When Sea Level Change is NOT Sea Level Change

by Dr. Timothy Ball
Science&Public Policy
December 12, 2011

Figure 1. Click to enlarge image

Many claim sea level is rising because of global warming and point to changes along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Sea level has risen since the end of the last Ice Age (Figure 1), but it has slowed dramatically in the last few hundred years. However, shoreline change is not just a function of water level change. Misdirection using fear and misinformation divert from and hinder human ability to adapt to an ever changing world.

When you visit a shoreline over time and the water line changes, it is natural to assume, because of education and reason, it is the water level that has changed. This may be the case, and if so, it is called eustasy. However, it is also possible that the land is rising or falling in a process called isostasy. There are ways to determine which change is going on, but not by observation. This difficulty often results in people attributing a sea level rise incorrectly as evidence of global warming when it is the land that is sinking. This misattribution occurs most often on the Gulf of Mexico coast of the southern US.

The continents are formed of Sial, an abbreviation of silica and aluminum. This makes the continental crust lighter than the underlying oceanic crust, which is primarily silica and magnesium, Sima. The latter is rich in iron and more dense than the continental crust. It means the continents effectively ‘float’ on the underlying oceanic crust, which in turn sits on the fluid material of the mantle. The continents rise and fall with tidal frequency from the pull of the moon.

Figure 2 compares North America 20,000 years ago with today. The blue on the left map shows the extent of the ice, which was greater in area than Antarctica and 3000 m (10,000 feet) deep in the dark blue region centered on Hudson Bay. Notice the difference in coastline as sea level was approximately 140 m (460 feet) lower.

Figure 2. Click to enlarge image

Consider the weight of the ice sitting on a floating continent. Figure 3 is a cross section along the line AB on Figure 2 illustrating how the ice deforms the land.

When winter snow survived the summer melt high in the Torngat Mountains of Labrador, layers built until a continental glacier was formed. The ice sheet centre spread west as the snow was heavier in the prevailing westerlies. At the peak of glaciation, the thickest ice lay over Hudson Bay.

It is easier to think of the continent as a sponge floating in water. Place a heavy metal disc on the sponge and two things happen. The sponge is depressed as you can see at A on Figure 3. This is called crustal deformation. However, the weight of the ice also pushed the continent down into the underlying mantle at B. The southern end of the continent at C was pushed upward. The pivotal line for rotation of the continent is along the southern edge of the ice; and some associate the New Madrid Fault zone and increased earthquake activity with this line.

The line of zero depression, or hinge line, due to the combination of crustal deformation and isostasy is along the southern edge of the

Figure 3. Click to enlarge image

ice. As the ice began to melt, the land started to rebound, just as the sponge recovers shape when the metal disc is removed.
In North America, a massive proglacial lake formed along the southern edge of the ice sheet. Lake Agassiz is reported to be the largest freshwater lake ever formed (Figure 4). Lake Winnipeg, which is the 13th largest lake in the world by area, is just a remnant of Agassiz.

It is outflow from Lake Agassiz that became part of another global warming scare when it was theorized to have caused dramatic changes in the North Atlantic Thermohaline current and subsequent climate change.

Figure 4. Click to enlarge image

Beaches formed along the shores of Lake Agassiz, especially in western Manioba, were obviously level. As the land rebounded they were distorted so a survey along the highest and longest Campbell Beach shows the North end is now some 935 feet higher than the South end. It is one measure of the amount of rebound. It was surprisingly fast immediately after retreat of the ice, estimated at 10 m (33 feet) to 12 m (39 feet) per century. It is still a rapid 1.3m (4.3 feet) per century. This is a combination of recovery of crustal deformation, but mostly the continent rebalancing itself. As this happens the land rises and sea level appears to drop along the Arctic coast, but land sinks and sea level appears to rise along the Gulf of Mexico.

Isostatic adjustment will continue in North America as estimates based on depth of ice indicate total depression at 400 m (1300 feet). This means approximately 111 m (365 feet) of rebound will occur. Both sea level rise due to eustasy and land sinking due to isostasy will continue along the Gulf of Mexico. The good news is both are consequences of buildup of massive glaciers on the continent and consequent sea level drop to the peak of the Wisconsin ice advance 20,000 years ago. Now, as we appear to reach the peak of the Interglacial, the melt of the glaciers on the continent and resulting sea level rise are slowing. Rate of these events are known. Now we
must stop the exploitation of fear using false information so we can prepare appropriately for a constantly changing world and climate.


United Nations Agenda 21 to Rule the Oceans

By Dennis Amble
April 20, 2011

Whilst everyone has been occupied with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s defense before Congress of the EPA’s attempts to regulate CO2 emissions, the Administration has continued to move towards International Ocean Governance with the establishment of a Governance Coordinating Committee for the National Ocean Council, (NOC). The NOC has been long in the making and earlier history of Ocean legislation can be found here, going back to the 1969 Stratton Commission and beyond. However the current impetus dates to the Pew Oceans Commission in 2003 and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy – An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century in 2004, mandated by the Oceans Act 2000.

The recommendations of the Pew Oceans Commission and the US Commission on Ocean Policy were very similar, even down to the coastal maps used to preface the reports. The pretence was abandoned in 2005 with the formation of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, co-chaired by the chairs of the Pew Commission and the US Commission on Ocean Policy.
In 2007 came Oceans-21, the short name given to HR-21, The Oceans Conservation, Education, and National Strategy for the 21st Century Act. It was designed to implement the policies favoured by the Joint Oceans Commission Initiative, but it never became law.

On June 12th 2009 the White House published a Presidential Memorandum to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies relating to a “National Policy for The Ocean, Our Coasts and The Great Lakes”. It established an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force (Task Force), to be led by the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality “in order to better meet our Nation’s stewardship responsibilities for the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes”

The influence of the climate agenda was clear:

“Challenges include water pollution and degraded coastal water quality caused by industrial and commercial activities both onshore and offshore, habitat loss, fishing impacts, invasive species, disease, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification. Oceans both influence and are affected by climate change. They not only affect climate processes but they are also under stress from the impacts of climate change.”

The Pew and US Commission policies surfaced again in the report of the Task Force, the Final Recommendations Of The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, (OPTF), July 19, 2010.

Freedom Advocates claimed that “thirty states would be encroached upon by Obama’s Executive Order establishing the National Ocean Council for control over America’s oceans, coastlines and the Great Lakes.”


The members of the Task Force included, amongst other government agency representation:

Nancy Sutley, Task Force Chair. She is also chair of The Council on Environmental Quality and is principal environmental policy adviser to the President. Ms. Sutley was a special assistant to Carol Browner, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton. Sutley is co-chair of the National Ocean Council with John Holdren.

Jane Lubchenco Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, NOAA Administrator, she was a member of the Pew Oceans Commission in 2003 and is still, as a government employee, listed as a current member of that organisation and a member of the Joint Ocean Commission. She is also a member of the National Ocean Council as NOAA Administrator.

Peter Silva, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water. Silva resigned from post on January 14 2011, a day after he decided to revoke the permit of a mountain top mining proposal in Appalachia. Nancy Stoner, deputy assistant administrator, is now Acting Assistant Administrator. She was with the Natural Resources Defense Council before joining the EPA.

Lubchenco served, until her NOAA appointment, on the boards of the World Resources Institute, Environmental Defense, and on advisory committees for the National Research Council, the National Science Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme.

She was a contributor to the 1991 report of the National Research Council, Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming, along with Stephen Schneider, Maurice Strong, Tom Karl, William Nordhaus and others. She is shown as an Advisory Board Member of Diversitas, a UN linked, international government funded diversity institute, along with Paul Ehrlich, and Harold Mooney, of Stanford.

Ms. Lubchenco is a member of the National Research Council panel, America’s Climate Choices, along with long time associate John Holdren, Director of President Obama’s Office of Science and Technology. They are both on the National Oceans Council. In an interview in July 2009, with Yale Environment 360, she referred to ocean acidification as global warming’s “equally evil twin.” The interview title was hubristically titled, “Restoring Science to US Climate Policy”
Her policies on fishing have been heavily attacked by the industry and in July last year, Gloucester Times reported that Massachusetts congressmen Barney Frank and John Tierney had “called for her to resign or be fired over what they described as her “hostility” and lack of accountability toward the American fishing industry.”

In its introduction, the presidential task force report invoked the Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as one justification for full federal control of the oceans around the US coasts. It also stated that, “it is the Policy of the United States to use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes, and enhance humanity’s capacity to understand, respond, and adapt to a changing global environment.” Yet their “best available science” appears to be the contested science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, as shown in these familiar claims.

Climate change is impacting the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. Increasing water temperatures are altering habitats, migratory patterns, and ecosystem structure and function.

Coastal communities are facing sea-level rise, inundation, increased threats from storms, erosion, and significant loss of coastal wetlands.

The ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere buffers the impacts of climate change, but also causes the ocean to become more acidic, threatening not only the survival of individual species of marine life, but also entire marine ecosystems.

The ocean buffers increased global temperatures by absorbing heat, but increasing temperatures are causing sea levels to rise by expanding seawater volume and melting land-based ice. Increased temperatures may eventually reduce the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide.

Their “best available science” includes Jane Lubchenco’s debasement of science in this propaganda video on the NOAA website, purporting to show ocean acidification. Of course the objective is to provide another scary reason for taxing energy. On sea level, NOAA’s own tide gauge data show an average sea level rise of less than 2 inches per century, in line with this assessment by S. J. Holgate, Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Liverpool, UK.

Read Full Report…

The Royal Society: Planetary Warming Uncertain

UK’s leading scientific body steps back and admits that it is “not known” how much warmer the planet will become.

Patrick Henningsen

The Royal Society has released a new guide which outlines a retreat from its former vanguard stance on the threat of climate change and man-made global warming. The decision to update their scientific guide came after 43 of its members complained that the previous versions failed to take into account the opinion of climate change sceptics.

The new guide, entitled ‘Climate change: a summary of the science’, concedes that there are now major ‘uncertainties’ regarding the once sacred ‘scientific consensus’ behind man-made global warming theory, admitting that not only is it impossible to know for sure how the Earth’s climate will change in the future but it cannot possibly know what the effects may be. The 19-page guide states clearly, ’It is not possible to determine exactly how much the Earth will warm or exactly how the climate will change in the future, but careful estimates of potential changes and associated uncertainties have been made”.

The guide continues stating, “There is currently insufficient understanding of the enhanced melting and retreat of the ice sheets on Greenland and West Antarctica to predict exactly how much the rate of sea level rise will increase above that observed in the past century for a given temperature increase”.

In a Sept 20, 2010 article published on the UK Daily Mail, Professor Anthony Kelly, academic advisor to  Britain’s Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) explains, ”The previous guidance was discouraging debate rather than encouraging it among knowledgeable people. The new guidance is clearer and a very much better document”.

The decision to revise and tone down its alarmist position on climate change demonstrates a clear u-turn on its previous 2007 climate pamphlet, one which is said to have caused an internal rebellion by the 43 fellows of the Society, triggering a review and subsequent revision. The 2007 publication, which parroted the IPCC’s popular, but misleading impression that the ‘science is settled’ – made way for the new guide which accepts that important questions remain open and uncertainties unresolved. “The Royal Society now also agrees(with us) that the warming trend of the 1980s and 90s has come to a halt in the last 10 years,” said Dr Benny Peiser, the Director of GWPF.

Economic realities and a marked shift in public opinion since last year’s Climategate scandal and failure of the much-hyped UN Copenhagen Summit have triggered a series of falling dominos within the climate change and anthropogenic global warming (AGW) orthodoxy. The Royal Society’s shift also follows last week’s blow to the radical climatist agenda within Britain, where the new Coalition Government announced it will be slashing its Climate Change Department’s budget and folding the former free-standing bureaucracy into the Treasury department.

Some analysts also believe that the Society’s new guide does not go far enough. Dr David Whitehouse, the science editor of the GWPF said: “The biggest failing of the new guide is that it dismisses temperature data prior to 1850 as limited and leaves it at that. It would cast a whole new light on today’s warming if the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period and the Bronze Age Warm Period were as warm as today, possibility even warmer than today. A thorough discussion of the growing empirical evidence for the global existence of the Medieval Warm Period and its implications would have been a valuable addition to the new report.”

In addition, this retreat by the Royal Society signals a very real trend in climate science circles where political activism is slowly being replaced by a more sober assessment of the scientific evidence and ongoing climate debates.

The Political Fallout

To date, the political activist engine powering climate change has been anchored by an elite circle of scientists, foundations, green journalists, carbon financiers- and politicians looking for a good cause. The fuel for this engine has been supplied by short-term economic opportunities, most of which has been in the form of massive research grants, subsidies and feed-in tariffs(triggering a rise in energy costs to the consumer) by the State and confederate bodies like the UN and the European Union. In the US, problems with climate change inspired instruments like Cap and Trade are more chronic, where North America’s sole carbon trading market, the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), has recently been scaled down following a decline in investment and the near complete collapse in carbon emission prices.

As formerly obedient IPCC scientists and insiders gradually break ranks and defect over to the common sense camp, and foundations like the Royal Society reverse their policies on the nature of the climate threat, politicians may lose the once reliable traction they enjoyed when promoting their various green agendas.

This is followed, of course, by the economic reality of any democracy whereby taxpayers cannot really back departments, much less policies, that do not deliver a measured benefit to the public welfare. If the IPCC’s elite chamber of scientists cannot be trusted to objectively measure past global temperatures (actual UN data sets show that there has been no temperature increase since circa 1998), then it goes without saying that politicians cannot build real-world policy catering for a crisis that is not actually happening. The rising tide of scepticism and the reemergence of real scientific analysis will surely spell an end to the innumerable faith-based policies and guesswork forecasting that has plagued the climate change movement to date.

As science gradually makes its way back into line with reality and real world observation, it follows that many of the climate bureaucracies erected since 2000 will stumble as a result. The reason for this phenomenon is spelled out in the basic laws of ‘political physics’; a collapse of the so-called “scientific consensus” comes into direct conflict with one of the main tenets of politics- plausible deniability. When politicians can no longer use scientists as scapegoats, as in “it’s not our fault, they told us CO2 was heating up the planet…”, then the political agenda is all but dead.

The reality curve is certainly catching up to climate change now.