Comments on NOAA USP Draft

As promised, here are my comments on the USP Global Climate Change draft.  I simply did not have the time to plow through the entire NOAA/NASA CCSP climate change report, so I focused on the 28-page section labeled Global Climate Change.  Even then, I was time-crunched, so most of my comments are cut-and-pastes from my blog, and many lack complete citations.  I would feel bad about that, except the USP report itself is very clearly a haphazard cut-and-paste from various sources and many of its comments and charts totally lack citations and sources (I challenge you to try to figure out even simple things, like where the 20th century temperature data on certain charts came from).

  • Scientist

    I didn’t have time to plough through the entire embarrassment, but suffice to say in the vast majority of points you try to make, you are wrong. When you say things like the warming trend has actually decelerated over the last decade. Since about 1998, there has been no global warming at all, you’re just making a fool of yourself. Why do deniers find it impossible to grasp the idea that you cannot say anything about trends in climate change based on ten years of data?

  • Pogo

    “… but suffice to say in the vast majority of points you try to make, you are wrong.”

    OK smartarse… List a few.

  • Scientist

    Sure thing, shithead. I’ll just point out one for now. It’s so spectacularly wrong it ought to make you investigate the science yourself before trusting what ignorant Luddite bloggers say.

    Sea levels have been rising steadily for hundreds of years, long before mankind’s fossil fuel combustion. To have meaning, sea level rise would have to accelerate over this natural historical trend line, and it has not. Well, who’d have guessed? That’s simply a lie. The rise in sea levels is indeed accelerating.

    Given that major howler, what would make you think any of the rest of the man’s comments will be grounded in science?

  • davidcobb

    Love that link scientist
    “Our reanalysis of the data shows a DRAMATIC increase of .09mm (.006mm per year)in the last fifteen years over the expected level”.
    Anyone check their math. Hardly a howler

  • kuhnkat

    Psyentist bloviates:
    “Why do deniers find it impossible to grasp the idea that you cannot say anything about trends in climate change based on ten years of data?”

    Lemme see sonny, back in, I think it was ’88, a feller called Hansen got up afore them Congress critters un screeched about how wer all a gonna DIE cause were burnin too much fuel an its gonna put CO2 in the air and burn us all up!!!

    Yup, that Hansen feller had what, less than 10 years o satellite info to work with and not much else provin’ his point!!!

    That what yer talkin’ bout sonny??

    Ya know sonny, we got a couple hunnert years a “experience” showin the weather CHANGES and some how yer tryin ta tell us its jus gonna get hotter??

    I think not!

  • morganovich

    measuring sea level is surprisingly difficult and complex. it’s not as if you can just throw in a tide gauge and assume it will tell you the true tale. the land itself rises and subsides. and sea level rises occur differently in different places. it’s very difficult to pin down a “sea level” though some new satelite projects are trying to do so.

    however, there are many who argue that current sea levels are not rising in an alarming way nor accelerating. they have also argued that levels were higher during the medieval warm period.

    the dutch, for whom this is a key issue, see nothing to worry about:

    the evidence for the couth pacific shows no acceleration either and TOPEX?POSEIDON is confirming that.

    this is by no means exhaustive, but certainly sheds considerable doubt on the case for catastrophic sea level rise.

  • Alex Llewelyn

    “scientist”, you claim the “vast majority” are erroneous, yet you haven’t even read it. Hmmm… Regarding your first point, we only have 30 years of warming that is predominantly caused by CO2, so to claim the rate is accelerating when the last third of that has no trend, is ridiculous. For us to be able to confirm there has been accelaration in the latter, half, years 15-20, so 5 years and therefore insignificant, would need to have more warming than the first 15,which isn’t the case anyway.

  • Keith

    From Scientist’s link for the refutation of sea level rise claim by Warren – Multi-century sea-level records and climate models indicate an acceleration of sea-level rise, but no 20th century acceleration has previously been detected. A reconstruction of global sea level using tide-gauge data from 1950 to 2000 indicates a larger rate of rise after 1993 and other periods of rapid sea-level rise but no significant acceleration over this period. Here, we extend the reconstruction of global mean sea level back to 1870 and find a sea-level rise from January 1870 to December 2004 of 195 mm, a 20th century rate of sea-level rise of 1.7 ± 0.3 mm yr−1 and a significant acceleration of sea-level rise of 0.013 ± 0.006 mm yr−2. This acceleration is an important confirmation of climate change simulations which show an acceleration not previously observed. If this acceleration remained constant then the 1990 to 2100 rise would range from 280 to 340 mm, consistent with projections in the IPCC TAR.

    This was the abstract of the paper. As I am not a member of the AGU, I do not have access to the entire paper to check the mathematical accuracy. But I can do some simple math on the data presented here. Church & White used records for sea level rise over a 135 year period, and these indicate a rise of 195 millimeters, or just under 2 meters. Studying tide gauge data for the 1950 to 2000, they report a sea level rise increase of between 1.4 to 2.0 millimeters per year. Well, if you divide the 195 millimeter increase by the 135 years, you get an average increase of 1.44 millimeters, which is within the range they cite for the fifty year period. Seems to me that this is not an inconsistency, but more within the realm of natural variability.

    They then tack on that there was a significant increase of sea level rise of between 0.007 and 0.019 millimeters per year. I don’t have their raw data, so I cannot verify the validity of this, but even so, based upon those numbers, it would take between four to eleven years for the sea level to increase the width of the thinnest sheet of paper on the market, as documented here. For some reason, I don’t find this terrifying. But they use this increase, combined with the existing sea rise curve, to suppose an increase in sea level of between 2.8 to 3.4 meters.

    Of course, this whole argument assumes that the sea level rise will not stop. They use 135 years worth of data without indicating in the abstract whether there was ever any years where the sea level lowered instead rose. They do hypothesize that it is climate change causing the sea level rise, but if so, then the data from prior to 1950 should show significantly less sea level rise, which it mathematically does not. They even state no rise was detected in the 20th century, and their “larger rate” only appears after 1993 in their fifty year analysis. Also, since this data is based upon tide gauges, shouldn’t they also provide a tidal chart comparison for the same period to indicate if there were any projected higher than normal tides based upon astronometrical events? Surely planetary alignments, variations in lunar and terrestrial orbits, and other minutiae concerning planets and other bodies in space that can exert a gravitational effect upon the oceans should be considered. It is well known that the lunar orbit has a direct effect upon tide levels.

  • Scientist

    davidcobb – where did you get that quote from? It’s certainly not in the article I linked to.

    cuntcat – is that supposed to be a useful contribution?

    morganovich – blogs and parliaments are not good places at which to educate yourself about science, and certainly not good things to quote in support of scientific claims.

    “Alex Llewellyn” – you seem to be confusing sea level rises and temperature rises. In any case the last third of that has no trend is a meaningless statement.

    Keith – it is unwise to presume you understand the contents of a paper based on its abstract alone. It would also be good if you understood the difference between acceleration and rate. And you may wish to re-read the paper to discover what sea level rise they actually predict. It’s probably useful for you to know that 10mm=1cm. As for planetary alignments, I suggest you do a little calculation to compare the gravitational force of any of the planets of the solar system with the gravitational force of the Moon, to see if planetary alignments could have any detectable effect on tides. Finally, try to understand why scientific papers are published. They do not state no rise was detected in the 20th century, they state that no 20th century acceleration has previously been detected. The reason they published the paper is because they were the first people to detect the acceleration. The title of the paper – A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise – should also have given you a clue that you’d misunderstood what they were saying.

  • Keith

    Why, thank you, Scientist, for the math lesson (eyes rolling). Yes, 10 millimeters equals 1 centimeter, 0.1 decimeters, and 0.01 meters. And for those of us who still use the English measuring system, 1.44 millimeters roughly equals 0.057 inches. Or to give a visual reference that most people can understand, slightly thicker than a dime. A one inch increase in sea level based upon this study would take between 13 to 20 YEARS. Provided, of course that the trend of sea level increase continues, which is not a given.

    Actually, Church & White might have been able to same themselves some work. Carton et al. 2000 seems to have done some of the same work collecting tide gauge information for the same period. They even include graphs of the sea level changes at several of their sites. Interestingly, the graphs show both increases and decreases in sea level. They draw a comparison to the ENSO and various ocean heat cycles, as well as citing a seasonal variation in sea level, to explain portions of the sea level rise during the 90’s. Based upon those graphs I mentioned, it looks like there is some cyclical pattern to the sea level changes. The rise in the 90’s is actually the cycle rising from a low in the cycle.

    As for the planetary alignment question, I will admit that the planets have a very negligible effect on tides. I even researched for this post. This nice page from NASA even shows that the total effect of all the planets is roughly one ten thousandth of the effect of the Sun and the Moon. But it also points out that tides can range to as much as forty feet (12 meters). That’s 12,000 millimeters. One ten thousandth of that is 1.20 millimeters. Wow! Isn’t it amazing how close that is to the 1.44 millimeter average annual sea level rise over those 135 years that Church & White found?

  • Keith

    I finished that last post a little too soon. I scrolled further down the page and found the chart for the individual planetary effects. If everything is perfectly aligned, the net effect of the planets could exceed the one ten thousandth level. Adding everything up, the total effect could leap to 1.56 millimeters of tidal effect. Isn’t studying science and basic math a useful thing?

  • Scientist

    So, Keith, now that you’ve got a firm grasp of SI prefixes, tell us what 280mm and 340mm are in metres. Your previous guess was 2.8 and 3.4 metres.

    You shout 13 to 20 YEARS as if you are telling us something new. What’s your point? And why do you think that sea levels might stop rising? How do you heat up water without making it expand? Where else is the 100 billion tonnes of Greenlandic ice going each year?

    The difference between tides and mean sea level apparently eludes you. From the paper you quoted, the error on satellite sea level measurements is of the order of ±2cm. Tidal range is irrelevant.

    Planets are also irrelevant. I’m sure if you really think about it you can work out why.

  • morganovich


    don’t let scientroll snow you or bog you down in silly arguments (both of which are his trademarks).

    greenland may well be gaining ice mass. and it is certainly not unusually warm there at the moment compared to the last century or to warmer periods like the MWP.

    this is an interesting read on the topic:

    Zwally, H. Jay; Giovinetto, Mario B.; Li, Jun; Cornejo, Helen G.; Beckley, Matthew A.; Brenner, Anita C.; Saba, Jack L.; Yi, Donghui (2005), Journal of Glaciology, Volume 51, Number 175, December, pp. 509-527(19)

    and recent studies using the ARGOS system show no recent gains in ocean heat (though granted over a very short period as it is a very new system)

    sceintroll knows this and has lost arguments about it on this site already.

    he’s just being deliberately difficult and trying to waste your time.

  • Keith

    Don’t worry, morganovich. Scientist doesn’t get my goat ever. I admit freely to my math mistake on converting 195 millimeters to just under two meters instead the actual just under 8 inches, or the possible increase of just 14 inches. Guess I has Al Gore’s claim of nearly 10 meters percolating around in my brain.

    My point about the planetary effect is that when you are dealing with projecting a change in rate that is measured in microns, you need to make sure that you eliminate any other possible source of change. If you dismiss an effect because it is only one ten thousandth of the total effect, you don’t need to be citing changes that occur on or near that ten thousandth level. The study that Scientist’s cites does approach those levels, so can he prove that they remembered to take that effect into account for the times when their data was collected? The tidal effect of Venus spikes to its maximum value approximately every 15 months. If you are study annual tidal levels, as Church & White say they did, then this effect will be apparent based upon the scale they are using in approximately 80% of their data points.

  • DB, Ph.D.

    It may be a mistake to focus only on sea levels in the CCSP document, but that has been the subject of this thread so here are a couple of more thoughts. I read the abstract of the 2005 Church & White paper to see if there was anything there that undermined my understanding of sea level rises, and I found none. Perhaps there might be some enlightenment in the paper itself, so we should keep an open mind. However, the highlight of the paper is that the authors, through a reconstruction, found an acceleration where none had been detected before. That does not mean that their reconstruction is the only feasible way to understand sea levels. We do not know if their method is more legitimate than others that did not detect the acceleration. Also, it is not clear that the acceleration – if true — implies different policy approach. To prepare for sea levels that continue the past trend versus what happens with acceleration (e.g. 8 inches vs. 11 inches), the mitigation response is basically the same. In addition, ironically, after Church & White published their paper, sea levels subsequently stopped rising at all – much less accelerated. I offer no forecast of whether this is a pause or a long term change in direction. The pause (and slight decrease) has been long enough to notice. Finally, the authors unfortunately solidified impressions that CSIRO is heavily influenced by political agenda. They spent precious space in their abstract endorsing IPCC TAR rather than clarifying the specifics of their study.

  • kuhnkat


    no, CO2 alarmism is not a useful contribution. Starting it with about 10 years of data was pointless except for nut jobs like Hansen, Gore, and YOU.

    Making claims that the earth has totally changed the way the climate works because of .035 % of the atmosphere changing a tiny bit is even more ridiculous.

    Claiming that the questionable trend in the last 30 years was outside of the norms for our climate system (whatever they really are) is even more ignorant.

    To the current point. The sea level rise for 1993 to current of about 3mm per year is even more questionable removing any usefulness of debating this paper.

    Finally, the apparent DECREASE in sea level in the last 3 years shows that the oceans are NOT retaining excess heat and the boondoggle should be forgotten. We should return to trying to researching and understanding our environment without the perversions of BIASED research and reporting getting in the way.

    PS: try hunting down the tide gauge records for ALL the Hong Kong units for the period of 1970 to current and see which ones best match the 3mm scenario. THEN check and see which ones are KNOWN to be on subsiding land!!!!

  • hmmm

    since over that 10 years of data we are below the projected possible temperature predictions given years ago, even under the projected scenario where C02 production was mitigated (which it has not been), that does indicate a problem with the projection. If it takes longer to prove the models correctly, then you are agreeing their projections indeed haven’t been proven correct.

    And please don’t use how they “match” history as evidence their future predictions are accurate. Any complex system with multiple variables and transient fudge factors can be made to match any trend line. I could make multiple climate models that match history but which don’t project the same future (they can’t all be right).

  • Scientist

    hmmm – you are being fooled, I think, by a graph which compares monthly observations to annual predictions. This is not a valid approach. I recommend that you do some research yourself – get hold of the model predictions and annual average observations. Normalise both to the same reference period. Compare. Be sure to consider the error values on each. Report back with what you find.

  • Keith

    From Anthony Watts’ “Watt’s Up With That?” Blog – NOAA Pulls CCSP Report

    I guess the commentary made a difference.

  • Keith

    From Anthony Watts’ “Watt’s Up With That?” Blog – NOAA Pulls CCSP Report

    I guess the commentary made a difference.

  • m_b

    Well we have been warming slightly over the past century (particularly towards the end), so an acceleration in sea levels would not be unexpected, but the figures don’t look particularly strange or abnormal.

    However recent work has shown that the failure of the Antartic to warm as Climate Models predicted, combined with increased amounts of water vapour in the atmosphere due to slightly higher global temperatures, is leading to increased snowfall on the Antartic landmass. The hypothesis is that this may lock up more water, and it is suggested that a reduction in sea levels would not be unexpected.