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2010 North Carolina Sea-Level Rise Assessment Report. A Critique By Dave Burton Member, North Carolina Sea Level Rise Risk Management Study Advisory Committee ( NC SLRRMS) NC-20 Sea Level Symposium New Bern, NC Oct. 7, 2011 Slides will be here: tinyurl.com/nc20burton.

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2010 North Carolina Sea-Level Rise Assessment Report


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    1. 2010 North Carolina Sea-Level Rise Assessment Report A Critique By Dave Burton Member, North Carolina Sea Level Rise Risk Management Study Advisory Committee (NC SLRRMS) NC-20 Sea Level Symposium New Bern, NC Oct. 7, 2011 Slides will be here: tinyurl.com/nc20burton

    2. How Much Sea Level Rise Should We Expect by 2100?

    3. The Danger: Planning or Regulation? “For the past 30 years, our policies and strategies have been based on a SLR rate of 1-foot to 1 1/2-feet per century. However, based on the recommendation from the CRC’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards (March 2010), the NC Coastal Resources Commission has adopted a rise of 1 meter by 2100 for planning purposes. This accounts for an accelerated rise.” 2010 DCM Assessment and Strategy Document, p. 12

    4. The Danger: Planning or Regulation? “Sea level Rise: Rising sea level is a threat to coastal and riparian wetlands in North Carolina... [Tide] gauge data specific to North Carolina are available only for 20 years, but suggest a... rate of approximately 4.57 mm per year (1.5 ft per 100 years). … Rising sea levels will inundate large areas of the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula...” 2010 DCM Assessment and Strategy Document, p. 15

    5. The Danger: Planning or Regulation? “The Science Panel's report... goes on to recommend that the CRC adopt a rise of one meter by 2100 as a planning level. The report represents a secure foundation upon which the CRC can proceed to pursue program changes... The Science Panel's report is ready to be translated into policy... for changes to the regulatory program.” 2010 DCM Assessment and Strategy Document, pp. 106-107

    6. Claim: No, it doesn’t! (p.3): “This report synthesizes the best available science on SLR as it relates specifically to North Carolina.”

    7. Climate misinformation is rampant For example… http://www.nsf.gov/about/history/nsf0050/arctic/seaice.htm On the National Science Foundation web site…

    8. Climate misinformation is rampant http://www.nsf.gov/about/history/nsf0050/arctic/seaice.htm On the National Science Foundation web site… for 6.5 years! …and any competent high school science teacher could tell you that it scientifically impossible.

    9. Climate misinformation is rampant National Science Foundation reply: Subject: FW: error on NSF sea ice page (NSF0050) Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are checking with program staff in the Office of Polar Programs to determine what changes are needed, and will take the appropriate action. NSF Office of Legislative and Public Affairs Webmaster

    10. Claim: No, it doesn’t! But the Report’s problems are far from unique. (p.3): “This report synthesizes the best available science on SLR...”

    11. Problem # 1Science Panel Report Terminology (minor) What does “sea level” mean? (p.6): “Sea level is the average height of the sea with respect to a conceptual reference surface called the geoid.”

    12. Problem # 1Science Panel Report • Mid-ocean vs. Coastal Measurement • Satellite vs. Tide Gauges • “RSL” = Local Mean Sea Level (LMSL) (which is what matters!) • What the Report calls “MSL” (or just “sea level”) = Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) Terminology (minor)

    13. Problem # 2Science Panel Report Historical rate of SLR (minor) Claim (p.6): “Currently, MSL is rising at a rate of approximately 2 mm per year (0.08 inches/yr) if averaged over the last hundred years…”

    14. Problem # 2Science Panel Report • “2 mm/year” (Science Panel’s estimate)? • Both median & geographically-weighted average of best tide gauge records (GLOSS-LTT) yield 1.1 mm/year (global average) • But LMSL varies widely by location

    15. 159 GLOSS-LTT tide gauges • The best long-term sea level data we have • 1985: the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) created the Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS) • Sea level data from a global network of tide stations. • 159 tide stations with long (avg. ~85 year) measurement records • Monitor long term sea level trends around the world • One of the gauges is in Wilmington!

    16. 159 GLOSS-LTT tide gauges • Simple average: 0.6 mm/year • Median: 1.1 mm/year • Geographically-weighted average: 1.1 mm/year *

    17. * Geographical weighting – how far apart for independence?

    18. * Geographical weighting – how far apart for independence?

    19. * Geographical weighting – how far apart for independence? Weighting function 1 Result: ~1.1 mm/year is a pretty good estimate of GMSL rise

    20. Conclusion: IPCC exaggerates the actual, measured, average rate of coastal MSL rise by at least 50%

    21. Subsidence & uplift • Crust of the earth floats on a ball of molten magma, and it’s sloshing! • Post-glacial rebound (GIA) – mostly uplift • Water, oil & natural gas wells – subsidence • Northeastern NC has less bedrock than SE NC

    22. IPCC AR4 (2007)(the fine print) “Trends in tide gauge records are corrected for GIA using models, but not for other land motions.” [AR4, WG1, Sec. 5.5.2.1]

    23. John Daly "The impression has been conveyed to the world's public, media, and policymakers, that the sea level rise of 18 cm in the past century is an observed quantity and therefore not open to much dispute. What is not widely known is that this quantity is largely the product of modeling, not observation, and thus very much open to dispute, especially as sea level data in many parts of the world fails to live up to the IPCC claims."

    24. Problem # 3Science Panel Report Mythical acceleration 1.1 and around 3 mm per year (0.12 inches/yr) over the last fifteen years. Claim (p.6): “Currently, MSL is rising at a rate of approximately 2 mm per year (0.08 inches/yr) if averaged over the last hundred years, The rate of MSL rise has increased in response to global warming.”

    25. Problem # 3Science Panel Report Mythical acceleration • “3 mm/year” is measurement of a different quantity (satellite-measured mid-ocean sea level). “2 mm/year” (or 1.1 mm/year) comes from averaging coastal tide station LMSL trends

    26. Problem # 3Science Panel Report Mythical acceleration 2010 NC SLR AR predicts huge acceleration in SLR

    27. Problem # 3 Science Panel Report No actual increase in rate of SLR in last ~80 years!

    28. CO2 is up… +1 ppm/yr +2 ppm/yr but…

    29. Tide gauges show no acceleration (Graphs downloaded from NOAA.gov)

    30. Tide gauges show no acceleration 200 years of data

    31. Tide gauges show no acceleration At 25% of the GLOSS-LTT tide stations, LMSL is falling

    32. Tide gauges show no acceleration (Not since 1930, anyhow)

    33. Tide gauges show no acceleration

    34. Tide gauges show no acceleration Wilmington is the only GLOSS-LTT tide station in NC

    35. Tide gauges show no acceleration Full record(76 years): Last 20 years:

    36. But what about satellite data?we have about 18 years of it, now (But see “Great Sea Level Humbug.pdf ” link at nc-20.com)

    37. Satellites show no acceleration

    38. IPCC’s ThirdAssessment Report (2001) “observational finding of no acceleration in sea level rise during the 20th century.”

    39. Satellites show no acceleration in SLR,tide stations show no acceleration in SLR,SO, where does CRC get their projected acceleration? • Church & White (2006) • Confusion • Confirmation Bias • Rahmstorf (2007)

    40. Church and White (2006) Their claim: “A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise.” • But “no 20th century acceleration has previously been detected” by other researchers. • Most of their acceleration was in the 19th century! • For the 20th century alone, their error bar extended down to zero.

    41. Church and White (2006) “much of the acceleration occurr[ed] in the first half of the 20th century...”

    42. Church and White (2006) “much of?” Try all of it! All the 20th century acceleration occurred before 1930.

    43. Church and White (2009) In 2009, they posted updated data to their web site. I applied their regression analysis method to the new data… 7” orange line = minimum-variance unbiased estimator quadratic fit = deceleration

    44. Church and White (2009) I told Drs. Church & White about it. Dr. Church replied: “…thank you for drawing our attention to the smaller acceleration for this second data set. … you are correct that the acceleration is smaller in the second analyses … For the 1901 to 2007 period, again we agree with your result and get a non-significant and small deceleration.” (June 18, 2010 email attachment)

    45. Fact Globally averaged rate of coastal Sea Level Rise, as measured by tide gauges, has not increased (accelerated) in 80+ years. But the Science Panel Report claims, “The rate of MSL rise has increased in response to global warming.” (p. 6)

    46. Acceleration myth • Church & White (2006) • Confusion Sources for the error:

    47. Confusion Satellite vs. tide gauges (apples vs. oranges) If you chart sea levels from coastal tide gauge data until 15 years ago, but then switch to using satellite data, you’ll create an illusion of acceleration for the last 15 years.

    48. Confusion Believe it or not, both the Science Panel and the IPCC make this error! IPCC: “For the period 1993 to 2003, the rate of sea level rise is estimated from observations with satellite altimetry as 3.1 ± 0.7 mm yr–1, significantly higher than the average rate... It is unknown whether the higher rate in 1993 to 2003 is due to decadal variability or an increase in the longer-term trend.”[AR4, WG1, Ch 5, p. 387] (Google “IPCC Sea Level Nature Trick”)

    49. Confusion Believe it or not, both the Science Panel and the IPCC make this error! Science Panel: “Currently, MSL is rising at a rate of approximately 2 mm per year (0.08 inches/yr) if averaged over the last hundred years, and around 3 mm per year (0.12 inches/yr) over the last fifteen years...” [2010 NC SLR AR, p.6]