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Home Left Column Analysis Debunks Absurd Sea Level Rise Claims About South Florida

Analysis Debunks Absurd Sea Level Rise Claims About South Florida

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Guest post by David Middleton

Sea level rise isn’t something that only future generations will have to deal with. It’s already causing significant challenges. If you doubt that, check out what’s happening in Miami right now.

“Sea levels in South Florida could rise up to two feet over the next four decades”… No they can’t and this is not happening right now.

For sea level to rise “two feet over the next four decades,” it would have to accelerate to the pace of the Holocene Transgression:

sl4_zps22bee1aa

Projected sea level rise through 2100 AD. Two feet of sea level rise over the next four decades would require a pace even faster than that required for 1 meter (~3 feet) of sea level rise by the end of this century. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/21/oh-say-can-you-see-modern-sea-level-rise-from-a-geological-perspective/

It would take an average rate of sea level rise nearly twice that of the Holocene Transgression for sea level to rise more than 1.5 meters (~5 feet) over the remainder of this century.

Sea level isn’t behaving any differently than it has throughout the Holocene.

sl6_zps417bba83Sea level was 1-2 meters higher than it currently is during the Holocene Highstand. All of the sea level rise since 1700 is insignificant relative to the natural variability of Holocene sea levels.

Sea level rise in the Miami area is not accelerating and it is rising at a rate of about 1 foot per century.

8723170

The mean sea level trend is 2.39 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.43 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1931 to 1981 which is equivalent to a change of 0.78 feet in 100 years. https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8723170

8724580

The mean sea level trend is 2.40 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.15 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1913 to 2016 which is equivalent to a change of 0.79 feet in 100 years. https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8724580

8723970

The mean sea level trend is 3.63 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.48 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1971 to 2016 which is equivalent to a change of 1.19 feet in 100 years. https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8723970

The satellite data indicate virtually no statistically significant sea level rise in the Miami area:

I intentionally retained the “seasonal terms and mean” and did not smooth the data because the seasonal variability is real and at least 10 times the magnitude of any secular trends in sea level.

To the extent that there is a trend (R² = 0.0945), the rate of sea level rise in the Miami area is about 3 mm/yr.  This would lead to about 5.5 inches of sea level rise over the next four decades.

Many people have pointed me to this story, I wanted to read about it a bit before posting it.  Almost two years ago, when this blog was in its very first month, I posted this story on the puzzling leveling off of global methane concentrations. FYI Methane has a “global warming potential” (GWP) 23-25 times that of CO2.CDIAC has an interesting set of graphs on methane, the first of which shows that indeed global concentrations of CH4 through 2004 have leveled off:

This one on latitude -vs- concentration would surely seem to point to anthropogenic sources of CH4:

""

So here is yet another addition to the puzzle, which seems to point in the opposite direction:

MIT scientists baffled by global warming theory, contradicts scientific data

From: TG Daily By Rick C. Hodgin

Boston (MA) – Scientists at MIT have recorded a nearly simultaneous world-wide increase in methane levels. This is the first increase in ten years, and what baffles science is that this data contradicts theories stating man is the primary source of increase for this greenhouse gas. It takes about one full year for gases generated in the highly industrial northern hemisphere to cycle through and reach the southern hemisphere. However, since all worldwide levels rose simultaneously throughout the same year, it is now believed this may be part of a natural cycle in mother nature – and not the direct result of man’s contributions.

Methane – powerful greenhouse gas

The two lead authors of a paper published in this week’s Geophysical Review Letters, Matthew Rigby and Ronald Prinn, the TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science, state that as a result of the increase, several million tons of new methane is present in the atmosphere.

Methane accounts for roughly one-fifth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, though its effect is 25x greater than that of carbon dioxide. Its impact on global warming comes from the reflection of the sun’s light back to the Earth (like a greenhouse). Methane is typically broken down in the atmosphere by the free radical hydroxyl (OH), a naturally occuring process. This atmospheric cleanser has been shown to adjust itself up and down periodically, and is believed to account for the lack of increases in methane levels in Earth’s atmosphere over the past ten years despite notable simultaneous increases by man.

More study

Prinn has said, “The next step will be to study [these changes] using a very high-resolution atmospheric circulation model and additional measurements from other networks. The key thing is to better determine the relative roles of increased methane emission versus [an increase] in the rate of removal. Apparently we have a mix of the two, but we want to know how much of each [is responsible for the overall increase].”

The primary concern now is that 2007 is long over. While the collected data from that time period reflects a simultaneous world-wide increase in emissions, observing atmospheric trends now is like observing the healthy horse running through the paddock a year after it overcame some mystery illness. Where does one even begin? And how relevant are any of the data findings at this late date? Looking back over 2007 data as it was captured may prove as ineffective if the data does not support the high resolution details such a study requires.

One thing does seem very clear, however; science is only beginning to get a handle on the big picture of global warming. Findings like these tell us it’s too early to know for sure if man’s impact is affecting things at the political cry of “alarming rates.” We may simply be going through another natural cycle of warmer and colder times – one that’s been observed through a scientific analysis of the Earth to be naturally occuring for hundreds of thousands of years.

Project funding

Rigby and Prinn carried out this study with help from researchers at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Bristol and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Methane gas measurements came from the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE), which is supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Australian CSIRO network.

” data-medium-file=”” data-large-file=”” class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-3926″ src=”https://debunkhouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/miamissh.png” alt=”MiamiSSH” style=”height: auto; max-width: 98%; clear: both; display: block; margin: 8.39062px auto 0px; border: 1px solid rgb(204, 204, 204); padding: 5px;”>

Miami FL Area Sea Surface Height (cm). Data from CU Sea Level Research Group University of Colorado. http://sealevel.colorado.edu/cgi-bin/table.cgi?q=content%2Finteractive-sea-level-time-series-wizard&dlat=26&dlon=280&fit=n&smooth=n&days=60

A review of USGS topographic maps reveals very little in the way of inundation by rising seas:

miami1

Miami Beach, Florida topographic maps from 1950 and 1994.(USGS).

miami2

Miami Beach topographic maps for 1950 and 1994. Note that the 5′ elevation contour has not shifted (USGS).

Atlantic Hurricane Season 2008 Withers on the Vine 

Graphic above added by Anthony
by Ryan Maue Florida State University, COAPS, on October 31st, 2008, reposted from Climate Audit

The North Atlantic hurricane season has nearly come to an end. As November progresses, the chance of another storm developing becomes smaller. Climatology (last 60 years) tells us that roughly 4 in 10 years see a November storm formation including 4 in 2005 (Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon), Hurricane Michelle (2001), Hurricane Lenny (1999), and Hurricane Kate (1985). Jeff Masters from the Weather Underground has an image of previous early-November storm tracks especially clustered in the Western Caribbean.

So, what has the 2008 season wrought in the North Atlantic and how well did the seasonal prognosticators fare?

Even with the expected post-season tinkering of the real-time storm tracks by the folks at the National Hurricane Center, we can provide fairly accurate preliminary numbers. The community at Wikipedia constantly updates many interesting facts about the ongoing 2008 hurricane season.

Total Named storms (34 knots + one-minute maximum sustained winds): 15
Total Hurricanes (64 knots +): 7
Total Major Hurricanes (96 knots +): 4
Accumulated Cyclone Energy: 132

The respective forecasts made by CSU (Klotzbach and Gray), NOAA, as well as the UK Met Office came in quite close to the actual experienced storm activity. Before handing out trophies, please keep in mind that forecast “skill” is a function of many forecasts over longer time periods. Each of the forecasting outfits prefers to use different techniques and variables to calculate their storm numbers, so we will have to wait until each completes their post-season analysis to determine if they were “right for the right reason” or got lucky.

Now, to answer the question: how active was the 2008 hurricane season, we need to define climatology. This is where the tricksters can play pranks on the public. Where is the beginning point of the analysis? How well do we trust the frequency and the estimated intensities of each storm? What metric do we use – number of tropical storms, number of hurricanes, ACE (accumulated cyclone energy), Power Dissipation, or perhaps some complicated statistical measure? All of these questions are entangled in the debate surrounding whether anthropogenic climate change is indeed a modulating influence upon current and future Atlantic hurricane activity.

A well-accepted metric which convolves storm frequency, intensity, and duration is called accumulate cyclone energy (ACE) and is calculated very simply: take the maximum sustained winds reported by the NHC every 6-hours for all storms (> 34 knots), square this value, and sum over the entire lifetime, then divide by 10,000. In 2007, even though there were also 15 storms, the ACE was only 72 compared to 132 for 2008 with the same number of named storms. This is partially because the storms in 2008 were much longer lived especially Bertha.

Here are three different views of the Atlantic hurricane climatology depending upon what period you look at. The data is from the NHC Best Tracks without any corrections to the intensity data.

""

Links to two other time periods:

1978-2008


1944-2008

Thus, since 1995, Atlantic hurricane activity measured by ACE is hugely variable with feast (i.e. 2005) and famine (1997). 2008 ACE is nearly equivalent to 2006 and 2007 combined, but about half as what was experienced in the record 2005 season. The choice of 30-years is a particular favorite for many researchers in the tropical cyclone community (1978-2007). The second image clearly shows the nearly stepwise increase in ACE between 1994 and 1995. In this reference frame, 2008 ranks as one of the more active years of the past 30. Now, back up to 1944, when admittedly the intensity (and detection) data is somewhat less reliable. However, since the ACE metric is the convolution of an entire year’s worth of storm lifecycle information, and is most sensitive to higher wind speeds, the track data points prior to satellite observation (~1970s) are probably sufficient for this exercise.

Final verdict: When encapsulated in the recent active period in North Atlantic activity (1995-2007), 2008 experienced normal or expected activity as measured by ACE. In terms of a long-term climatology, either the last 30 or 65 years, 2008 is clearly an above average year.

Note: for the Climate Audit seasonal forecasters, especially those that showed exemplary skill (however you wish to measure it), please fill us in on your methodology and perhaps provide guidance for 2009. Or, for those feeling shame about being “blown off track”, time to think of good excuses.

Also, a new Science perspective has been published by Vecchi et al. (2008) entitled Whither Hurricane Activity? More on that later…

” data-medium-file=”” data-large-file=”” class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-3953″ src=”https://debunkhouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/miami3.png” alt=”miami3″ style=”height: auto; max-width: 98%; clear: both; display: block; margin: 8.39062px auto 0px; border: 1px solid rgb(204, 204, 204); padding: 5px;”>

Miami Beach, Florida topographic maps for 1994 and 2012. The 2012 map has no 5′ contour because it has a 10′ contour interval. However, it is abundantly obvious that Florida is not being inundated.

Atlantic Hurricane Season 2008 Withers on the Vine 

Graphic above added by Anthony
by Ryan Maue Florida State University, COAPS, on October 31st, 2008 reposted from Climate Audit

The North Atlantic hurricane season has nearly come to an end. As November progresses, the chance of another storm developing becomes smaller. Climatology (last 60 years) tells us that roughly 4 in 10 years see a November storm formation including 4 in 2005 (Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon), Hurricane Michelle (2001), Hurricane Lenny (1999), and Hurricane Kate (1985). Jeff Masters from the Weather Underground has an image of previous early-November storm tracks especially clustered in the Western Caribbean.

So, what has the 2008 season wrought in the North Atlantic and how well did the seasonal prognosticators fare?

Even with the expected post-season tinkering of the real-time storm tracks by the folks at the National Hurricane Center, we can provide fairly accurate preliminary numbers. The community at Wikipedia constantly updates many interesting facts about the ongoing 2008 hurricane season.

Total Named storms (34 knots + one-minute maximum sustained winds): 15
Total Hurricanes (64 knots +): 7
Total Major Hurricanes (96 knots +): 4
Accumulated Cyclone Energy: 132

The respective forecasts made by CSU (Klotzbach and Gray), NOAA, as well as the UK Met Office came in quite close to the actual experienced storm activity. Before handing out trophies, please keep in mind that forecast “skill” is a function of many forecasts over longer time periods. Each of the forecasting outfits prefers to use different techniques and variables to calculate their storm numbers, so we will have to wait until each completes their post-season analysis to determine if they were “right for the right reason” or got lucky.

Now, to answer the question: how active was the 2008 hurricane season, we need to define climatology. This is where the tricksters can play pranks on the public. Where is the beginning point of the analysis? How well do we trust the frequency and the estimated intensities of each storm? What metric do we use – number of tropical storms, number of hurricanes, ACE (accumulated cyclone energy), Power Dissipation, or perhaps some complicated statistical measure? All of these questions are entangled in the debate surrounding whether anthropogenic climate change is indeed a modulating influence upon current and future Atlantic hurricane activity.

A well-accepted metric which convolves storm frequency, intensity, and duration is called accumulate cyclone energy (ACE) and is calculated very simply: take the maximum sustained winds reported by the NHC every 6-hours for all storms (> 34 knots), square this value, and sum over the entire lifetime, then divide by 10,000. In 2007, even though there were also 15 storms, the ACE was only 72 compared to 132 for 2008 with the same number of named storms. This is partially because the storms in 2008 were much longer lived especially Bertha.

Here are three different views of the Atlantic hurricane climatology depending upon what period you look at. The data is from the NHC Best Tracks without any corrections to the intensity data.

""

Links to two other time periods:

1978-2008


1944-2008

Thus, since 1995, Atlantic hurricane activity measured by ACE is hugely variable with feast (i.e. 2005) and famine (1997). 2008 ACE is nearly equivalent to 2006 and 2007 combined, but about half as what was experienced in the record 2005 season. The choice of 30-years is a particular favorite for many researchers in the tropical cyclone community (1978-2007). The second image clearly shows the nearly stepwise increase in ACE between 1994 and 1995. In this reference frame, 2008 ranks as one of the more active years of the past 30. Now, back up to 1944, when admittedly the intensity (and detection) data is somewhat less reliable. However, since the ACE metric is the convolution of an entire year’s worth of storm lifecycle information, and is most sensitive to higher wind speeds, the track data points prior to satellite observation (~1970s) are probably sufficient for this exercise.

Final verdict: When encapsulated in the recent active period in North Atlantic activity (1995-2007), 2008 experienced normal or expected activity as measured by ACE. In terms of a long-term climatology, either the last 30 or 65 years, 2008 is clearly an above average year.

Note: for the Climate Audit seasonal forecasters, especially those that showed exemplary skill (however you wish to measure it), please fill us in on your methodology and perhaps provide guidance for 2009. Or, for those feeling shame about being “blown off track”, time to think of good excuses.

Also, a new Science perspective has been published by Vecchi et al. (2008) entitled Whither Hurricane Activity? More on that later…

” data-medium-file=”” data-large-file=”” class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-3956″ src=”https://debunkhouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/miami-xsect.png” alt=”Miami Xsect” style=”height: auto; max-width: 98%; clear: both; display: block; margin: 8.39062px auto 0px; border: 1px solid rgb(204, 204, 204); padding: 5px;”>

Topographic profile A-A’. The NOAA sea level trend has been plotted at.the same vertical scale.

Conclusion

Kudos to Mr. Yulsman for raising the alarm about alarmist CO2 headlines and ironically including alarmist prattle about sea level rise in his article.  I’ve been looking for a reason to break out the Miami Beach topo maps and profile and use them in a WUWT post.

References

Bard, E., B. Hamelin, M. Arnold, L. Montaggioni, G. Cabioch, G. Faure & F. Rougerie. Deglacial sea-level record from Tahiti corals and the timing of global meltwater discharge.Nature 382, 241 – 244 (18 July 1996); doi:10.1038/382241a0

Blum, M.D., A.E. Carter,T. Zayac, and R. Goble. Middle Holocene Sea-Level and Evolution of The Gulf of Mexico Coast (USA). Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue 36, 2002.

Jameson, J., C. Strohmenger. Late Pleistocene to Holocene Sea-Level History of Qatar: Implications for Eustasy and Tectonics. AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90142 © 2012 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, April 22-25, 2012, Long Beach, California.

Jevrejeva, S., J. C. Moore, A. Grinsted, and P. L. Woodworth (2008).  Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago? Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L08715, doi:10.1029/2008GL033611.:

Nerem, R.S., D.P. Chambers, C. Choe & G.T. Mitchum. Estimating Mean Sea Level Change from the TOPEX and Jason Altimeter Missions. Marine Geodesy. Volume 33, Issue S1, 2010, pages 435- 446 Available online: 09 Aug 2010 DOI: 10.1080/01490419.2010.491031.

Featured Image Source: NASA

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