Scientists Counter Computer Model Sea Level Rise Fears
September 26, 2007
Posted By Marc Morano – Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov – 3:33 PM ET
Scientists Counter Computer Model Sea Level Rise Fears
Today’s Environment & Public Works Committee hearing entitled, "An Examination of the Impacts of Global Warming on the Chesapeake Bay," scrutinized computer model predictions of sea level rise fears. (LINK)
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of EPW dismissed the entire focus of the hearing. “This hearing should not have been about the impact of global warming on the Bay but rather I would propose that this hearing should have been on the Bay’s health, the pollution sources, the local economy and the water quality,” Senator Inhofe said.
Senator Inhofe detailed the latest peer-reviewed science that counters global warming led sea level rise fears.
“Greenland has cooled since the 1940’s. According to multiple peer-reviewed studies, current temperatures in Greenland have not even reached the temperatures from the 1930s and 1940s. It is important to note that 80% of man-made CO2 came after these high temperatures were reached in Greenland. We have seen global average temperatures flat line since 1998 and the Southern Hemisphere cool in recent years,” he explained. (LINK)
Dennis T. Avery, of the Hudson Institute, testified that the recent warming cycle is tied to natural climate factors.
“The natural climate cycle is apparently driven by the sun, and the warmings are unstoppable,” Avery said. Avery co-authored the 2006 book “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years" with atmospheric physicist Dr. Fred Singer.
“Previous Bay warmings include the Medieval Warming (950–1300), the Roman Warming (200 BC–600 AD), and at least two earlier Holocene Warmings since the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, that were regarded by paleontologists as warmer than today by several degrees Celcius,” Avery added. (LINK)
Today's hearing on sea level rise concerns follows an Associated Press article on September 22 which claimed a significant global sea level rise was inevitable due to mankind’s emissions. But unproven computer model predictions of sea level rise are being countered by scientists worldwide.
Below is a report from the Inhofe EPW Press Blog released on September 24, 2007.
Scientists Counter AP Article Promoting Computer Model Climate Fears
By Inhofe EPW Press Blog
September 24, 2007
Nearly two dozen prominent scientists from around the world have denounced a recent Associated Press article promoting sea level fears in the year 2100 and beyond based on unproven computer models predictions. The AP article also has been accused of mischaracterizing the views of a leading skeptic of man-made global warming fears. The scientists are dismissing the AP article, entitled “Rising Seas Likely to Flood U.S. History” (LINK) as a “scare tactic,” “sheer speculation,” and “hype of the worst order.” (H/T: Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters.org - LINK)
Dr. Richard S. Courtney, a climate and atmospheric science consultant and a UN IPCC expert reviewer ridiculed the AP article.
“Rarely have I read such a collection of unsubstantiated and scare-mongering twaddle. Not only do real studies show no increase to rate of sea level change, the [AP] article gives reasons for concern that are nonsense,” Courtney told Inhofe EPW Press Blog on September 23.
UN IPCC reviewer and climate researcher Dr Vincent Gray, of New Zealand slammed the article as well:
“This [AP article] is a typical scare story based on no evidence or facts, but only on the ‘opinions’ and ‘beliefs’ of ‘experts’, all of whom have a financial interest in the promotion of their computer models,” Gray wrote to the Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
Swedish Professor Wibjorn Karlen of the Department of Social and Economic Geography at Stockholm University:
“Another of these hysterical views of our climate,” Karlen wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog regarding the AP article. "Newspapers should think about the damage they are doing to many persons, particularly young kids, by spreading the exaggerated views of a human impact on climate,” Karlen explained.
The September 22, 2007 Associated Press article promoting future computer generated climate fears, appears just days before a high profile UN climate summit in New York City this week. The AP’s Seth Borenstein has a history of promoting unverifiable climate fears of the future (See: “AP Incorrectly claims scientists praise Gore’s movie” from June 2006 – LINK )
This AP report comes at a time when the peer-reviewed science is continuing to debunk the foundation of man-made climate change fears. (See "New Peer-Reviewed Scientific Studies Chill Global Warming Fears" (LINK)
Alabama State Climatologist Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, stated that the AP mischaracterized his views on sea level in the article promoting climate fears a hundred years from now.
“[My] discussion [with the AP reporter Seth Borenstein] was primarily about the storm surges which come from hurricanes - that's the real vulnerability. The sea level is rising around 1 inch per decade, but sea level is like any other climate parameter - its either rising or falling all the time. To me, 16 inches per century is not a significant problem to deal with. But since storm surges of 15 to 30 feet occur in 6 hours, any preventive strategy, like an extra 3 feet of elevation, would be helpful,” Christy wrote to the Inhofe EPW Press blog.
“Thinking that legislation can change sea level is hubris. I did a calculation on what 1000 new nuclear power plants operating by 2020 would do for the IPCC best guess in the year 2100. The answer is 1.4 cm – about half an inch (if you accept the IPCC projection A1B for the base case.) Also, there doesn't seem to be any acceleration of the slow trend,” Christy explained.
Borenstein's AP article stated: “Ultimately, rising seas will likely swamp the first American settlement in Jamestown, Va., as well as the Florida launch pad that sent the first American into orbit, many climate scientists are predicting. In about a century, some of the places that make America what it is may be slowly erased.”
Borenstein, who only quotes six scientists in the article, of which only one can be labeled a climate skeptic, uses the generic phrase “several leading scientists say." [EPW Blog Note: This blog report alone quotes nearly two dozen climate experts countering the AP’s “report” on sea level]
Borenstein’s article also claims alarming sea levels “will happen regardless of any future actions to curb greenhouse gases, several leading scientists say. And it will reshape the nation.”
“Storm surges worsened by sea level rise will flood the waterfront getaways of rich politicians—the Bushes' Kennebunkport and John Edwards' place on the Outer Banks. And gone will be many of the beaches in Texas and Florida favored by budget-conscious students on Spring Break,” Borenstein’s AP article continued.
But prominent scientists are speaking out and denouncing the article a mere hours after its publication.
Here is a sampling of scientists’ reaction to the AP story:
State of Florida Climatologist Dr. Jim O'Brien of Florida State University countered the AP article.
“The best measurements of sea level rise are from satellite instrument called altimeters. Currently they measure 14 inches in 100 years. Everyone agrees that there is no acceleration. Even the UN IPCC quotes this,” O’Brien wrote to EPW on September 23. O’Brien is also the director of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies.
“If you increase the rate of rise by four times, it will take 146 years to rise to five feet. Sea level rise is the ‘scare tactic’ for these guys,” O’Brien added.
Climate researcher Dr Vincent Gray, of New Zealand, an expert reviewer on every single draft of the IPCC reports going back to 1990:
The IPCC never makes ‘predictions’, only ‘projections’; what might happen, or be 'likely" if you believe the assumptions in the model. No computer model has ever been shown to be capable of successful prediction,” Gray wrote to the Inhofe EPW Press Blog on September 23.
“Actual data on sea levels are unreliable. Long term figures are based on tide-gauge measurements near port cities prone to subsidence and damage of equipment from severe weather. Many recent and more reliable measurements show little recent change. Satellite measurements have shown a recent rise which may be temporary,” Gray added.
Dr. Boris Winterhalter, a retired Senior Research Scientist and Coordinator for national international marine geological research at the Geological Survey of Finland:
“Even the worst case scenario is half of that quoted by Associated Press. This is a hype of the worst order. This whole scare builds on GCM's which we know mimic Earth processes very simplistically and are thus most unreliable,” Winterhalter told Inhofe EPW Press Blog on September 23.“I, as a marine geologist, am abhorred. I just looked at the USGS (US Geological Survey) site and am astonished that none of the references or fact sheets seem to refer to IPCC Fourth Assessment Report released this spring,” Winterhalter added.
Prominent scientist Professor Nils-Axel Morner, declared "the rapid rise in sea levels predicted by computer models simply cannot happen." Morner, a leading world authority on sea levels and coastal erosion who headed the Department of Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics at Stockholm University, called the AP story "propaganda." "The AP article must be regarded as an untenable horror scenario not based in observational facts," Morner told Inhofe EPW Press Blog, “Sea level will not rise by 1 m in 100 years. This is not even possible. Storm surges are in no way intensified at a sea level rise. Sea level was not at all rising 'a third of a meter in the last century': only some 10 cm from 1850 to 1940,” he wrote.
Morner previously noted on August 6, 2007: "When we were coming out of the last ice age, huge ice sheets were melting rapidly and the sea level rose at an average of one meter per century. If the Greenland ice sheet stated to melt at the same rate - which is unlikely - sea level would rise by less than 100 mm - 4 inches per century." Morner, who was president of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution from 1999 to 2003, has published a new booklet entitled "The Greatest Lie Ever Told," to refute claims of catastrophic sea level rise. (LINK)
Dr. Richard S. Courtney, a climate and atmospheric science consultant and a UN IPCC expert reviewer:
“Global sea level has been rising for the 10,000 years since the last ice age, and no significant change to the rate of sea level rise has been observed recently,” Courtney wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog on September 23.
"A continuing rise of ~2 mm/year for the next 100 years would raise sea level by ~0.2 m as it did during the twentieth century. And it is hard to see any justification for Andrew Weaver's claim (as quoted by AP) that ‘We're going to get a meter and there's nothing we can do about it, unless Weaver is talking about the next 500 years,” Courtney wrote.
“Simply, there is no reason to suppose that sea level rise will be more of a problem in this century than it was in the last century or each of the previous ten centuries,” he concluded.
Geophysicist Dr. David Deming of University of Oklahoma.
“Projections of sea-level rise are based on projections of future warming, fifty or a hundred years hence. And these projections are based on speculative computer models that have numerous uncertainties,” Deming wrote in a September 23, e-mail to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
“These models cannot even be tested; their validity is completely unknown. In short, predictions of future sea-level rise are nothing but sheer speculation,” Deming added.
“I have used the NASA temperature data for a study of several major areas. As far as I can see the IPCC “Global Temperature” is wrong. Temperature is fluctuating but it is still most places cooler than in the 1930s and 1940s," Karlen wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog regarding the AP article.
“The latest estimates of sea level rise are 1.31 mm/year. With this water level increase it will take about 800 years before the water level has increased by 1 m if not conditions change before that (very likely). Society will looks very different at that time,” he added.
Emmy Nominated Meteorologist Art Horn says AP loves ‘a scary story’
“Fearless forecasts from people who likely have never made real time, real world predictions. We who have worked in the real world of everyday weather forecasting for decades understand what it's like to be burned, even when you felt the forecast was a lock. I'm of the belief that most if not all of these predictions come from people who don't know much about the nature of prediction,” Horn wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog the day after the AP article was published.
“Working with computer models that don't even start with a climate remotely similar to the real world can't give you results that are in any way close to useful. But the AP and all news organizations love a scary story. I know, I worked as a TV meteorologist for 25 years. If it will generate a buzz they will run with it,” Horn explained.
“Making predictions about how much sea level will rise helps to insure the money train will continue. There will be people in seats of power that will continue to feed money to universities, research facilities and people like [NASA’s] James Hansen.
Greenpeace co-founder ecologist Dr. Patrick Moore noted the AP article was way off base from even the UN IPCC predictions.
“The IPCC predicts 18 - 59 cm, i.e. their high end is about half predicted in the AP story, and the AP story warns of a possible three meters,” Moore told Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
“The sea was 400 feet (130 meters) lower than today at the peak of the last Ice Age 18,000 years ago. This is an average of 72 cm/100 years. Most of this occurred between 18,000 and 6,000 years ago so there were periods when the sea rose more that 1 meter per 100 years,” Moore concluded.
Former Harvard physicist Dr. Lubos Motl:
“There's no good reason to expect more than 3 millimeters per year in average. It's been really 1.5 mm in the last 50 years, and 2 mm per year in 1900-1950. The rate has actually slowed down according to some papers,” Motl wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
“Any model that predicts significant acceleration [of sea level] with growing CO2 is falsified or nearly falsified by the observed data. It's crazy to think that this slow gradual rise is anything that would justify any actions besides the houses that have to be either moved or protected on the centennial scale,” he added.
“Any calculation that wants to indicate that the effects of sea level rise are a significant portion of the life or the economy is simply a miscalculation,” he concluded.
Chemist and agronomist Paavo Siitam:
“Despite some doom and gloom predictions, excluding waves washing onto shores by relatively rarely occurring tsunamis and storm-surges, low-lying areas on the face of our planet have NOT yet been submerged by rising oceans... so probably low-lying areas along shorelines of Canada and the USA will be SAFE into foreseeable and even distant futures,” Siitam wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
“By the way, I'd be happy to buy prized oceanfront properties at bargain prices, anywhere in the world, when unwarranted, panic selling begins. The dire predictions will not come true this century,” he added.
“I cannot help but conclude that this is one more example of scare-mongering by some very reputed scientists in the atmosphere/ocean science. I am disappointed to find that none of these scientists seem to want to refer to the excellent work of Prof Morner of Stockholm University who was the President of the INQUA commission for Maldive Islands SLR and who has discounted & dismissed the Maldive Islands 'disappearing' in ONE hundred years or even earlier according to some scare-mongerers!” Khandekar wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
“Besides Prof Morner's excellent studies, the scientists named in the news story seem to have ignored another well-documented study by Simon Holgate , an oceanographer in UK, whose paper in GRL( Geophysical Research Letters, 2007) has analyzed nine long sea-level records from 1903-2003 and the study finds that the SLR from 1953-2003 was about 1.5 mm/yr while the SLR from 1903-1953 was about 2 mm/yr, so there is NO ESCALATING sea level rise at present,” Khandekar explained.
“If the earth's climate enters into a mini ice age by 2035-2040 as several solar scientists are suggesting now, we may NOT even see half the sea level rise as quoted above,” he added.
Atmospheric physicist Dr. Fred Singer:
“The key to Borenstein’s story is the first very word: 'Ultimately.' Yes -- with sea level continuing to rise at the rate of about seven inches per century (as it has in past centuries), Florida will be flooded in a few 1000 years,” Singer, co-author of “Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years,” wrote.
Singer added sea levels will rise “unless a new ice age begins sooner -- lowering sea level -- as ocean water turns into continental ice sheets.”
Dr. Art Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine:
“Long term temperature data suggest that the current - entirely natural and not man made - temperature rise of about 0.5 degrees C per century could continue for another 200 years. Therefore, the best data available leads to an extrapolated value of about 1 foot of rise during the next two centuries,” Robinson explained to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
Accuweather chief meteorologist Joe Bastardi, who specializes in long-range forecasts, slammed the AP article for being offering up "a series of anything can happen and probably will statements."
“As someone who competes in the private sector and gets fired if my forecasts are not supply enough merit to be right enough for clients to benefit, I would welcome the kind of padding one has in making such outrageous long range forecasts that no one still alive will be able to verify,” Bastardi explained.
Internationally known forecasting pioneer Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania and his colleague Kesten Green Monash University in Australia:
“Dire consequences have been predicted to arise from warming of the Earth in coming decades of the 21st Century. Enormous sea level rises is one of the more dramatic forecasts. According to the AP’s Borenstein, such sea-level forecasts were experts' judgments on what will happen,” Armstrong and Green wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
“As shown in our analysis experts' forecasts have no validity in situations characterized by high complexity, high uncertainty, and poor feedback. To date we are unaware of any forecasts of sea levels that adhere to proper (scientific) forecasting methodology and our quick search on Google Scholar came up short,” Armstrong and Green explained.
“Media outlets should be clear when they are reporting on scientific work and when they are reporting on the opinions held by some scientists. Without scientific support for their forecasting methods, the concerns of scientists should not be used as a basis for public policy,” they concluded.
The Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley in the UK, an advisor to the Science and Pulblic Policy Institute, who has authored numerous climate science analyses (LINK):
“Given the absence of credible evidence for extreme sea-level rise over the coming century in the peer-reviewed literature, the IPCC has been compelled to reduce its sea-level estimates. The mean centennial sea-level rise over then 10,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age has been 4 feet per century; in the 20th century sea level rose less than 8 inches; and the IPCC's current central estimate is that in the coming century sea level will rise by just 43 cm (1 ft 5 in),” Monckton wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
Canadian Geologist Albert F. Jacobs, co-founder of the group Friends of Science:
“Basic to the IPCC case for sea level rise and for the alarmists’ hype is the hypothesis that increasing levels of carbon dioxide will cause increasing amounts of global warming. It should be stressed that this assumption of truth is no more than a hypothesis, which is increasingly being attacked and on which any meaningful discussion has been thwarted by the IPCC’s political masters,” Jacobs wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
“As far as CO2 is concerned, basic physics has always been clear about the limitations of higher concentrations of gas to absorb equivalent amounts of heat radiation. ‘Doubling of CO2’ does none of the things the IPCC’s computer says it does. And that’s all separate from the fact that water vapour is a much greater ‘greenhouse’ driver than carbon dioxide in any case," Jacobs added.
Canadian economist Dr. Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph in Ontario (who was key in debunking the infamous “Hockey Stick”) pointed out that real estate values would be plummeting on the coastlines if the AP article was accurate.
“If what they're saying is true, we will see the effect on land values long before we see the effect on sea levels. They are saying that it is certain that all sea-level waterfront property around the US will be worthless in 50-100 years. Since the market is very efficient at discounting future certainties into present values, US beachfront property ought to be losing at least 20 percent of its remaining value every decade from now on,” McKitrick wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
As EPW previously reported in a comprehensive report debunking fears of Greenland melting and a scary sea level rise, many prominent scientists dismiss computer model fears. (LINK)
Ivy League geologist Dr. Robert Giegengack of the University of Pennsylvania, explains that sea level is only rising up 1.8 millimeters per year (0.07 inches) -- less than the thickness of one nickel.
"Sea level is rising," Giegengack said, but it's been rising ever since warming set in 18,000 years ago, he explained according to a February 2007 article in Philadelphia Magazine. “So if for some reason this warming process that melts ice is cutting loose and accelerating, sea level doesn’t know it. And sea level, we think, is the best indicator of global warming," he said. (LINK) Giegengack also noted that the history of the last one billion years on the planet reveals "only about 5% of that time has been characterized by conditions on Earth that were so cold that the poles could support masses of permanent ice." (LINK)
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