Sea level rise has [not] stopped: how the climate sceptics choose ‘facts’ to support their unjustified conclusions

I was staggered (although shouldn’t have really been surprised) to stumble upon this blog post stating that sea level rise has stopped globally in the last year. I mean I work in the UK’s National Oceanography Centre – surely I’d have heard about something as important as that, right?

Editor note: Since commenting on the blog, the author has changed his title to reflect a sea level pause, rather than sea level stopping.

It appears that sea level rise started declining in early 2016 and has continued as the snowpack piles up in Greenland, Antarctic and Sierra. Here is a more detailed look at the decline. It looks like it is time for the STATE OF CALIFORNIA SEA-LEVEL RISE GUIDANCE DOCUMENT to be updated once again. Originally published […]

via Sea Level Rise Has Stopped — Sierra Foothill Commentary

The blog post got off to a promising start, as it was quoting data from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center that had been collected by satellites to track changes in sea level. The overall graph, shown above, displays a 14 year period of data collection whereby sea levels have been seen to rise by 86.4 mm, at a rate of +3.4 mm per year (on average). Where then was the author drawing his conclusion about a cessation in sea level rise from?

Let me show you his interpretation of the data:

Sea Level Rise: Jan 2016-Mar 2017
Sea Level Rise: Jan 2016-Mar 2017. Data source: Satellite sea level observations (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center).
This is the only data that matters. Out of a data set comprising of around 170 data points, he chose to display just the last 14. He chose one tiny, unrepresentative feature in the dataset to draw out absurd conclusions. We saw a similar ‘pause/reversal’ between Jun 2010 and April 2011, but low-and-behold, the rising trend of sea level resumed and since that 2010 ‘reversal’ we have seen a further 34 mm of sea level rise.

This is what underpins much of the climate-sceptic ‘science’ – their ability to manipulate, omit, and violently corrupt good quality data to prove their own misguided point. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, even the President of the United States of America has this ability to manipulate data for perverse means, just take a look at how he chose to interpret MIT data to justify leaving the Paris Agreement.

Trump on the Paris Agreement
President Trump’s misquoted climate data allows him to state confidently that the Paris Agreement would only make a “tiny, tiny amount” of difference.
But don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the science and draw your own conclusions. Here is a useful editorial by a world-expert on sea level rise, Prof Ivan Haigh, fronting a 2017 edition of the peer-reviewed journal ‘Frontiers in Marine Science’, discussing how sea level will rise and the likely effects.


Dr Sebastian Pitman is a researcher in coastal morphodynamics at the University of Southampton. Take a look at some of his research here.

One thought on “Sea level rise has [not] stopped: how the climate sceptics choose ‘facts’ to support their unjustified conclusions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s