2011 Global Sea Level Dropped back to 2008 Levels


2011 was an interesting year for the Earth’s oceans.  The relative sea level (RSL) in 2011 was not only lower than 2010, it was also lower than 2009.  All of the different satellite measurements agree with that, but perhaps even more interesting is that the European RSL measurement shows that the sea level in 2011 was even lower than it was back in 2005.  That particular satellite shows that there has been almost no net change in the Earth’s sea level over the past 8 years.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

(Green) Envisat, (Blue) Jason-1, (Brown) Jason-2

All of the different measurements agree that the rate that the sea level is rising is not increasing.  All of them show a steady decrease in the rate of sea level rise.  This is the opposite of what the predictions were a decade ago for global warming.  Of course such predictions are full of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) that is so typical of global warming articles, these include statements that 100 million people will be displaced soon because of sea level rise.

Anyone who thinks the sea levels will rise by 1m by the year 2100 are going to be greatly disappointed by this latest news.  That the sea levels have been generally stable over the past few years while the CO2 levels have been at their highest should give pasue to even the most die hard warmist that perhaps CO2 is not the primary driver of the Earth’s climate.  If I compare the actual, baseline rate and the rate of what would be needed for the sea levels to increase 1m by 2100, it is clear how far off such statements really are.

the Inconvenient Skeptic

For 2011 the actual sea level is already 72mm beheind schedule to reach a 1m rise in sea level by 2100.

As with all the sea level data I need to explain what data I used.  This is because there have been numerous add-ons to how the sea level data is calculated.  The data I used is from the Aviso which shows the sea level for all of the different satellites.  I used the Inverted Barometer data, but kept the seasonal variation and  did not use the glacial isostatic rebound.  That last one is particularly onerous to understanding the sea level trends as it simply adds a trend to the data.

The one step I had to take was match the three sets together which allows a direct comparison of the RSL.  This required an offset of -288.7mm for the Envisat data and a 73.4 mm offset for the Jason-1 data.  This is why the date of 2008.54 shows that all three measurements have a RSL of 201.7mm.  This in no way changes the trends as the offset is applied equally to each measurement point.  This allows a direct comparison of the different sets and also enables me to average the RSL of all three measurement methods.  Since Jason-1 and Jason-2 are essentially the same, I will use the combined Jason satellite data and the Envisat data each as half of the combined RSL.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Relative Sea Level by year

This combined measurement shows that the rate of rise of the Earth’s oceans over the past decade is ~1.6 mm/yr.  This means that the sea level will rise by 1m in the year 2643 which is 631 years in the future.  Since the most commonly used rate of 3.1 mm/yr would still take 300 years to cause a 1m sea level change, they needed the rate to go up to be accurate in their predictions, but instead the rate has decreased to a drop in the sea level.  How the sea level will rise by 1m in the next 88 years if it keeps dropping is something that I have yet to figure out, but I will keep working on that.

All of this points to the simple fact that the predictions about the sea level rise are wildly wrong.  In the past decade the sea level change is only 16% of what is needed to achieve that predicted 1m rise by 2100.  Even worse for the theory of global warming is that the rate is rise is decreasing.  Simply put, the prediction about the sea level change is not going to happen.

Posted in Ocean: Sea Level and SST by inconvenientskeptic on February 14th, 2012 at 10:32 am.

6 comments

This post has 6 comments

  1. michael hart Feb 14th 2012

    Thanks, John, interesting article.
    I always like learning about sea levels because, despite the difficulties of local variations, it still seems like one of the best metrics than can be truly described as “global” and can be measured directly from space.
    These days I am even more inclined to trust measurements that come from satellites, as opposed to less evenly dispersed station measurements that may be extensively, and individually, “adjusted” as temperature measurements seem to be.

    Given what J.Hansen has been quoted as saying recently, and the recent gravimetric satellite survey of Himalayan ice, do you have an opinion about the relative contributions to sea level over the last few years? I have recently read that after considering glacier melt, reservoir filling, ground water depletion etc, that there is almost nothing left to attribute to thermal expansion of the oceans. That is, that “Trenberths missing heat” cannot be hiding in the oceans

  2. John,

    Thanks for your work here – concise and sums up just how far off forecasts have been. The link to the 2002 article on sea-level rise forecasts was a good reminder of the panic-thinking that seems we are hearing less of these days.

  3. Richard Feb 16th 2012

    Also possibly worthy of note is that we are currently at the high point in the annual cycle. For the next 6 months or so the figures are going to look even worse/better.

  4. If one considers that 1910 to 1940 was a warming cycle, followed by the cooling cycle that saw 1979 as the coldest winter in US history and then 1980 to 1998 as the next warming cycle, we are only 12 years into a 35 year cooling cycle.

    Brrr.

  5. Eric Anderson Apr 16th 2012

    Looks like there may be some problems with the Envisat data:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/12/envisats-satellite-failure-launches-mysteries/

  6. inconvenientskeptic Apr 16th 2012

    The data I pulled in early January looked fairly normal, although it was the Envisat that had the lowest readings.

    I will take a look at how the data looks without the Envisat soon.

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