Accelerated sea level rise debunked
A new analysis finds evidence of a weak deceleration in mean sea level rise in the Australasian region from 1940 to 2000 in four very long-term tide gauge records.
It brings long-term confirmation to what the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project (SPSLCMP) has been reporting for about 10 to 15 years — slow, non-alarming sea level rise.
Stupendously good news
Although the research focuses on our trans-Tasman neighbours, it also includes an analysis of Auckland, giving another insight into our likely coastal future. However, failing to present a dramatic story, it probably will not get the same media attention as the Emerging Issues paper from the Royal Society of New Zealand in September, 2010, which looked at new research on sea level rise and tried to alarm us all.
Yet, stupendously, the new paper offers the best possible news for those at risk from rising sea levels, as it thoroughly refutes the nonsensical scare stories about “accelerating” sea level rise. Our newspapers and television stations must ignore good news like this precisely because it’s not alarming. Otherwise, why have they not told us the truth?
The Royal Society paper on sea level skilfully tells us to ‘be afraid, be very afraid,’ but avoids responsibility for saying so. For instance, it says that warmer climates have ‘always been linked’ with higher seas; there is ‘increasingly rapid melting’ of polar and glacial ice; and it persuades us that all the evidence points to rising, not falling, seas, by asserting that our uncertainty is ‘one-sided.’ A heading yells at us: “Projections of sea level rise have changed dramatically over the last four years.”
Who wouldn’t be left with an impression of dangerous rise, starting now?
But it practically denies all it says — and leaves us completely undecided — by making the quite astonishing statement:
For the decades and centuries that are important for planning purposes, we cannot yet state the likelihood of a given rate of sea level rise.
What?! The paper gives us a powerful push in a neutral direction! So why on earth did they bother writing it?
Has the Royal Society said anything about the Australian paper cited below? Or has the Green Party? Or NIWA? NIWA must have heard about the sea level monitoring project, since they have such a cosy relationship with the BOM, who run it, so they must have noticed that this latest paper confirms the lack of accelerated rise reported by the monitoring. Why don’t they mention it? After all, it’s very good news.
The paper we’re referring to is P. J. Watson (2011) Is There Evidence Yet of Acceleration in Mean Sea Level Rise around Mainland Australia? Journal of Coastal Research: Volume 27, Issue 2: pp. 368 377. doi: 10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00141.1
P. J. Watson is the Principal Coastal Specialist, NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, PO Box 2185, Dangar, NSW, Australia 2309.
As an island nation with some 85% of the population residing within 50 km of the coast, Australia faces significant threats into the future from sea level rise. Further, with over 710,000 addresses within 3 km of the coast and below 6-m elevation, the implication of a projected global rise in mean sea level of up to 100 cm over the 21st century will have profound economic, social, environmental, and planning consequences. In this context, it is becoming increasingly important to monitor trends emerging from local (regional) records to augment global average measurements and future projections. The Australasian region has four very long, continuous tide gauge records, at Fremantle (1897), Auckland (1903), Fort Denison (1914), and Newcastle (1925), which are invaluable for considering whether there is evidence that the rise in mean sea level is accelerating over the longer term at these locations in line with various global average sea level time-series reconstructions. These long records have been converted to relative 20-year moving average water level time series and fitted to second-order polynomial functions to consider trends of acceleration in mean sea level over time. The analysis reveals a consistent trend of weak deceleration at each of these gauge sites throughout Australasia over the period from 1940 to 2000. Short period trends of acceleration in mean sea level after 1990 are evident at each site, although these are not abnormal or higher than other short-term rates measured throughout the historical record.
Truth about Pacific sea level hysteria
Here, for some perspective, is the latest graph of sea level trends in the South Pacific — to the end of February, 2011.