will follow the most recent U.S.-European sea level observation satellite, Jason-3, which launched in 2016 and is currently providing data.

NASA’s contributions to the Sentinel-6 mission are three of the science instrument payloads for each of the two Sentinel-6 satellites, including the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the Global Navigation Satellite System – Radio Occultation, and the Laser Reflector Array. NASA is also contributing launch services for those satellites, ground systems supporting operation of the JPL-provided science instruments, the science data processors for two of these instruments, and support for the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team.

To learn more about NASA’s study of sea level rise, visit:


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June 16, 2020 2:29 pm

Just don’t get any software code from UN agencies or their contractors.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 17, 2020 12:43 am

said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at JPL.

Well, if the data shows sea level rise is less than required, I’m sure we can count of Josh Willis to meticulously go through all the data and remove any data points which are causing problems.

Clearly his work removing unwanted cooler ocean temperature data from 2006 has put him in line for a stellar career in climate “science”.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Greg
June 17, 2020 4:11 am

go through all the data and remove any data points which are causing problems

No, that will be too much work. You can program it in.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Rainer Bensch
June 17, 2020 9:49 am

Speaking of causing problems, it is good to know that pumping out aquifers is not a causing a problem:

“That heat causes seawater to expand, accounting for about one-third of the global average of modern-day sea level rise. Meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets account for the rest.”

Well, that’s settled then. IR backscatter is entering the oceans by miraculous means and causing them to warm (it’s not increased solar insolation). Pumping out the great Saharan and Central US Ogallala aquifers, or from the plains of India, has no effect of sea level. Perhaps that is the water that fills the increasing depth of the great ocean basins.

It is great to know we have overturned those earlier radiative and volumetric misconceptions.


Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
June 17, 2020 8:04 pm

According to Argo, the heating of the oceans has only been about 0.01C. Of course they measure this with instruments that are rated as +/- 0.5C and haven’t been recalibrated since they were launched several years ago.

Reply to  Greg
June 17, 2020 8:54 pm

NASA should’ve been DEfunded within 10 years of John Glenn riding in ISS. Instead, we’re stuck with this blob. $26 trillion in debt, it’s time to pull the plug. Edison didn’t work at a Federal Administrative Agency, but he still did great things.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 17, 2020 6:06 am

The equipment is meaningless because the people who own it can not be trusted.

Average temperature is also a meaningless number since it is not a measurement — it is a statistic including lots of guesses (infilling) — and no one lives in the average temperature.

We have had mild global warming since the late 1600s — no one was harmed — the warming was good news.

Most people expect global warming to continue
but have decided, with no evidence, that future warming MUST be bad news … because they say so.

Some scientists began predicting a climate crisis in the late 1950s — but they have been wrong for 60 years.

It’s long past the time to stop.believing climate forecasts and the silly computer games presented as “proof”.

June 16, 2020 2:33 pm

What if NASA’s new ocean satellite finds sea level rise isn’t the problem it’s touted to be? Gee, that’s easy, they’ll do the same as they did when temperatures didn’t rise like they were supposed to – “adjust” past records.

Reply to  Art
June 16, 2020 3:18 pm

Well if that happens, clearly we’ll have to use the computer modeled sea level calculations rather than the measured ones, because they are obviously more accurate.

Or the satellite may just have a “major malfunction” a week or two after the offending data starts to pour in.

Reply to  wws
June 16, 2020 4:14 pm

They need to have UAH monitor, record and display the data… NOT those crooks at

Trust in Univ of Alabama Huntsville not Columbia Univ NYC.

Reply to  UV Meter
June 16, 2020 6:30 pm
Reply to  UV Meter
June 16, 2020 9:18 pm

“They need to have UAH monitor, record and display the data… NOT those crooks at”

1. UAH does not post their raw data
2. UAH adjust data but do not release their adjustment codes.
3. Over the history of UAH, there have been numerous FIXES that have in some cases
totally reversed the trend they found.

Trust no one.


If a PI refuses to release the raw data and the adjustment code, ignore their work.
That would be UAH

Bryan A
Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 16, 2020 10:19 pm

UAH could Adjust 2.14 until it was PI

Graham Balderson
Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 16, 2020 10:33 pm

Yes, but they double check their results against balloon data and it agrees. That is more than you can say for the others which are, by and large, flights of fancy.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 18, 2020 2:28 am

Mosher, you are lying, as demonstrated by Willis further below. The question is why. Do you have the answer?

Reply to  Art
June 16, 2020 4:51 pm

it won’t…they will find it’s 10 feet higher than they though

..and it’s worse than they though

(of course, the rest of us in the real world…that live on the ocean…have not noticed one damn thing different)

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Art
June 16, 2020 5:12 pm

Or “recalibrate” the instrument

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
June 17, 2020 11:47 am

I seem to remember they had to recalibrate Jason 1 & 2 (or was it Topex?) a couple of times before they got the answer they wanted ?? They kept getting zero sea level rise.

Reply to  boffin77
June 17, 2020 9:23 pm

Nils Axel Morner claims:

At the Moscow global warming meeting in 2005, in answer to my criticisms about this “correction,” one of the persons in the British IPCC delegation said, “We had to adjust the record, otherwise there would not be any trend.” In other words, the actual data did not show sea level rising at all. I replied: “Did you hear what you were saying? This is just what I am accusing you of doing.”


Reply to  Ric Werme
June 18, 2020 10:22 am

Thanks, Ric, for reminding us of this.
Note in Morner’s first-page summary: “The raw data from the TOPEX/POSEIDON sea-level satellites, which operated from 1993-2000, shows a slight uptrend in sea level. However, after exclusion of the distorting effects of the Great El Niño Southern Oscillation of 1997/1998, a naturally-occurring event, the sea-level trend is zero.

Don K
Reply to  Art
June 17, 2020 5:07 am

“What if NASA’s new ocean satellite finds sea level rise isn’t the problem it’s touted to be?”

At 3mm a year(about a foot a century), it’s not the problem it’s touted to be now. So it isn’t likely that things will change. However it’s possible that the new satellite and its predecessor in five years may provide some useful insight as to why satellite sea level change estimates are consistently about 50% higher than estimates derived from tide gauges. … Or not.

Reply to  Don K
June 20, 2020 9:37 am

The satellite has centimeter accuracy and sea rise is in mm. How exactly is this going to tell us anything in time to be useful?

Reply to  Art
June 17, 2020 11:10 am

They’ll what’s always been done: recalibrate it to cherry-picked tidal gauges.

Colin Smith
Reply to  Art
June 18, 2020 6:51 am

If the satellite does not find rising sea levels, this will be proof that historical data is too high and needs to be lowered. In fact it will be found to be worse than we feared.

Reply to  Colin Smith
June 18, 2020 7:00 am

Yep, lack of evidence always proves “it” is worse than we feared! More money needed.

June 16, 2020 2:35 pm

You mean like the BOM’s Australian Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Project
“The project is designed to monitor sea level around the coastline of Australia. The ultimate goal is to identify long period sea level changes, with particular emphasis on the enhanced greenhouse effect on sea level.”
Yes well what an embarrassing waste of taxpayer’s money . . .
So embarrassing they stopped the yearly reports in 2011

Adam Gallon
Reply to  Warren
June 16, 2020 3:09 pm

Then went to “Annual climate reports” , then for 2016 “Annual climate statement”, which make no mention of sea level rise.

Reply to  Warren
June 16, 2020 5:40 pm

Hi Warren,

just happened to be passing and noticed this. I decided to follow up on Adam’s reply and there is info charted to June 2012 (format changes for July …) called ‘Sea Level Trends’ which, if I had to guess, did not look scary enough (or meet the expectations of the accelerating sea rise meme). Not doubt the Ex-CSIRO legend will be along shortly to explain why. Anyway, flat as a pancake (or similar analogy where appropriate).

Wobbled a little at the start (early ’90’s), then the algorithm managed to tune itself to kind of ‘rising’ (late ’90’s) and then in the early 2000’s started falling (significantly at some measuring stations) and has been unremarkable since 2005/2006.

My tax dollars at work.



Reply to  Andy
June 16, 2020 7:13 pm

Yes ‘deceleration’ has been the BOM’s worst nightmare!
The longest continuous Australasian/NZ records, Fremantle and Auckland, situated on the western and eastern periphery of the Oceania region, respectively, exhibit remarkably similar trends in the relative 20-year moving average water level time series after 1920. Both time series show a rise in mean sea level of approximately 120 mm between 1920 and 2000 with strong correlation (R2$0.93) to fitted second-order polynomial trend lines that reflect a tendency toward a general slowing in the rise of mean sea level (or deceleration) over time on the order of 0.02–0.04 mm/y2. The Fort Denison water level time series after 1940 similarly reflects a decelerating trend in sea level rise at a rate of 0.04 mm/y2based on a strongly correlated fit (R250.974) to the second-order polynomial function. This decelerating trend was also evident in the detailed analysis of 25 U.S. tide gauge records longer than 80 years in length (Dean and Houston, pers. comm.) and a general 20thcentury deceleration, driven predominantly by the negative inflexions around 1960 evident in many global records, are well noted in the literature (Douglas, 1992; Holgate, 2007; Wood-worth, 1990; Woodworth, Mene´dez, and Gehrels, pers. comm.)

Reply to  Warren
June 16, 2020 7:23 pm

Sorry about the scrambled math symbols; see Researchgate link for clarification.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Andy
June 17, 2020 12:29 am

Flat as the Nulabar Plain

Leo Smith
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
June 17, 2020 1:22 am

No, it’s not the Nu Labour plain, its the Nullarbor plain…:-)
It’s still flat dull and mainly red tho.

Reply to  Leo Smith
June 18, 2020 2:04 am

Cleva Leo!

Charles E Garner Jr
Reply to  Warren
June 16, 2020 6:20 pm

Look at the last report to see the cumulative data and why they stopped.

June 16, 2020 2:37 pm

To answer the question posed by the title of the post …. nothing will happen. Unless the data from the satellite supports the AGW theory the results will be hidden just like the OCO satellites.

Reply to  markl
June 16, 2020 2:54 pm

It is peculiar that the only result from OCO has been just a colorful graphic. JPL presents monthly lectures (available online) on planned future missions and results from past or ongoing missions. There is a prelaunch presentation on OCO from 2014 but nothing about results.

Smart Rock
Reply to  markl
June 16, 2020 7:31 pm

No worries on that score. They have a card up their sleeve called the GIA. Global Isostatic Adjustment. Supposedly the ongoing isostatic rebound from the LGM is causing the ocean floor to sink in places, which allegedly would have led to a lowering of sea level, but is overwhelmed by thermosteric expansion and ice-cap melting that gives the net SLR.

So if the GIA says sea level would have fallen by x, and the satellite measures an actual sea level rise of y, their “net” SLR will be x+y. Y is measured, but x is the result of some pretty fuzzy calculation, so can be adjusted as needed. And they usually don’t show x and y separately.

I think we can look forward to seeing a modest “worse than we thought” once the data start being downloaded and processed.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Smart Rock
June 16, 2020 8:18 pm

Smart Rock
In other words, there is a natural negative feedback loop that is compensating for the claimed increase in ocean volume. Thus, it becomes a non-problem that they are trying to keep alive by pointing out why the sea level isn’t rising as much as expected. An existential problem becomes an academic novelty.

June 16, 2020 2:39 pm

So…WE are changing the climate, and the sealevel rise or even the changes in climate couldn’t possibly have anything to do with, oh, I don’t know, that we’re still recovering from the last Ice Age? Depressed Continents or tectonic plates rebounding from a load of a couple of miles of ice? Or the variations in output of good old Sol, the center of our system?

Black Rainclouds Matter.

Reply to  Kalashnikat
June 16, 2020 7:30 pm

“Black Rainclouds Matter.”

So do white ones, and pink ones !

Reply to  fred250
June 17, 2020 1:26 am

All rainclouds matter ! ( hope that’s not being cloudist ).

June 16, 2020 2:41 pm

OK, it is structurally wrong, a slight correction will fix it,”When NASA’s new satellite data shows that sea level rise is not a problem what new lie will they desperately cling to?” You’re welcome.

Joel O'Bryan
June 16, 2020 2:44 pm

The satellite will of course make measurements (however precise or accurate those may be) of the current ocean sea level states around the world.

But you have to remember the most fundamental and basic tenet of climate scam alarmism: the Climate boogey man is always looming in future, just over the horizon based on some set of junk model outputs.

So even though this satellite, if it operates correctly, will show basically what we know from tide gauge data adjusted for the local isostasy, the oceans are rising at a global average of about 2 mm/yr to 3 mm /yr. The alarmism is always though in the distant future.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 16, 2020 3:42 pm

Or you will see headlines in gore-crow giant font:

It’s all in the presentation.

Bryan A
Reply to  Joel Snider
June 16, 2020 10:21 pm

That’s a 50% increase…I’m Terra-fied

Reply to  Joel Snider
June 17, 2020 9:21 am

Joe Snider,
Surely you mean a ‘MASSIVE RISE OF 2000000nm TO 3000000nm A YEAR! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!’

Rule 6 of the alarmist handbook —
Always state actual measurements in the least usable units, or unitary designations.

Joel Snider
Reply to  tom0mason
June 17, 2020 11:16 am

Agreed – I wasn’t nearly dramatic enough.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 16, 2020 4:38 pm

And the tidal gauge trends have been on this steady linear rise for aroubd 150 years now.

The earth’s big thermometers (the oceans) clearly indicate the presence of a 150 year linesr warming trend. They also do not show a CO2 induced change in the long term trend, so whatever has been causing the 150 year trend overwhelms whatever might be happening due to CO2.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 16, 2020 7:17 pm

New instrument. New measurements. New set of data

But like all the other past updates in instrumentation, they will just keep adjusting the past data (downwards) to fit an expected trend.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 16, 2020 9:37 pm
Peter Wilson
June 16, 2020 2:48 pm

“More than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is going into the ocean.”

Really? So the warming atmosphere is heating the oceans, despite being about 1000 times less dense. And they have measurements indicating that 90% of the atmospheric heating goes that way. Uh huh. Have they released these measurements for public scrutiny? Thats what I thought.

Reply to  Peter Wilson
June 16, 2020 4:09 pm

The people who write these articles aren’t scientists or engineers.

Anyway, 70% of the world is covered by ocean so it’s plausible that 70% of the energy is absorbed by the oceans already.

What puzzles me is the evaporation mechanism for moving heat from the equator to the upper atmosphere and the tropics. link It’s a/the most important driver of the climate and yet it gets relatively little credit.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Peter Wilson
June 16, 2020 9:18 pm

We know water has about 2500 the heat capacity of air so anyone claiming the air is warming the ocean is uninformed.

David Lilley
Reply to  Peter Wilson
June 17, 2020 2:01 am

1st DLR photon : I’m fed up ! Why do I have to be part of the 30% of back radiation heading for land ?
2nd DLR photon : Me too. Heating the land is so 20th century !
1st DLR photon : Hey, it’s a nice sunny day and I fancy a dip in the ocean. Why don’t we change direction.
2nd DLR photon : Can we do that ? I thought we had to travel in straight lines.
1st DLR photon : But this is Climate Science ™. You’re allowed to break the laws of physics.
2nd DLR photon : What if someone finds out ?
1st DLR photon : Don’t worry. They can’t measure the effect of downward long wave radiation on the oceans. So they make up the numbers they want with a computamibob. They already think 90% of us go to the oceans.

Gregory Woods
June 16, 2020 2:51 pm

To heck with computer models, now we can prove global warming with satellites. Just ask Josh…

June 16, 2020 2:52 pm

If the treatment of temperature data by weather organisations is a guide, if the sea level data is off narrative it will be adjusted and homogenised until it is “correct” Never let uncooperative data get in the way of a good narrative.

Patrick B
June 16, 2020 2:55 pm

“We’re changing our climate, and the clearest signal of that is the rising oceans” so the mission “scientist” already knows the results. Science sure has changed since I got my degree. We were taught to question our assumptions and not anticipate data or results.

Reply to  Patrick B
June 16, 2020 4:26 pm

Maybe they got this part right. None of the stable long lived tide guages shows any acceleration so the “clearest signal” is that we are not changing the climate enough to measure.

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  Patrick B
June 16, 2020 8:29 pm

Yes, you beat me to it. They already decided the answer.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
June 16, 2020 3:01 pm

Finding there is no problem? A snowball landing safely unmelted on the surface of the Sun would be a better bet than an expectation of an outbreak of honesty from the climate hysterics gravy train.

In other unexpected developments: the BBC decides to live up to its Charter, Michael Mann recants on his hockey stick, WWF announces Polar Bears are well and don’t hold your breath ….

June 16, 2020 3:19 pm

If it doesn’t produce results which conform to the expected doctrine, then it will be sidelined and forgotten much like the OCO satellite data.

Reply to  yirgach
June 16, 2020 5:11 pm

What’s the latest with those observations / measurements?

Reply to  Mr.
June 17, 2020 10:02 am

This is the last generated global CO2 map I could find from OCO-2 (Oct-Nov 2014). OCO-3, which uses the same instrument as OCO-2, has been bolted onto the ISS to take SAMs (Snapshot Are Maps). It seems that the global approach did not warrant much effort when it failed to produce enough climate doom so we are switching to the human scale in order to increase the pucker factor.

comment image

Reply to  yirgach
June 17, 2020 4:44 pm

Thanks for this Yirgach.
Here in BC I keep a couple of full SCUBA tanks on my balcony just in case the dreaded atmospheric CO2 levels suddenly spike to “worse than we thought levels” and asphyxiate the missus & me as we sleep.
Can’t be too careful in these dangerous times of “climate CRISIS”

June 16, 2020 3:28 pm

Accurate to about 1 cm?
In other words it’s going to take a decade or so until their is enough sea level rise for this thing to detect.

Reply to  MarkW
June 16, 2020 4:05 pm

Incorrect. It will give us numbers right down to the tenth of a millimeter, or even better. After application of the Stokes Averaging Method, that is.

Reply to  Writing Observer
June 16, 2020 4:59 pm

If the reading errors are statistically characterized with enough precision, it is possible to achieve much higher final resolutions than the resolution of individual readings.

Curious George
Reply to  DocSiders
June 16, 2020 6:33 pm

I am not sure that I understand. Do you mean that by using 100 thermometers each with an accuracy of 1 degree F we can determine temperature with the accuracy of 0.01F, or maybe 0.1F?

Reply to  Curious George
June 17, 2020 12:38 am

You mean you haven’t seen Stokes Averaging do that … I have seen him try and argue exactly that a couple of times.

Reply to  DocSiders
June 17, 2020 7:51 am

Assuming the measurement error is random, if you take 50 measurements of the same thing, you can average out some of the error.
The problem is that in order to do this, you have to take those 50 measurements of the same thing. In the real world, this isn’t possible.
Even calm oceans have waves. During the time that it takes, to take those 50 measurements, the ocean is going up and down, usually by more than the error you are trying to average out.

To use Stokian averaging you would need to use 50 satellites measuring 50 different places all around the world.

Reply to  DocSiders
June 17, 2020 7:52 am

And those 50 measurements need to be taken over a period of hours or days.

Reply to  MarkW
June 17, 2020 9:38 pm

Less that that unless you’re very good at handling tides.

Reply to  MarkW
June 16, 2020 4:43 pm

When I read that statement I questioned it immediately. I do not know how their machine works but , having made my living measuring property boundaries I recognize many difficulties with that project.
What do they measure to? They cannot measure it again to test your ability to repeat because it has moved. How do they compute an average over some area and know it is “the sea level”? How do they remove inappropriate measurements or account for tidal movements? It is very interesting to me but I am really skeptical of that accuracy capability.

Curious George
Reply to  DMA
June 16, 2020 6:28 pm

Not just tides. I remember seeing ocean waves higher than one inch.

Reply to  Curious George
June 17, 2020 5:59 pm

CGeorge & DMA:
And how do they account for the Earth’s oblate spherical shape where the diameter
pole-to-pole is kilometers shorter than that through the equator?
Wind, tides and currents shove water around measured in meters, while the spinning watery globe is deformed by kilometers. And they want me to believe in sub-millimeter precision for their SLR calculation? I think not.

June 16, 2020 3:45 pm

Then they will lie about the FACTS.

June 16, 2020 3:49 pm

The head of this mission has already made it clear the ‘results’ it will achieve. Confirm climate doom.

June 16, 2020 4:08 pm

Just run it through the Berkeley Earth algorithms and problem solved.

June 16, 2020 4:16 pm

Did everybody catch who the lead scientist is???
“said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at JPL”

That’s right, our old buddy Josh Willis. So where do we know him from? Well, SLR has been to topic of the day here at WUWT for quite some time, and Willis seems to have been at the center of some “data adjustment” episodes.

The short story:
NASA was looking at ocean temperature over the modern record, looking for warming which would cause SLR through expansion. There was not enough.
Willis fixed the problem in two steps.
1) Went back to the old XBT sensor data set. He decided that they were too warm (just like that), and “adjusted” them down. Helpful, but not enough, So…….
2) Looked at the current ARGO data. Some ARGO buoys show warming, some cooling. Well, you know that cooling can’t be right, so he tossed the cooling data (just like that), and kept the warming data.
Problem Solved!

Old timers here will instantly recognize the pattern for creating a warming trend by cooling the past, and warming the present. Apparently a time honored technique by now, in climate science.

Anyway, here is an article which explains all in good detail.

Note that this is the NASA website, and they portray all this in the most positive way.
I think any clear reading of this article shows one of:
A) A case of Confirmation Bias on steroids. Or:
B) The misfeasance/malfeasance endemic in current research.

Either way, I think this episode is a textbook example of what is wrong with Climate Science today.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  TonyL
June 16, 2020 4:39 pm

Yep, there seems to be three types of results…
(1) it’s as we expected
(2) it’s worth than we thought
(3) it was the opposite of what we expected, until we adjusted the results to be in-line with what we expected

Reply to  TonyL
June 16, 2020 5:16 pm

In climate “science”, too much perfidy is barely enough.

Steve Case
Reply to  TonyL
June 16, 2020 5:44 pm

Did everybody catch who the lead scientist is???
“said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at JPL”

Oh yes there’s this:


Paul C
June 16, 2020 4:31 pm

Just like all sea level data, they will adjust it. The actual sea level in relation to land doesn’t matter to them. Nor does the actual geometric sea level height above the centre of the earth. They will present it as ocean basins keep enlarging, so if the ocean basins didn’t enlarge, sea level could have been projected to rise linearly by a (worse than we thought) foot in a century. But the models say it has to accelerate so the data doesn’t matter, and we’re all DOOMED.

June 16, 2020 4:33 pm

“What if NASA’s new ocean satellite finds sea level rise isn’t the problem it’s touted to be?”

They will adjust the data of course!

tsk tsk
June 16, 2020 4:40 pm

They will look again until it does.

And again.

And again.

Here, give me that damn data!

John in Oz
June 16, 2020 4:51 pm

I started searching for the question “Can the air heat the oceans?” which led me to Dr Roy Spencer’s blog then to http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/water_vibrational_spectrum.html.

The content in the linked web site is way (way, way) above my physics level but it makes me wonder how the numerous properties of water they describe could be programmed into the ‘models’.

I have also seen scientists talk about the weirdness of water (Ted Talks) and how it is still has many properties that are not understood. How are these properties ‘parameterized’?

Javert Chip
Reply to  John in Oz
June 16, 2020 7:05 pm

Geez, John; here ya go with some NASA quality code:

If air is warmer than ocean water
warmer-than-water air will heat the water
cooler-than-water air will warm up the water
* Programming note: the cooler-than-water thing is assuredly *
* a measurement glitch, but we’re pretty sure it warms the *
* water, no matter what *

June 16, 2020 4:55 pm

The main thing is to remember that the main thing is the main thing. And the main thing is that CO2 is NOT the cause of whatever warming is or isn’t happening. The historical record (MWP, RWP, Minoan Warm Period, GISP, Vostok data, etc.) demonstrates that warming cycles happen when CO2 CAN NOT be the cause.

June 16, 2020 5:01 pm

“The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft is a part of the Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission, a joint U.S.-European effort in which two identical satellites will be launched five years apart. The spacecraft will join the Copernicus constellation of satellites that constitutes the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme. Once in orbit, each satellite will collect sea level measurements down to the centimeter”

What are the fossil fuel emissions of this enterprise of the white man just so he can measure sea level down to the centimeter and what will be the climate impacts of those emissions that the black man must bear?


Martin Howard Keith Brumby
June 16, 2020 5:23 pm

Just drop it in the Mariana Trench.
That will provide as much sea level rise as CO2 has done.

John Sandhofner
June 16, 2020 5:40 pm

What a waste of money. Man’s preoccupation with his importants in the universe. We are so powerful we can impact the earth’s climate. Get a grip guys.

Steve Case
June 16, 2020 5:41 pm

“We’re changing our climate, and the clearest signal of that is the rising oceans,” said Josh Willis,

Just so you know who Josh Willis is:

Bruce of Newcastle
June 16, 2020 5:53 pm

The Jason data averages to 3.2 mm/yr.
Which means 1 metre in 300 years give or take.
In 300 years a workman could build a 1 km levee bank 1 metre high using a teaspoon.
This hysteria is so stupid.

Mark Hansford
Reply to  Bruce of Newcastle
June 17, 2020 5:20 am

It would take 7 years for sea level rise at 3.2mm/a to equal the recommended thickness of a layer of Tarmac. So if we resurface our coastal roads every 7 years our coastal communities would be protected. Thats how ridiculous this really is. Where my family have lived for the last 58 years (within 100m of the Sussex beach here in the UK) There is no discernable difference in the low water mark of a very flat shallow beach. 185mm – 7.5″ should have made a significant impact on this line but hasnt even though we are told that Sussex is also sinking slightly because of the weight of ice over Scotland still having an effect on the tectonic plate we sit on.
From my own observations alone then I call b/s on sea level rise.

June 16, 2020 6:02 pm

Really, save the taxpayer, don’t launch the satellite (say you did) and make up whatever numbers fit the narrative.

That’s what they’ll be doing anyway.

I don’t mind fairytales, just as long as they don’t cost me anything!

Robert of Texas
June 16, 2020 6:05 pm

Sea level rise isn’t the problem…it likely never WILL be the problem within a single generation. It’s the local apparent sea level rise as compared to construction that is the problem. It doesn’t matter if the sea is rising or the currents are changing or the land is sinking – it all affects the local apparent sea level rise.

So you make actual measurements where it could be of concern and then plan your construction accordingly for the future. Wow, that was hard.

The average level of the ocean is not important except to certain scientists. And I STILL cannot see how they measure anything useful when there are waves chopping about and underwater currents that pile water up locally. It’s more of a guessing game to try to get a detailed picture from fuzzy data unless they ONLY measure areas that are flat – no wind or waves.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Robert of Texas
June 16, 2020 8:48 pm

Robert of Texas
Wind piling up water, changes in barometric pressure changing water height, waves and tides, plus a satellite that changes altitude because of differences in gravity around the globe (influenced additionally by changes in the water column), and therefore the altitude has to be estimated over oceans with a gravity model that has a spatial resolution that is much coarser than the areas being measured with a laser.

A claim of measuring to 1 cm sounds like a hoped for precision for any particular measurement, taking into account all the system variations, with an unknown accuracy as a result of all the transient variations in water height.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 17, 2020 7:56 am

They are measuring the distance between the satellite and the ocean surface with an accuracy of 1cm.
However, do they know the height of the satellite to within 1cm?

HD Hoese
Reply to  MarkW
June 17, 2020 11:37 am

Next thing you know they might discover the ocean. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01601-4
Mountain height might be controlled by tectonic force, rather than erosion.
“This finding indicates that mountain ranges are close to force equilibrium and that their height is primarily controlled by the megathrust shear force. We conclude that temporal variations in mountain height reflect long-term changes in the force balance but are not indicative of a direct climate control on mountain elevation.” https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2340-7

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
June 17, 2020 7:26 pm

I doubt it!

Timo soren
June 16, 2020 6:09 pm

For some reason it feels like that satellite looks like an old Bang and Oleson stereo I has in the 80’s

Richard M
June 16, 2020 7:43 pm

I’m interested in the measurements of the air and humidity. It sounds like we may finally be able to get a true measure of energy in the atmosphere.

June 16, 2020 8:06 pm

The moment you average data over a distance it becomes anecdotes.

The satellites don’t actually see “sea level” they see wave velocity.

Its like the old quantum problem but you’re trying to determine what breed of horse by the rifle you’re using.

Reply to  Prjindigo
June 17, 2020 1:20 am

“The moment you average data over a distance it becomes anecdotes.”

err no.

a spatial average is a prediction. testable prediction.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 17, 2020 7:25 am

Except it is rarely tested fools just seem to assume it’s always valid to do it.

Mickey Reno
June 16, 2020 8:32 pm

I’d really feel a lot better about this project if someone other than Josh Willis was in charge. As he proved with the ARGO float data, if he doesn’t like the remote sensing data the satellite returns, he’ll delete or adjust the parts he doesn’t like until his paymasters are happy. He can easily milk a millimeter or two of SLR out of any data this thing sends, and create a trend that he can claim is unprecedented, even though the big ice sheets are gone and the sea rose 120 meters as they melted, just 20 thousand to 10 thousand years ago. Once the alarming trend is accomplished, he’ll be happy, the paymasters are happy, Michael Mann and Al Gore are happy, and they’ll all go to some exotic locale and drink Mai Tais as they talk it over on our dime. But poor school children the world over will be wetting their pants out of fear.

Ian Coleman
June 16, 2020 8:36 pm

The oceans? What’s to know? They’re big, they’re wet, and I live a thousand miles from the nearest one. Last year, sea level surged upwards by three millimeters. I’m not worried.

Listen, do you think that story about Noah and the Ark is true? What do you suppose people’s sins were that God decided to drown everybody- sins that were worse than anything we’ve seen in recorded history, and which haven’t been seen since the Flood?

June 16, 2020 9:15 pm




huge bonus

SENTINEL-6 products shall provide bending angle and refractivity profiles from radio occultation observations to infer information on atmospheric temperature and humidity for weather and climate.

This takes advantage of the typical JASON orbit to deliver radio occultation with original time and space sampling

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 17, 2020 2:03 am

radio occultation??

What the heck does that mean? What is occultating what?
Perhaps NOAA and NASA covering up actual results?

Reply to  AndyHce
June 17, 2020 7:58 am

They’re dealing with the occult? When did witchcraft become a standard tool of the climate scientists?

June 16, 2020 9:27 pm

“ What if NASA’s new ocean satellite finds sea level rise isn’t the problem it’s touted to be?”

Easy, Gavin Schmidt will just make sh-t up.

Michael S. Kelly
June 16, 2020 10:02 pm

They could save all the expense of ruggedness testing by simply mailing the satellite somewhere via the US Postal Service. If it survives that, it will survive anything.

June 16, 2020 10:16 pm

It is absolutely necessary to have this new satellite. It will allow to “adjust” down old satellite readings which will allow to continue claiming that it is worse than we thought because it will exagerate current sea level rise regardless of any disagreement with tide gauges, which are, as you know, irrelevant.

Ed Zuiderwijk
June 17, 2020 2:27 am

We know that Topex and Jason measures systematically differ from groundbased tidal gauges. (For the North Atlantic the satellites say about 3mm/yr, the gauges say 1.9 mm/yr.) The difference has never been explained but must be a systematic bias in the data processing. Therefore, if the data processing for his new mission is based on that from the earlier ones, we can expect more of the same.

I for one will only believe what comes out of the mission if the data processing train has been built from scratch, with the really vital stuff about the calibrations and corrections done in twofold by two completely independent teams of developers (which are not even allowed to talk to each other). Needles to say with the software fully documented and publicly available for independent scrutiny.

June 17, 2020 3:57 am

This has to be the mother-of-all “no schist Sherlock” phrases…

But first, engineers need to ensure that the spacecraft can survive the rigors of launch and of operating in the harsh environment of space.

June 17, 2020 6:29 am

The give away is that Willis says that the satellite was built to measure the sea level “rise”.
He should have said “to measure the sea level”.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Bob Hoye
June 18, 2020 6:46 pm

Unfortunately, what he said may have been very accurate. The satellite WILL find what it was built to find! Come Hell or high water.

Tom Abbott
June 17, 2020 6:32 am

From the article: “These measurements are important because the oceans and atmosphere are tightly connected. “We’re changing our climate, and the clearest signal of that is the rising oceans,” said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at JPL.”

A ridiculous statement. There is no evidence “we’re” changing the Earth’s climate, and rising oceans are certainly not anything like a “clear signal” of such.

This is an assertion not supported by any evidence. Typical for modern-day alarmist climate science. All they have are unsubstantiated assertions. That’s not evidence. That’s not scientific. And this guy is the project scientist. Oy! As Charles says.

Climate believer
June 17, 2020 7:28 am

I saw some rather alarming statistics a while back about tin cans and bits of debris currently flying around in orbit.

Out of 5000 odd satellites there was at least 3000 not even working.

Why don’t we ever have a plan to clean up after ourselves?
Shouldn’t it be an obligatory part of the mission statement?

Reply to  Climate believer
June 17, 2020 8:00 am

Modern satellites are supposed to be able to de-orbit themselves when the mission is finished.
Older satellites did not always include this feature. Other satellites stopped communicating with the ground before they could be ordered to de-orbit.

Ian MacCulloch
June 17, 2020 7:36 am

From 14,000 BP to 6,000 BP there were advances and retreats of the sea level that far outweighed the current gentle rise that has bee going on since 6,000 BP (Fairbridge, 1960). If you happen to be wandering around Bremer Bay, WA you can come across elevated heavy mineral sands reflecting a sea level 2 metres above the current. It will be interesting when the sea level gets back to that position

June 17, 2020 9:12 am

Steven Mosher June 16, 2020 at 9:18 pm

“They need to have UAH monitor, record and display the data… NOT those crooks at”

1. UAH does not post their raw data
2. UAH adjust data but do not release their adjustment codes.
3. Over the history of UAH, there have been numerous FIXES that have in some cases
totally reversed the trend they found.

Trust no one.


If a PI refuses to release the raw data and the adjustment code, ignore their work.
That would be UAH

Steven, you know me … I tend to check claims like yours. So I wrote to Roy Spencer and asked if they were true.

His reply was:

The raw data are the orbit files kept in the CLASS satellite archive at NOAA Asheville. Available to all.
Our code is also kept there, available to all.
The trend changed after one adjustment many years ago when the trend was close to zero.

In other words, EVERY SINGLE THING YOU SAID ABOUT UAH WAS UNTRUE! Not just an error here and there. Every single one was untrue.

And you wonder why people tend to point and laugh when you show up … you gonna apologize to Spencer & Christie for libeling their good names as scientists?


paul courtney
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 17, 2020 11:24 am

Willis E.: Thank you for doing that work. My guess- Mr. Mosher will not reply here, instead he’ll post these same claims down the road. If ever he responds to posts like yours, he’ll double down and say, UAH admits it doesn’t post raw data (without explaining where it is posted, at NOAA).

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 18, 2020 6:53 pm

Another reason for Mosher’s drive-by remarks! If they are so terse as to be inscrutable, then no one can check the veracity. Thus, he can feel smug and not worry that anyone will call him on his inaccurate remarks.

June 19, 2020 4:28 pm

I am pretty sure that the agreed upon results have already been included in the paper that will announce the results to the world at a future date whenever it seems believable.

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