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A New Analysis of Sea Level Rise Along the Coast of the United States

Paper Reviewed
Watson, P.J. 2016. Acceleration in U.S. mean sea level? A new insight using improved tools. Journal of Coastal Research 32: 1247-1261.

Of all the predictions that could possibly result from CO2-induced global warming, few carry the level of concern as that associated with rapidly rising seas, where fears of flooded coastal infrastructure causing billions of dollars in economic damage and displacing millions of lives have frenzied the imagination of climate alarmists. Fortunately, however, analyses of contemporary measurements of sea level rise remain an order of magnitude lower than model projections, the latter of which envision an increase of a meter or more by the end of this century (see the many reviews we have posted here on this topic).

The latest study to illustrate this glaring discrepancy comes from the work of Watson (2016). Providing context for his analysis, the Australian researcher writes that "with the very ethos of the climate change science and projection modelling underpinned by necessary and significant accelerations in mean sea level, numerous works in the scientific literature have been dedicated to measuring accelerations that might provide improved instruction on the future sea level trajectory." However, he argues that the methodologies used in many of these prior works have inherent limitations that "have largely proven inadequate in charting the subtle temporal changes in the characteristics of mean sea level." As a result, debate continues to reign on whether or not model projections of sea level rise are in line with observations.

Taking a new approach to the subject, Watson provides what he calls "an updated appraisal of acceleration in mean sea-level records around the continental United States through use of a recently developed analytical package," which he says has been "specifically designed to substantially enhance estimates of trend, real-time velocity, and acceleration in relative mean sea level derived from contemporary ocean-water-level data sets." In all, data from 29 locations around the US were utilized, each of which records contained a minimum of 80 years of length.

So what did this new analysis reveal?

Although regional differences were noted in the data, Watson reports that "at the 95% confidence level, no consistent or substantial evidence (yet) exists that recent rates of rise are higher or abnormal in the context of the historical records available for the United States, nor does any evidence exist that geocentric rates of rise are above the global average." In other words, there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about current rates of sea level rise along the US coast, which rates continue to be at odds with model projections of future sea level rise due to CO2-induced global warming.

These findings do not bode well for climate alarmists who have based their surety of the future on model projections that fail to match reality.

Posted 2 March 2017