2010 Sea Level: Largest drop ever recorded?

Based on the most current data it appears that 2010 is going to show the largest drop in global sea level ever recorded in the modern era.  Since many followers of global warming believe that the rate of sea level rise is increasing, a significant drop in the global sea level highlights serious flaws in the IPCC projections.  The oceans are truly the best indicator of climate.  The oceans drive the world’s weather patterns.  A drop in the ocean levels in a year that is being cited as proof that the global warming has arrived shows that there is still much to learned.  If the ocean levels dropped in 2010, then there is something very wrong with the IPCC projections.

The best source of sea level data is The University of Colorado.  Only government bureaucracy could put the sea level data in one of the places farthest from the ocean, but that is where it is.  I use both data sets that includes the seasonal signal.  So with and without the inverted barometer applied.  This is the source of the data that is used to show that the oceans are rising.  Of course the rate of rise is greatly exaggerated and if the rate from 1993-2010 is used there will be a 1m rise in the year 2361.

Of course the rate is not constant.  The rate of rise over the past 5 years has been half the overall rate.  At the rate of the past 5 years it will be the year 2774 before the oceans rise a single meter.  Of course a decrease in the rate is technically an negative acceleration in the rate of rise, so technically the rate of rise is accelerating, but in a negative direction.  That statement is misleading though as most people consider acceleration to be a positive effect.

The Inconvenient Skeptc

Sea Level Change

Even more interesting is the fact that from 1992-2005 there was an increase each year.  2006 was the first year to show a drop in the global sea level.  2010 will be the 2nd year to show a decrease in sea level.  That is correct, 2 of the past 5 years are going to show a decrease in sea level.  2010 could likely show a significant drop global sea level.  By significant I mean it is possible that it will likely drop between 2-3 mm from 2009.  Since the data has not been updated since August it is difficult to guess more precisely, but the data ends at the time of year that the seasonal drop begins to show up.  If the drop does show up as expected it is possible that 2010 will show the largest drop in sea level ever recorded.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

2010 will show a significant drop in sea level from 2009.

Of course what will happen won’t be known until the data for the past 5 months is made available.  I have been patiently waiting for the data to be updated for several months now, but I got tired of waiting and decided to put the information I have out there.

One fact is certain.  A drop in sea level for 2 of the past 5 years is a strong indicator that a changing sea level is not a great concern.  In order for the IPCC prediction to be correct of a 1m increase in sea level by 2100, the rate must be almost 11 mm/yr every year for the next 89 years.  Since the rate is dropping, it makes the prediction increasingly unlikely.  Not even once in the past 20 years has that rate ever been achieved.  The average rate of 2.7 mm/yr is only 25% of the rate needed for the IPCC prediction to be correct.

This is yet another serious blow the accuracy of the official IPCC predictions for the coming century.  The fact that CO2 levels have been higher in the last 5 years that have the lowest rate of rise than the years with lower CO2 levels is a strong indicator that the claims of CO2 are grossly exaggerated.

Posted in Ocean: Sea Level and SST by inconvenientskeptic on January 16th, 2011 at 8:53 pm.


This post has 36 comments

  1. I too have been noticing that the sea level rise has been decelerating.

    Do any of the climate models predict this?

    It seems counter-intuitive that sea levels should cease there rate of rise. If man-made CO2 is warming the planet even very slightly then there will inevitably be water runoff from melt water and thermal expansion of the oceans. Sea levels should be rising at least as fast as they have in the past.

    Is this current deceleration in sea-level rise explainable in the context of ever increasing man-made CO2 levels?

  2. inconvenientskeptic Jan 16th 2011

    The climate models predict increasing rate of rising, not a decrease in the rate. There are two parts to the sea level rise. Warming water that expands and meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets.

    The oceans not rising indicates that neither event is happening or one is offsetting the other. The mass loss of Greenland thus far is trivial on a global scale.

    Of interest is that the daily evaporation rate in the oceans is about 2.5 mm. So the annual rate is about equal to a single day of evaporation.

  3. Richard111 Jan 17th 2011

    John, your last comment about daily evaporation rate reminded me that water vapour levels (H20) were decreasing in the upper troposphere. Would this not account for a portion of the sea level rise since the total water vapour content of the atmosphere has reduced?

    A while back I attempted to work out, in my layman fashion, how much landborne ice must melt to raise sea levels by 1 metre. I also attempted to calculate the energy required to achieve this.


    If ever the conversation turns to rising sea levels I let my listeners know that it would require in excess of 97,000 cubic miles of ice to melt to fulfill the prediction.

  4. inconvenientskeptic Jan 17th 2011

    The back of the envelope estimate is that the atmosphere holds about 30-35 mm worth of ocean. Since it is always gaining about 2.5 mm and losing the same I don’t see it as causing too much of a change over time.

    The energy required for this is enormous. In fact the energy requirements for evaporation are one of the biggest barriers to global warming. There is limited energy available to cause evaporation. If water evaporates too quickly, that cools the surface and the energy transferred is high in the atmosphere and can easily escape into space there.

    The ice melting rate is stable over time. It has been elevated in the past 10 years, but not abnormally so. The melt rate would require something like 15,000 years to finish off Greenland. I am not overly worried about that.

  5. I’ve calculated the rate of rise since 2003, and made it available here.

    Please notice that it has been going down (be careful: the rate is going down; not sea-level) almost continuously since the beginning of 2006, only interrupted in the fall2009-spring2010, probably due to “El Nino”.


  6. Phillip Bratby Jan 17th 2011

    Is it unusual for the Jason data to be so delayed before being published? Or is this an indication that La Nina could be resulting in a rapid fall in level?

  7. Bill K Jan 17th 2011

    Your first graph clearly shows sea levels are rising. The rise is not steady and no one has claimed it would be. But the trend clear to anyone who has passed 8th grade science. Get a lawyer and sue your old middle school for educational malpractice.

  8. Yes John,
    I quite agree. It is the energy transfer between frozen/liquid/gaseous water phases which controls the climate. This can easily be seen from the energies required to:
    (i) melt ice (at 0 C) to water: 80 cal/g
    (ii) heat water from 0 to 100 C: 100 cal/g
    (iii) to evaporate water (at 100 C): 540 cal/g

    Given the enormous amounts of water which are daily evaporated and re-condensed, it is obvious that this energy transfer has a major influence on the climate. But you will not find it in IPCC models.

    Klaus Kaiser
    Author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts (www.convenientmyths.com)

  9. inconvenientskeptic Jan 17th 2011

    Bill K,

    A linear regression through stochastic will always give misleading results. If it did work then no one would ever lose money in the stock market.

    As pointed out by other readers, the rate has been dropping since 2003. That is significantly different than the IPCC statements and predications.

  10. Werner Weber Jan 17th 2011

    There is a big uncertainty how much pumping of ground water and fossile water contributes to sea level rise. There are contributions to sea level rise when the ground water level is permanently lowered. Or when fossile water layers are opened. Numbers of estimates are: total pumped water is 1200 km3/year (would correspond to 3.5 mm rise/y). Out of that 300 km3/y are estimated as permanent effects (1mm/y). But nobody knows hard numbers. People pump for growing food, who should blame them. Then there is evapotranspiration of the food plants and the rain water ends in the ocean.
    Can we wait hundred years, before hard data are taken?

  11. Ed Caryl Jan 17th 2011

    Prediction: if sea level falls, the warmists will blame it on increased precipitation on the arctic and Antarctic ice caps due to global warming.

  12. William Jan 17th 2011

    There are in paleo record unexplained changes in sea level. Changes which do not correlate with climate change.

    It is interesting the 20th century sea level changes cannot be explained by thermal expansion and mass changes (ice sheet losses and/or glacial melting).

    I would expect the current sea level drop is caused by the same phenomena that caused the large drop in the ionosphere.


    Mass and volume contributions to twentieth-century
    global sea level rise

    The rate of twentieth-century global sea level rise and its causes are the subjects of intense controversy1–7. Most direct estimates from tide gauges give 1.5–2.0 mm/yr, whereas indirect estimates based on the two processes responsible for global sea level rise, namely mass and volume change, fall far below this range. Estimates of the volume increase due to ocean warming give a rate of about 0.5mmyr21 (ref. 8) and the rate due to mass increase, primarily from the melting of continental ice, is thought to be even smaller. Therefore, either the tide gauge estimates are too high, as has been suggested recently6, or one (or both) of the mass and volume estimates is too low.


    Sea Level Change Through the Last Glacial Cycle

    Furthermore, the pre-LGM period is characterized by substantial fluctuations in sea level of 10 to 15 m about every 6000 years. The timing of these rapid change events during oxygen isotope stage 3 (OIS–3) apparently coincides with Heinrich ice-rafting events recorded in North Atlantic sediments (61), which suggests that they reflect major ice discharges from continent-based or shelf grounded ice sheets (62).

  13. intrepid_wanders Jan 17th 2011

    I wonder how much extra moisture could be pulled into the Earth’s biomass?

    The biomass has been feeding well as of late 😉

  14. I see that every few years sea level peaks and drops on your graph. I fail to see how this recent drop is any different than the overall pattern presented in the graph. Will you admit you are wrong when in the next few years sea level begins to rise again? Or will that be too inconvenient a truth?

  15. inconvenientskeptic Jan 19th 2011


    There is a seasonal variation with a drop early in the year and an increase late in the year. From 1993-2005 there was an overall increase every year. The likely drop in 2010 will be the 2nd in five years. As that would be a fact there is nothing about it to be incorrect about.

    If you are asking if I could change my mind about global warming if there was sufficient evidence, the answer is yes.

    But I have to ask this. If the sea levels start dropping year after year, would you change your conclusion?

  16. Inconvenient: At the U of Colorado website, you can get sea level data with or without the average seasonal trend removed and with or without the effect of changing barometric pressure removed. If you are interested in long term trends related to climate, you obviously should be looking at the sea level with seasonal effects removed and the inverted barometer applied. Why didn’t you show your readers this data – which shows that NOTHING SPECIAL HAPPENED IN 2010? The biggest deviations from a constant rate of sea level rise of +3.0 mm/yr on this graph are a rise around 1998 (the largest El Nino) and drop around 2006.


    Why does it make sense to look at the seasonally adjust signal? There is more ocean in the Southern Hemisphere than the Northern Hemisphere. The ocean warms and expands during the local summer. Average sea level therefore rises during the southern summer.

    Why does it make sense to correct the data using an “inverted barometer”? Sea level rises where the air pressure is lower. Average atmospheric pressure is 760 mm of Hg and varies locally by about 1%. (The lows associated with strong storms are a few % and up to 10% for the most intense hurricanes.) Water is 13.5 times less dense than mercury, so sea level rises 13.5 times more than the mercury in a barometer. Everyday local 1% changes atmospheric pressure (7.6 mm) result in about 100 mm (4 inches) local changes in sea level. When we are trying to detect changes in average global sea level rise of 3 mm/yr, changes in local barometric pressure are a major nuisance. The inverted barometer corrects for this problem. Of course, lows in atmospheric pressure must be compensated by highs elsewhere on the globe, but 30% of the air is over land where variation doesn’t effect sea level. When there are more highs over land than usual, global sea level rises.

    Accurately measuring global sea level rise is a difficult problem. We measure sea level from satellites 1000 km above the surface of the ocean in orbits that change with the inhomogeneity in local gravity. We don’t have perfect knowledge of local atmospheric pressure. Even after applying these seasonal and barometric corrections, (weekly?) data points vary randomly up to 10 mm and the 60 day average varies about 3 mm from the long term trend. These variations represent 3 YEAR’S and 1 YEAR’S worth of average sea level rise. NOTHING that happens in ANY ONE year is likely to be meaningful! Like your post on this subject.

  17. NoWayOut Jan 20th 2011

    try with the data with the inverse barometer correction applied and the picture changes. Or are you suggesting that air above has no effect?
    Anyways, up to now (I mean, data not fancy extrapolations) the purported decrease is 0.6 mm, hardly conclusive with such noisy data.

  18. “try with the data with the inverse barometer correction applied ”


    2009.737 = 31.748mm

    2010.7415 = 28.119mm

    A drop of 3.5mm from the same point in 2009 to 2010

  19. inconvenientskeptic Jan 24th 2011

    For that specific measurement there is a 3.5mm difference, but the year as a whole is more significant. The data for the sea level is noisy as a whole which is why I focus on the yearly average.

  20. Its interesting to look at the last few years at the same point

    2006.7236 26.640
    2007.7280 25.493
    2008.7054 23.759
    2009.7370 31.748
    2010.7415 28.119

    A 4 year net of 2.5mm

    Many AGW scaremongers are projecting a 1000mm rise by 2100.

    They need 11mm a year to get to that number, and from 2006 they are getting 0.6mm per year.

  21. Ooops. Bad math. It has only been 1.5mm from 2006.

  22. inconvenientskeptic Jan 25th 2011

    Their projections are not looking very good. The next decade will be very interesting. I am not ready to bet that the next decade will have a sea level drop, but almost ready for that.

  23. Tobyw Feb 1st 2011

    Water starts expanding near the freezing point, about -2-4C for salt water. Lots of water at the sea bottom in that temperature range. Sea bottom temps have fallen from 17C to the zero range in 90M years according to a graph I ran across. I’ll dig up is anyone wants to see it.

    There is also a phenomenon of CaCO3 dissolving near the 4000M level.


  24. inconvenientskeptic Feb 2nd 2011

    That would be an interesting bit of data. I would be surprised that the ocean depths were that warm. It is difficult to exchange energy to the depths.

  25. Tobyw Feb 2nd 2011

    Correction, the 90M year temp was 19C.

    Woods Hole has lots of interesting research, particularly currents. Some takes hard work to locate.


    Possibly heat transfer from a warmer mantle, or more likely, currents from warmer polar regions. I have the impression that cold currents from polar melt winds up at the bottom. Common sense would indicate some warming at the floor, but that does not seem to be the case.

    There is also an interesting 30-40M year cycle. It would be interesting to plot the near-term data, but, alas, my skills are not good..

  26. inconvenientskeptic Feb 2nd 2011

    The drop in temperature correlates to the climate for the past 50 million years pretty well.

    The main events show up clearly like Antarctica freezing over (then thawing out 24 million years ago for a little) and the start of the NH glacial cycles 2.6 million years ago.

    The Earth has lost a lot of energy over the past 10 million years… Polar currents are currently important in cooling the deep ocean.

  27. janama Feb 20th 2011

    The argo bouys show that the oceans are cooling since 2003 so you would expect a drop in sea level as it contracts. – The models don’t predict this.

  28. JoeFromEveryWhere Feb 25th 2011
  29. inconvenientskeptic Feb 25th 2011


    No. The cause of the drop could be the cooling. I don’t discuss the reason why the drop will occur, I just discuss the drop.

    There are a couple of other articles that discuss the acceleration of the sea level change that you might find interesting as well.

  30. Interesting and definitely data to keep an eye on, thanks. Just one note about the rise falling short of IPCC predections: who’s to say that sea level rise is linear?

  31. Marc, did the IPCC predict 30 years of low linear rise, then a few years of rising and dropping?

    Its easy to predict doom and gloom, but after 30 years of “global warming” you would think some predictions would come close to beig true.

    But a dropping sea level in 2010 is NOT a rise.

  32. Steve Oct 7th 2011

    This short term drop was due to a stronger than usual la Nina effect, much more rainfall on land. But good stuff for the untrained skeptic. http://news.discovery.com/earth/rain-falls-sea-falls-111006.html

  33. AGW/ACC is all about political power and money. Read the documents – in their own words in its entirety unedited. These are the people that invented AGW/ACC – Al Gore is just a spokesman for them.

    They use phrases like “Shared Vision”
    (excerpts from the first eight pages alone of the 181 pages)
    Note: The quotes were added to show their agenda purpose and objective in the statements

    PP.3 Acknowledging the important role of the Kyoto Protocol in contributing to the ultimate objective of the Convention, and the need to “broaden the legal commitments under the Convention.” Substantial reductions of GHG emissions from Annex I countries should be agreed,
    TRANSLATION: It is about the political power and having legal power over all governments world wide for power and money.

    PP.6 Intending to renew and strengthen “the global partnership through the creation of new levels of cooperation among Parties, according to the principles of the Convention.”
    TRANSLATION: One World Government

    PP.13 Recognizing that current and potential climate change impacts “require a shift in the global investment patterns and that criteria for financing allocation shall clearly respond to the priorities identified by the international community”, with climate change stabilization being one of these priorities.
    TRANSLATION: It is all about their control over the money.

    PP.15 “Further acknowledging that developed countries have a historical responsibility for their disproportionate contribution to the causes and consequences of climate change, reflecting their disproportionate historical use of a shared global carbon space since 1850 as well as their proposed continuing disproportionate use of the remaining global carbon space.”
    TRANSLATION: Before there can be a victim, there has to be a villain Developed nations are the villain That underdeveloped nations have been fighting among themselves – it is about the money and power – they have to take from those that have been productive, keep a bunch for themselves, and hand some to their friends and those they use in the political game they are playing.

    This annex contains text from paragraphs 1–17 (pages 5–21) of the revised negotiating text (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/INF.1), as reordered and consolidated by Parties and the facilitator of the informal group on “shared vision.” The approach to consolidation emerged from informal exchanges among Parties and was presented to the informal group on shared vision for proposals for preambular paragraphs 1–6 and paragraphs 1–4. After the informal meeting, the same approach was applied by the facilitator to the remaining proposals.
    TRANSLATION: This Treaty is all about the current 27 secret totalitarian dictator Commissars to have absolute control over the worlds societies and economies. Nothing more. AGW/ACC is the excuse they are using to achieve their “Shared Vision’ goal. They are dreaming of what they can do when they steal our money and keep it for themselves. They dream of having total control over the US economy and society. This “Treaty” will give them absolute and unrestricted power to do so. Read for yourself and tell me I am wrong – I am not wrong. They have told me this IS their goal.

    Before someone can claim they are a victim, there first has to be a villain. Countries that are productive are the villains, and AGW/ACC is how those countries have been taking advantage of the victim countries. It is that real and that simple.

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