Can Sea Monsters Be Far Off?

Jonah Goldberg notes in a recent column that climate change alarmism seems to have turned itself up past 11, probably because (my theory) Trump has driven them out of what little of their minds was left:

One of the hallmarks of the “Ugly American” is the habit of thinking foreigners will understand what you’re saying if you just shout it louder and louder.

The Ugly Environmentalist does something similar. He exaggerates the challenge of global warming by using ever more hysterical rhetoric, thinking that if the last doomsday prediction didn’t work, this one will.

That’s one reason why a story reported this week in Nature will likely get a large echo very soon in the media, and be cited by the usual climatistas:

Satellite Snafu Masked True Sea Level Rise for Decades

The numbers didn’t add up. Even as Earth grew warmer and glaciers and ice sheets thawed, decades of satellite data seemed to show that the rate of sea-level rise was holding steady — or even declining.

Now, after puzzling over this discrepancy for years, scientists have identified its source: a problem with the calibration of a sensor on the first of several satellites launched to measure the height of the sea surface using radar. Adjusting the data to remove that error suggests that sea levels are indeed rising at faster rates each year.

“The rate of sea-level rise is increasing, and that increase is basically what we expected,” says Steven Nerem, a remote-sensing expert at the University of Colorado Boulder who is leading the reanalysis. . . Nerem’s team calculated that the rate of sea-level rise increased from around 1.8 millimetres per year in 1993 to roughly 3.9 millimetres per year today as a result of global warming.

In other words—we’ve fiddled with the satellite data. Isn’t it a curious thing that all of the recent various revisions of climate data all seem to come out with the same sign?

Here’s the underlying paper in Geophysical Research Letters, which is hard for  a non-scientist to get through, and here’s Nature‘s own contribution to the subject. Fortunately, we can consult an actual scientist about this. I sent this news item on to Dr. Roy Spencer at the University of Alabama, one of the scientists who helped design our climate satellite monitoring systems. He posts this note:

When I read that, I (like everyone else) assumed that corrections to the satellite sea level data since 1993 have now led to a revised trend toward faster (not slower) sea level rise. Right?


During the satellite era (since 1993), the trend in sea level rise was revised downward, by almost 10%, from 3.28 mm/year to about 3.0 mm/year. (For those concerned about Miami going underwater, these numbers equate to a little more than one inch every 10 years). This result was published back in April in Geophysical Research Letters, and the new Nature study looks at the wiggles in the revised data since 1993 and makes ominous pronouncements about sea level rise “acceleration”.

I’m calling “fake science news” on the Nature reporter who covered the story. The headline was technically correct…but misleading. (I can also make up technically correct headlines: “Scientists Agree: Sea Levels are Rising, We are All Going to Die.”)

The researchers in April made a major adjustment to the first 1/4 of the satellite record, bringing those early sea levels up. This results in adding curvature to the upward trend (an acceleration) by flattening out the early part of the curve. This new signature of “acceleration” was what made the news in the new Nature study, even though the long term trend went down.

We’re going to get predictions of sea monsters swimming in the streets of Miami and New York anyway. Oh, wait—that’s already happened.


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