Checking the Logic: Queensland Sea Level Rise

Ken Stewart, October 2010

A new report: Climate Change in Queensland: What the science is telling us was released this week by the Queensland government with much fanfare.  It’s a long, detailed, and informative report produced by the Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence.

It makes alarming claims which have been repeated and discussed in many other forums.  It relies in part on the State of the Climate Report of March 2010 by BOM and CSIRO.  Their predictions for rainfall have been ridiculed already (e.g. Political Science 101 ) and if the Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence relies on BOM’s High Quality temperature record, I have one word of advice:  DON’T!

I will examine just one of the claims in this latest report: sea level rise, and leave the reader to ponder the logical processes involved in accepting this.

The report, quoting  The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers published in August 2010 by the Australian Academy of Sciences says that sea levels in Queensland have been rising since 1920 at the rate of about 1.2mm per year.

Then on page 28 we are informed that Queensland is currently using 0.8 metres as the projected sea level rise by 2100.

Therefore the trend is expected to increase from 1.2mm per year to about 8.8 mm per year over the next 90 years- more than seven times the rate!   Let’s show this graphically:

In the same report, on page 17, they show the global land–ocean temperature record from UK Met Office Hadley Centre (HadCRUT3) between 1850 and 2009.

By the way, in today’s Weekend Australian, there are quotes from the official briefing from the Department of Climate Change and Energy.  One of the quotes is:  “The rate of global warming over the past 50 years of approximately 0.13 degrees Celsius per decade is about 100 times faster than the warming after an ice age.”  Have a look at the graph above and compare the rates of warming.  1960 -2010: 0.13 C per decade or 0.65 C over 50 years (as you can see it’s actually less- 0.6 C over 60 years!); 1860-1875: about 0.2 C over 15 years- much faster!  Again, 1910 – 1940: about 0.4 C over 30 years is the same as the rate claimed for the last 50 years.   There have been two additional phases of global warming equal or greater than the recent phase.  It seems you can’t trust anyone these days.

Then on page 18 the Queensland report links this to sea level rise:  “Sea level rise is caused by increases in ocean thermal expansion and ocean mass due to increasing global temperatures. Water expands when it heats up, increasing the level of the ocean.”

So let’s compare the “official” temperature record with some Australian sea level data.

First, Townsville.  This is the official chart of sea level rise from NOAA.

1.1mm per year- just slightly less than 1.2mm.  Has there been recent acceleration? Nope, looks pretty much the same, may even have lowered a little.

But Townsville’s data is only from the 1950s.  Let’s look at a longer record, say Sydney, since the 1880s.

Even less- 0.59mm per year!  And absolutely no sign of any acceleration.  And no sign of link with temperature.

So, if my grandchildren are going to see this 0.8m rise in sea level along the Queensland coast, there will have to be a very rapid increase very soon.  If there isn’t, the Australian Academy of Sciences, CSIRO, and the Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence will have considerable explaining to do for their scare mongering.

But they’ll be long forgotten.

12 Responses to “Checking the Logic: Queensland Sea Level Rise”

  1. Richard C (NZ) Says:

    “So, if my grandchildren are going to see this 0.8m rise in sea level along the Queensland coast, there will have to be a very rapid increase very soon.”

    But not looking likely given recent sea level trends – just the opposite.

    A number of contradictions here too:

    “Climate Change in Queensland: What the science is telling us” Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence.

  2. cohenite Says:

    Absoluting sterling work; when the AGW’s crew’s own data contradicts their conclusions you know something smells.

  3. Speedy Says:

    Hi Ken

    First time I’ve visited your site – well done!

    If you go to Jo Nova’s site you will see that only 5% of the man-made CO2 emissions happened before 1910. Was the sea level stable before then? No, funny enough, it wasn’t. But the alarmists still expect us to be able to control the sea level by taking us back to a medieval standard of living.

    Can you fathom their logic? I can’t.



    • Ken Stewart Says:

      Gday Speedy
      No logic at all- just claims fired off and lies dressed up as half truths.
      In reply to a question you had last week re “High Quality” , if you read through
      I’ve given an overview of what they claim and their methods. The site positioning is presumably better than others, and about half have a long continuous record or records that can be spliced reasonably well. They say they have improved the record by removing inhomogeneities (artificial jumps) by comparing with non-urban sites within 8 degrees lat and long and that these adjustments are neutral- but they’re not.

  4. val majkus Says:

    Hi Ken, thanks for this info and for your hard work and analysis, this is my comment from Warwick Hughes blog
    about this report:
    Figure 7 (a) at page 17 looks very much like the hockey stick and this is what the report says about it:

    Figure 7(a) shows the strong warming trend in the
    global temperature record since the early 20th
    century. Figure 7(b) shows the individual years
    in the record ranked according to their average
    temperature, the year ranked as number one
    (1998) being the warmest year on record. This
    figure highlights the increasing trend in global
    temperatures, with recent decades dominating
    as the warmest years.

    Sea level of course is rising and rainfall is diminishing (no mention of glaciers in this report) but lots to say about tipping points and future challenges and plenty of attribution to the IPCC”

    On that page I’ve now put a link to your site, also at Jo Nova and the Climate Conversation Group (sorry can’t find where I put it at CCG) but note you have some reader comments above from there

    Dr Marohasy has a comment on her blog about The CSIRO report entitled ‘Climate variability and change in south-eastern Australia’
    with a link to that report if you have time – and Warwick Hughes take on that report is comment no 7 here

  5. Paul80 Says:

    It interesting that you, Ken, have started to look at another of these climate mysteries!
    The data from satellite sea level measurements have been a puzzle for some time. Even the monitoring of the absolute heights above sea level of tide gauges has added to the mystery. If not already seen, these reports a worth studying: However one interprets this data, the projection (or “predictions”) defy logic.
    The resolution of GPS is 20 mm, but taken over some time an average is used. Certain ‘fixed’ earth points are used to calibrate the satellites, but how often? And are they really fixed and stable? The sea surface has ripples, waves, and breaking ‘white caps,’ so what is measured? How stable are the orbits?
    When the satellite corrected data differs from the long term data of tide gauges which are not known to be rising or sinking, one may ask, why has this discrepancy not been resolved? None of the ‘establishment’ attemt to answer thes questions !

    • Bernd Felsche Says:

      Absolute GPS position is rather dodgy for that level of precision. Especially altitude.

      My understanding is that the GPS uses a reference ellipsoid WGS84 (better than any climate model, but still approximate) to determine where the surface “should be” and hence determine altitude. The real surface is more lumpy and all of it distorts “significantly” on the millimetre scale due to e.g. gravitational and local thermal effects.

      Here’s the tip of the iceberg of error analysis:

      The other consideration about the real sea level is that air pressure and winds have a “significant” influence; on the millimetre scale. Even if you average for weeks, long-term phenomena such as el Niño, changes in storm wind patterns and tectonicmovements can still swamp any real signal in sea level rise due to thermal expansion of increased ice melt.

      I’ve put the word “significant” in quotes. Changes of this magnitude aren’t significant to the lives of ordinary people on annual or even decadal scales. Not unless they aspire to conquering mole-hills.

      Some things aren’t important simply because we (think that we) can measure them.

      • Paul80 Says:

        Thanks to Bernd for his comment and link to the GPS Error Analysis item. The accuracy of determining altitude is less that suggested by the GPS monitored tide gauges, especially prior to 2000. Neither is there any assessment of long term drift in the GPS system or the satellite sea level measurements in the published papers or the data sheets.
        With satellite data spanning at the most 15 to 17 years, the difference between 1.7 and 3.0 mm/yr (1.3) represents only 22 mm – hardly within the limits of measurement or significance, and then when 3.0 mm/yr is multiplied by 3 to predict a rise of another 800 mm to year 2100, and is used by governments as basis for legisation, it stretches one’s credulity to the limit. No one is willing to explain this discrepancy.

  6. cohenite Says:

    Ken, just one quibble; should the observed line in the first graph be blue not red?

  7. TWAWKI » Victoria’s green death Says:

    […] oceans and low sea level rise which according to the latest science is minimal (1mm per year) More here. All this the greens have ignored whilst they continue their alarmism and climate communism this […]

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