Sea Level (Levels?) Rising (Much updated)

I have read and heard with great interest statements about future rise in sea level. Much less frequently, I have read or heard about recent rise or rises in sea level or sea levels. I am a little puzzled by what I read and by what I hear. Some of it sounds downright absurd.

Two main observations. First, if global warming resulting from human activity must, in the future, cause the sea to rise, then, the sea should have risen already to some extent since the Industrial Revolution is at least 150 years old. It seems to me that no evidence of sea rise in that period would come close to dooming predictions of the  sea rising in the future as a result of human activity. (We all know that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, except when it is – Think of El Dorado, for example. Everyone has stopped looking.)

Second, it also seems to me that there cannot be a durable sea rise  in one part of the globe but not in another. I think the water in the ocean is like the water in my bathtub: Pour it at one end, it’s soon at the other end. But, what do I know? The only reason I did not fail high-school Physics is that I was not present when they gave the test.

To help dissipate my puzzlement, I consulted an expert chosen along well-established rational lines. He is an intellectually serious high-school teacher of good students. He teaches  in the general area of science. He is well educated. He has not told me so exactly but I would bet good money that he is a firm believer in climate change in general ( I don’t know  about any particulars.) The man knows me well enough to avoid giving me guidance that would go over my head. He knows me well enough also to limit himself to one assignment. Here is a link to the assignment he gave me.

It seems to me that it says that the ocean has risen 4 centimeters on the average over the last twenty years. I think that’s a lot. It seems to say also that it has risen more in some places than in others. I am surprised.

I would welcome anyone, especially my better, to help me interpret these findings

About Jacques Delacroix

I write short stories, current events comments, and sociopolitical essays, mostly in English, some in French. There are other people with the same first name and same last name on the Internet. I am the one who put up on Amazon in 2014: "I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography" and also: "Les pumas de grande-banlieue." To my knowledge, I am the only Jacques Delacroix with American and English scholarly publications. In a previous life, I was a teacher and a scholar in Organizational Theory and in the Sociology of Economic Development. (Go ahead, Google me!) I live in the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz, California.
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16 Responses to Sea Level (Levels?) Rising (Much updated)

  1. McHenry Ryan says:

    In this article, http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2255&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+YaleEnvironment360+%28Yale+Environment+360%29&utm_content=Google+Reader, there’s a few ideas on how regional differences occur. The ocean is so large maybe it has micro-climates/textures. It lists as reasons for this: winds moving a lot of water in one direction, the rising or sinking of large pieces of land in addition to the seas, and the gravitational pull of the ice sheets…I’ve never heard of that, but there’s a journal paper that talks about it here: http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/4/11/2013/esd-4-11-2013.pdf

    • All interesting ideas. The problem I am having is not with regional differences in themselves but with stable regional differences (because of my bath tub experience.) Why don’t you research this and get back to us here?

  2. Ryan says:

    This is no whole answer but I wanted to remember it before I have to go out for the day. After some internet browsing, it seems that the ocean is too large to behave like a bathtub, as it shows distortions caused by our planets unequal distribution of mass…on a macro scale.

    Here’s a quote from http://www2.cnrs.fr/en/1403.htm, this is a group mapping the variations in gravity on the entire surface of the globe with a satellite:

    “So why do the world’s oceans at rest show such hollows and bumps? The answer lies in the entrails of the planet. “If the Earth was immobile and made of just one material–i.e., if it was homogeneous–the geoid would be a sphere,” Diament says. “But our planet rotates, which gives it a flattened shape, and it is made of materials of different densities. The presence in one place of a magma reservoir at a depth of a few hundred meters, and in another of a sinking oceanic plate means that the density of the material beneath our feet varies, and with it the value of g [gravity].”

  3. Thank you Ryan: Does this mean that the surface of the ocean (oceans) is permanently not even? Does the ocean have pits an zits?
    The French connection you provide is not useful. It’s about some European space mission and it’s not dated.
    Are you saying that ocean water does note even have a tendency to fill hollower spaces?

  4. I has asked originally how much the ocean had already risen during some period of high human-based CO2 emissions. My other adviser (not Ryan) had directed me to this link:

    http://ibis.grdl.noaa.gov/SAT/SeaLevelRise/index.php

    The document of reference shows a rise of 4 cm in the past twenty years. It says nothing about previous rises. I make nothing of of the exiguousness of the back-forecast; I think it’s a simple function of the availability of measurement devices. However, I keep in mind that the question requires an answer for the approximately 150 years since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution minus the past twenty years the study of reference accounts for.

    There are excellent if old-fashioned measuring devices In Europe, in New England, in a part of China, and probably in Indonesia for a period extending much further back than 1860. The devices – iron bars inserted in solid harbor walls with a date – may be relatively insensitive . I mean that they may not distinguish well before 1200 mm and 1201 mm. That is not an obstacle to answering my question except if you want to admit (clearly) the following:

    Any ocean rise accompanying increasing emission of CO2 by humans over 130 years was so slight that it cannot be picked up by the relatively insensitive historical measurement devices. Satellites are (would have been ) required.

    (I wish I knew how to bold this!)

    It’s possible, not completely absurd, to take the ocean rise detected in the document of reference as a fair sample of the whole period of 150 years. If one does this, the estimated mean (average) rise in the ocean for the whole period is 30cm. That is about 11 inches, a little less than a foot. In places heavily frequented by mariners such as both the French and the English side of the English Channel. a change of the magnitude would have been discussed, documented; it would leave many public markings. No such exist, I think.

    This absence leads me to believe that the good measurement of a 4cm rise over twenty years give us an overestimate of what went on during the 150 years of the Industrial Revolution. This idea alone would make me cautious about predicting the future rises in the ocean if I were a changist pretending to follow science.

    It’s possible that any rise in the ocean would accelerate in some sort of step with an increase in human-related release of CO2 in the atmosphere. The rumors that get to me, an ordinary citizen, to enlist me in a collective effort to downgrade our standard of living, those rumors to not display an adequate level of sophistication. Since the level of sophistication required is quite modest, (see above), I think the changists don’t want anything examined by a normal, normally critical mind with a basic understanding of the scientific method. That’s just what you would expect from religious dogmatists.

  5. Jim Kress says:

    For a little reality check, the current rate of rise is somewhere in the range of 1.8 to 3.5 mm/yr (0.07 to 0 .14 in/yr) depending on the time period over which you calculate the trend.

    Further, as we have previously written, it doesn’t look as if the recent increased rates of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica are sustainable—much less going to linearly increase to the end of the century. All of this strongly argues that the 21st century sea level rise is not a problem that we can’t keep up with.

    http://www.cato.org/blog/current-wisdom-new-research-calls-question-high-rates-sea-level-rise

  6. Martin Anding says:

    Here’s another reference that casts doubt on man’s effect on sea level:
    Global mean sea level rose at an average rate of about 1.2 mm (0.05 inch) per year over much of the 20th century, with shorter terms during which the rise was significantly faster (5.5 mm [0.2 inches] per year during the period from 1946 to 1956). This variable rise has been shown to have occurred for a very long time. The sea level appears to have been very close to its present position 35,000 years ago. It dropped 130 m (426 feet) or more during the interval from 30,000 to 15,000 years ago and has been rising ever since. Fluctuations of equivalent magnitude probably have accompanied the alternate growth and melting of continental glaciers during the Pleistocene Epoch (from 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago) because the ocean’s waters are the ultimate source of glacial ice. Slower changes in the shapes and sizes of the ocean basins have less effect.

    • Martin, Jim. Thanks a lot for your contributions.

      I am trying to get honest changists to point to their sources and to be specific about what they fear. I am trying to do it without falling into the trap of arguing about technical matters with technicians.

      In my endeavor, sources that are easy to find and check matter a great deal.

  7. Terry Amburgey says:

    “Martin, Jim. Thanks a lot for your contributions.”
    Pardon the phrase; ditto.

  8. Bruce says:

    I’m just so relieved to hear that our new Secretary of State, John Kerry, has come to the rescue of our dear mother earth and is going to make world environmental issues his number one priority. I’m sure Kim Jong-un, Ahmadinejad, and Putin are very nervous with the prospect of this dynamic, no nonsense alpha male American combat veteran war hero at the helm.

  9. Wait until the bastards you name see our solar-powered tanks!

  10. Jacques…2mm sea rise per year is consistent with everything I’ve read. This is a much slower rate than the apocalypticists have predicted.

    In terms of one ocean being higher than another, that turn out to be more difficult to answer than it first appears. There are density effects that are dependent on both temperature and salinity, and a quick search shows the tides are out of phase, as I recall. to boot, there are ocean currents as well as other variables. I suspect that if everything were allowed to equilibrate your bathtub analogy would work out just fine. .

    • Thanks. I have a question about whether the sea level can be durably different in different spots. It seem a straightforward and obvious question. I wonder why it seems so difficult to get an answer. I blame my incompetence, of course but there is no crowd of volunteers trying to show me studies on the topic

      • I don’t really believe it can, but, there again, this is a problem I have with a lot of the “data” presented by climate “scientists.” I don’t know if you’ve ever heard my spiel on 2005 being the hottest year on record after the El Nino year in 1998. Bottom line is, they had to extrapolate data points 1000 Km (as I recall the distance) from actual measuring stations. If these points were left out, 2005 was actually cooler than 1998, All this was done to get a temperature approximately 0.05*C higher than 1998.

        Here’s something you might find interesting:

        http://www.psmsl.org/train_and_info/training/manuals/ioc_14ii.pdf

      • Vernon: Interesting story. Another of many horror stories of bad science connected with global warming. I, however, am trying to avoid the trap of arguing techniques with technicians.

        Anyone who wants me to change my way radically and to impoverish my children should be able to do it in clear, unspecializecd language. If they can’t, they have no clam and should be ignored.

        I hope to help a small number realize that they are dealing with a blind cult by showing in changists an inability or an unwillingness o answer simple questions.

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