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A New Analysis of European Sea Level Rise

Paper Reviewed
Watson, P.J. 2017. Acceleration in European mean sea level? A new insight using improved tools. Journal of Coastal Research 33: 23-38.

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. A 2011 report by the European Union (Watkiss, 2011), for example, projects annual damages resulting from future sea rise will amount to 11 billion across Europe by the 2050s, increasing to 25 billion by the 2080s (Brown et al., 2011). But in order for these estimates to come to fruition, rates of sea level rise must increase an order of magnitude above their current values (from approximately 3mm/y to 10-20 mm/y by 2100). So how is that going? Is nature complying with the model-based projections?

Some insight in this regard can be gained from the recent analysis of Watson (2017), who provided "an updated appraisal of acceleration in mean sea-level records around Europe through use of a recently developed analytical package," which he says has been "specifically designed to enhance substantially 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 83 locations around Europe were utilized, each of which records contained a minimum of 80 years of length though nearly all extended well beyond 100 years of records.

So what did this new analysis reveal?

Although regional differences were noted in the data, Watson reports "at the 95% confidence level, no consistent or compelling evidence (yet) exists that recent rates of rise are higher or abnormal in the context of the historical records available across Europe, nor is there any evidence that geocentric rates of rise are above the global average." In other words, what he found reveals that there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about current rates of sea level rise along the coasts of Europe, which rates are presently at odds with model projections of future sea level rise due to CO2-induced global warming. What is more, Watson reports that "the results and findings from this large study of European mean sea-level records are broadly consistent with those for the complimentary study of the mainland U.S. records (Watson, 2016). And taken together, the combined results of these two studies do not bode well for climate alarmists who have based their surety of the future on model projections that fail to match reality.

Brown, S., Nicholls, R.J., Vafeidis, A., Hinkel, J. and Watkiss, P. 2011. The impacts and economic costs of sea-level rise on coastal zones in the EU and the costs and benefits of adaptation. Summary of results from the EC RTD ClimateCost Project. In: Watkiss, P. (ed.), The ClimateCost Project. Final Report. Volume 1: Europe. Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm Environment Institute, 43p.

Watkiss, P. 2011. The ClimateCost Project. Final Report, Volume 1: Europe. Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm Environmental Institute.

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

Posted 22 May 2017