Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Somewhere Else

Somewhere is always warmer than somewhere else.
Somewhere is always colder than somewhere else.
Somewhere is always wetter than somewhere else.
Somewhere is always drier than somewhere else.
Somewhere is always sunnier than somewhere else.
Somewhere is always cloudier than somewhere else.

Somewhere else is where you live.

Right now.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Shifting the truth southward

The Sydney Morning Herald featured an article a few days ago titled Marine life on the move.
The first global snapshot of marine life shifting under climate change has found it is on the move towards the poles at a rate of about seven kilometres a year. Fish and other marine creatures are seeking cooler habitat much faster than terrestrial life, according to an international study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Can't stand the heat, huh? Not exactly - not at all exactly in fact, as the article actually informs us, but right at the end of course, well to the south, where the truth has shifted to, well after the preceding and misleading statements have sunk in.
"The leading edge or 'front line' of a marine species distribution is moving towards the poles at the average rate of 72 kilometres per decade," Dr Poloczanska said. "This is considerably faster than terrestrial species moving poleward at an average of six kilometres per decade . . . despite sea-surface temperatures warming three times slower than land temperatures."
So it's the "leading edge" of species distribution moving poleward, not the entire distribution. In other words, the "trailing edge" is staying where it was, and the species are extending their range. They're not moving away from warmer water "seeking cooler habitat", but extending into previously cooler waters.
Dr Poloczanska, of the University of Queensland, and 18 international colleagues found no doubt about who was responsible for the greenhouse gas-related warming of the ocean's upper layers. "Global responses of marine species revealed here demonstrate a strong fingerprint of this anthropogenic [caused by humans] climate change on marine life," the paper said.
Dr Poloczanska said in Australia's south-east, tropical and subtropical species of fish, molluscs and plankton were shifting much further south through the Tasman Sea.
But they're not "shifting much further south through the Tasman Sea", they're being found further south, as your study actually found, Dr Poloczanska.
A 2010 CSIRO study found that warm surf-zone species such as silver drummer were more abundant, while the range of others such as snapper and rock flathead has increased.
In the Indian Ocean, a southward distribution of seabirds has been detected, as well as a loss of cool-water seaweeds north of Perth.
Several studies in recent years were reported as indicating a "poleward shift" of species, whereas in every case, a closer examination reveals not a shift, but an extension of range. Shifting the truth, to fit an agenda. Good science distorted by a totally misleading summary, and by one of the authors too.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Plagiarism, Lies and Bullshit - Part 2, the "Straw Man" exposed

In Part 1 I summarised results for 85 australian stations over the period 1990-2010, which the authors of "Present-to-future sea level changes: The Australian case" appear to think comprises 20 years.

For anyone who thinks I'm just moaning about a few "little mistakes" that Mörner & Parker have made (it's actually written by Mörner alone, as I'll explain later), I'll state what I've found in this "paper" - all that's in my post title. Mörner lies about his results; not selective reporting or creative statistics, simple straightforward lies. Lies that are very easy to disprove; anyone with access to the internet and with no knowledge of statistics is able so see they're lies. Disinformation, and its partner in crime, unadulterated bullshit, is present throughout, like some constant and annoying in-store muzak. The whole point of this rotten pamphlet is to attack a "straw man", aided and abetted by blatant plagiarism.

Anyone perpetrating a fraud, the representation of fiction as truth, cannot maintain a consistent story without inadvertently revealing apparently small but significant contradictions and disconnects; this "paper" contains many such. I will detail some of the most obvious, which seem to have escaped the notice of surprisingly un-sceptical and credulous "sceptics", both bloggers and comment posters who would delight in tearing apart any paper or blog post from those on "the other side" which contained so little in the way of actual results. This paper contains not even one, so I'll provide them in a full analysis of the entire 86 (actually 85) stations which Mörner and Parker claim to have analysed over the 21 years 1990-2010, which they appear to believe spans 20 years.

There's clear confusion throughout as to what constitutes periods of 10 and 20 years - a kind of "date dyslexia". The date ranges which are claimed to have been analysed are given as 1990-2010, 1990-2000, and 2000-2010. These are periods of 21, 11, and 11 years respectively, though the text mentions "20 years", "the last 10 or 20 years", the introduction "the last two decades", and the caption for the only chart included says "for the last 10 and 20 years". The short ranges are not consecutive; they overlap at 2000. With such confusion evident, one might ask exactly which periods were supposed to have been analysed - were they analysed?

Exaggeration - but by whom?

First, I'll rebut the the accusation of "exaggeration" in the "official Australian governmental value" of 5.4 mm/year. You won't find that figure anywhere but in this paper, or in blog posts discussing it. Google it if you will. It's a simple average of the individual ABSLMP station trends to June 2011 which were tabled in an ABSLMP report (June 2011, published Sept. 2011, no overall average included), and as such cannot be "exaggerated". It may not be exactly relevant to the long-term sea-level change around Australia, but that's another matter entirely, one which I'll cover later.

Two stations in South Australia are uniquely close to one another; Port Adelaide and Port Stanvac (an ABSLMP station) are just 20 km apart. The latter was dismantled after Dec. 2010, when the adjacent oil refinery was closed and decommissioned. Their records, over the period of overlap, differ by an average of 190mm, due to different "tide-gauge zero" benchmarks in use. All tide-gauges have local benchmarks; the gauge readings are not absolute but relative to the local benchmark. Across Gulf St. Vincent, about 60 km to the west is Port Giles, though you won't find it on any map; it's a jetty and a few buildings. Its gauge record differs from Port Stanvac by some 50 mm. Using the Port Stanvac ABSLMP record (from June 1992 to Nov, 2010) as a baseline, I've plotted the adjusted record from Port Adelaide (Jan 1990 to Dec 2010) on the same chart. I repeated this for the shorter Port Giles record, Sept. 1994 to Dec. 2010.

The degree of overlap and correlation is remarkable, I'd say, much better than I'd expected. Two things are evident - that the ABSLMP station very closely reflects sea-level at the two other Gulf stations, and that the rate for Adelaide greatly exceeds the long-term rate of about 2.3 mm/year. I say "about", because an NTC report gives it as 2.2 mm/year to 2009 (more , much more, later), and the latest data to 2012 gives 2.35 mm/year; here's the chart.

Three things are evident; the moving average shows sea-level at Port Adelaide rose only a little between 1965 and 1990, there was a dip to about 1996, and after that rose more sharply than the overall trend. That's a general profile for most Australian stations, though to a greater degree for many, and to a far lesser degree for some. The rate for the 1990-2010 period for Port Adelaide is not much greater than the average for all stations, as you'll see. Here's the chart fo Fremantle, WA to 2012. The profile 1940 to 2012 is almost identical; it's the Australian story over that period, and both charts blow the "no acceleration" meme apart. The acceleration isn't due to melting glaciers or AGW in general, it's simply returning Oz sea-levels to above "normal" after decades of ENSO-induced variations, including the early-mid 1990s "dip", the result of two El Ninos; 1991-2 and 1994-5.

Much greater distances separate Wyndham, Western Australia, from Broome (ABSLMP), and from Darwin, Northern Territory (also ABSLMP); about 500 and 800 km respectively, I'd say. I've repeated the exercise for these three stations - the necessary adjustments are shown on the charts.

It's said a picture's worth a thousand words; a well-chosen moving average is worth any number of "2nd. degree polynomials", because it focusses on what's been (and is) going on.

It's now clear where the "exaggeration" originates - Mörner & Parker, henceforth referred to as "M&P". It's also clear that their claim of "No fitting produces a sea level rise in excess of 1.5 mm/year" (which would have to include these three stations) is totally demolished (although they do that rather well themselves - more later!). Of course, as the 3rd. Viscount Monckton of Brenchley might say (and has done, many times) "Don't believe a word I say" - check for yourselves; I provide NTC and PSMSL links for all stations I've analysed. His instruction also applies to M&P of course - why do so many otherwise (apparently) intelligent people believe everything they say without checking anything? Do they (particularly Mörner), have some sort of "free pass", which makes what they say and write immune from scrutiny? Isn't that kind of chauvinism both unscientific and un-sceptical, in short, partisan, exactly what sceptics criticise "the other side" for? Surprisingly, the noble lord is a great fan of Mörner's; perhaps he should pay more attention to what he instructs others to do, and be a little more sceptical himself. Rant put on hold - now for some more real data.

The actual and factual analysis

A number of stations have so little data for the relevant period they don't bear any analysis. One station has its record duplicated on the NTC page for Queensland. Strange therefore that these inconvenient facts weren't mentioned. Neither mentioned is that the remaining 85 stations include 6 which are thousands of km away from Australia; one is halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica, 4 are on the Antarctic coast, and one (Cocos Islands) is best described as being half-way between Darwin and Sri Lanka, in the Indian Ocean, and closer to the Maldives than Darwin. Relevant? Of course not.

My analysis in Part 1 is open, comprehensive, detailed and checkable, but does it prove anything about future trends in sea-levels around Australia? No, it does not; the period 1990-2010 starts at a low point in the record. M&P missed that, but it should, and would, have been obvious to anyone who'd charted the data and added meaningful moving averages. Sea-levels generally declined between the 1960s and 1993-4; any trends calculated from the early 1990s to present reflect the ENSO-driven rebound from that low period. Over the next 5-10 years, both the decline and sharper recent rise will "average out" as the record lengthens. There has indeed been an acceleration in rates in the last two decades; anyone who claims otherwise is being disingenuous at best. Anyone who claims that this unrepresentative period "proves" that the acceleration is caused by anything other than ENSO-induced change superimposed over a relatively constant underlying trend is being more than disingenuous.

In a recent post, I showed the correlation between the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and sea-level at two Australian, and several Pacific island stations; I could have cited a number of other examples, both from Australia and Pacific islands. I even attempted to remove the ENSO effect, and succeeded IMHO. At least all the "lumps and bumps" (and dips) were evened out. ENSO is the "big player" in the Pacific - underlying rates of rise are swamped by the ENSO signal. Anyone who ignores ENSO (as measured by the SOI) are fated to draw entirely wrong conclusions about what has been happening, or is happening, or will happen wrt sea-levels in the Pacific in general and around Australia in particular, in the context of this and my last post.

If I seem to be "going on a bit" about ENSO, and "over-egging the pudding", I don't apologise - it's important, very important in this context, and not just a few dips and bumps in the records.

Major disconnects in M&P's "results*

Here's the list of claimed analyses and results for Australian stations:

70 "non-ABSLMP" stations 1990-2010, linear trends: average 0.1 mm year
2nd. degree polynomials for same: none
70 "non-ABSLMP" stations 1990-2000 linear trends: none
2nd. degree polynomials for same: none
70 "non-ABSLMP" stations 2000-2010: none
2nd. degree polynomials for same: none
16 ABSLMP stations 1990-2010 linear trends: none
2nd. degree polynomials for same: none
All 86 stations 1990-2010, linear trends: average 1.5 mm year
and "No fitting produces a sea level rise in excess of 1.5 mm/year".

Now if 86 stations produce an average of 1.5 mm/ year, and 70 stations an average of 0.1 mm/year, it should be clear the 16 ABSLMP stations must have contributed rather a lot to the average; they comprise only 19% of the total. To boost the average from 0.1 to 1.5 they must have averaged very much more than 1.5. Remember "No fitting produces a sea level rise in excess of 1.5 mm/year"? That average is central to M&P's claims, yet we're not informed what it was? However, it's easy to work out the missing value for the 16 ABSLMP stations:

86 x 1.5 gives a cumulative total of 129; the 70 stations give a cumulative total of 7, so the 16 stations contributed 122, giving an average of 7.625 mm/year. The apparently "exaggerated" NTC average quoted was just 5.4 mm/year - where does the 7.625 figure come from? I thought "No fitting produces a sea level rise in excess of 1.5 mm/year"? Both station averages are fiction - the ABSLMP average to 2010 (from the NTC 2010 December report) is 4.9 m/year, and if that were used, the 70 stations would have an average of (129 - 78.4)/70 or 0.72 mm/year. In the Discussion section, Morner says
From this comparison it seems obvious to us that the Australian governmental value of 5.4 mm/year must be significantly exaggerated. The Australian data analysed by us provide a range from 0.1 to 1.5 mm/year. The same over-estimation seems to apply for individual sites when comparing our values from Darwin (their 8.6 versus our 2.2 mm/year) and from Stony Point (their 2.6 versus our -2.1 mm/year).
So the "Australian governmental" value is "exaggerated" at 5.4 mm/year, but his average figure is 7.6? I remind you that my properly derived average is 4.35 mm/year - that doesn't mean that the NTC figure is incorrect, as their trends were calculated to June 2011, rather than to Dec. 2010, start in various years from 1990 to 1993, and have a residual of a half-year of the annual cycle. Mine were calculated over the full 1990-2010 period, and so include earlier data for the 14 gauges which replaced existing installations.

And do we get some actual results at last? No we don't - the "comparisons" are sleight-of-hand - smoke and mirrors. "Their" figures for Darwin and Stony Point are for the entire length of record, not 1990-2010, and it's worth while pointing out that longer-term records for the 14 of the 16 stations contain ABSLMP data - the gauges were replaced. The other two are all ABSLMP data, so there can be no difference there either. The NTC simply extended the 14 stations with data from the new gauges.

Links to sea-level data for all charts can be found on the NTC data page.

I'll update this post with charts for Darwin and Stony Point, and direct links to data later - I wanted to get some actual charts displayed, to confirm that the "exaggeration" claim was false, and that the "No fitting produces a sea level rise in excess of 1.5 mm/year" was also false. Watch this space

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Plagiarism, Lies and Bullshit - Part 1

Back in April this year, Anthony Watts gave prominence to a "paper" by Nils-Axel Mörner & A. Parker - Australian sea level data highly exaggerated, only 5 inches by 2100. It's clear that neither he, nor any of the commenters on that post actually appear to have read the "paper", or if they did didn't do so with a critical or sceptical eye. Are they all sceptics in the general sense, or not? I'm an AGW sceptic, and I'm also a sceptic in the general sense - I believe nothing I read until I've checked out its conclusions, claims, methodology, and sources in detail. I've done all those checks on the "paper" (I use inverted commas deliberately), and have found all that this post's title implies. The "paper" is titled "Present-to-future sea level changes: The Australian case", and can be found here.

Mörner & Parker claim that the Australian government, aided and abetted by Australia's National Tidal Centre. a branch of the Bureau of Meteorology, have adopted an "exaggerated" figure for recent sea-level rise as "official". None of their cited sources contain the figure, nor statements of recent acceleration as claimed  - it's a "straw man". Indeed, the NTC takes pains to stress the short-term nature of the trends reported for its 16 SEAFRAME stations managed by their Australian Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Programme (ABSLMP), and warns against placing reliance on the data at present. There's a term which describes making unsupported claims, as M&P have done here, especially when the cited sources actually say just the opposite.

Astonishingly, this "paper" contains no data whatsoever to support its "conclusions". Despite having claimed to analyse "86 stations", there is no list of any stations analysed, no tables of results and just one chart for Fremantle, which in fact neatly refutes one of the claimed results (and more besides). Several "analyses" are claimed to have been carried out, but aren't mentioned again, and so no results or summaries are given. Not a single station trend for any relevant period is quoted.

Even more astonishing is not even a list of the 16 "ABSLMP" (Australian Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Programme) stations, which are supposedly central to the "paper" is given. The reader is left in the dark; reproducibility, a central requirement of published papers, would be impossible without a deal of research on the part of anyone attempting the process. I'm not in that position however - I've been studying all aspects of Australian sea-levels in some depth over recent years. Because of that knowledge, and the spreadsheets and charts to hand, I knew instantly that the claimed summary results were fiction. How much of a fiction will be seen below. The author(s) appear to believe that 1990-2010 spans 20 years, a figure they mention several times.

This is their claimed methodology:
We fit linear and 2nd order polynomial lines to the sea level data recorded along the coasts of Australia in order to assess the accelerating trends and to compare with the reconstruction of Church and White[12]. 
If Y is the mean sea level (MSL) and X is the year, then clearly the sea level rise is SLR=dY/dX and the sea level acceleration is SLA=d2Y/dX2. The linear fitting gives the average SLR over the observation period. The 2nd order polynomial fitting gives the average SLA over the observation period.
There's no further mention of  any "2nd order polynomials" at all. "The 2nd order polynomial fitting gives the average SLA over the observation period." - no it doesn't, it gives the equation for a curve.

What about "rebutting" several prominent authors on sea-level rise?

Out of this highly variable spectrum, Douglas [16] selected 25 records and arrived at a mean sea level rise of 1.8 mm/year, Church et al. [11] selected 6 records and arrived at a value of 1.4 mm/year, and Holgate [20] selected 9 records and arrived at 1.45 mm/year.

The word "selected" is meant to infer some kind of "cherry-picking". However, two of the three cases, you won't find the claimed figures for number of stations "selected", and in none  the claimed statistic. Comparing Australian data to global data puts it in context, and no more.

Douglas didn't "select" anything. There were only 23 (not 25) long-term stations available to analyse, and his result was global. Douglas didn't estimate a figure for overall sea-level rise. Peltier (2001) used Douglas's data, corrected for GIA, and came up with 1.84 mm/year.

Church & White (hardly "et al." at all) used 290 stations, and don't mention a set of 6 stations in any context. You'll search in vain for the "1.4" figure, their figure is 1.7 ± 0.3 mm/year.

Amazingly enough, Holgate did actually select 9 stations for analysis; his intention was to test whether a small set of high-quality, continuous (no gaps) records to "composites" of many sets of world-wide gauge data of varying lenght and quality. His estimate was 1.74 ± 0.16 mm/year, and not 1.45.

Here's a list of claimed analyses, and results given for the Australian stations:

70 "non-ABSLMP" stations 1990-2010, linear trends: average 0.1 mm year
2nd. degree polynomials for same: none
70 "non-ABSLMP" stations 1990-2000 linear trends: none
2nd. degree polynomials for same: none
70 "non-ABSLMP" stations 2000-2010: none
2nd. degree polynomials for same: none
16 ABSLMP stations 1990-2010 linear trends: none
2nd. degree polynomials for same: none
All 86 stations 1990-2010, linear trends: average 1.5 mm/year
and "No fitting produces a sea level rise in excess of 1.5 mm/year".

Those last two claims alone demonstrate that the "results" aren't results at all. - they're fabricated. If the average of the 86 is 1.5 mm/year, then some must have been lower, and some higher, but we're told none was higher than 1.5 mm/year. Therefore they must have all been identical at 1.5 mm/year, yet we're told that 70 of the 86 averaged 0.1 mm/year. Also, of the 70 stations that averaged 0.1 mm/year, some must have been higher, and some lower, with many negative. Now that would have been remarkable, in the scientific sense - news to broadcast. M&P haven't even realised the implications of their laughable "statistics".

Check out that last claim against my analysis of the "86 stations" - actually 85. Six stations are so remote from Australia they aren't relevant at all - thousands of km away. I've included them however, to get overall statistics to compare. I've started my list beginning on the north Queensland coast in the Gulf of Carpentaria, progressing clockwise via Tasmania to Milner Bay, Northern Territory, which is also on the Gulf, ending with the remote and decidedly non-Australian stations.

Station 32 is Sydney, which we're told had a "negative trend", though we aren't informed what it was -  details later.

Stations  65-79 are on the W and NW coasts; 66 is Fremantle, 77 is Darwin. 80-85 are "off the map" and very distant. Spaces on the charts indicate that no meaningful analysis for those stations was possible because of very limited data for the period. There were no zero trends, and none was negative.

Full station details are shown in the table at the end of this post.

The average for all stations is 4.05 mm/year, with standard deviation 2.51, minimum 0.17 mm/year, maximum 9.38 mm/year. The average for the 16 ABSLMP stations is 4.35 mm/year (not quoted by M&P, though central to their theme), and that for "non-ABSLMP" stations is 3.90 mm/year. Contrast those figures with the claims of M&B-P, 0.1 mm/year for the "non-ABSLMP" stations, and 1.5 mm/year overall.

There's a claim that the trend fo Sydney was negative over this period, but In fact it's positive over 1990-2010, and more positive over the actual 20 years 1991-2010. Here's the proof, with both trends:

Trends for Sydney, 1990-2010 and 1991-2010                                            Data Source: NTC
Strangely no trend figure is given for one of the most analysed stations worldwide, though perhaps not so strange because it must by now be clear that M&P haven't analysed any Australian stations over "20 years", nor over 21 years either. I intend to keep this post reasonably short and to the point, but what about the "plagiarism" and "bullshit"? Disinformation, and its partner in crime, unadulterated bullshit, is present throughout, like some constant and annoying in-store muzak. Here's a glaring (and hilarious) example:
The sea level changes along the Australian coastline have been measured at many locations starting in the late 1800s. In the early 1990s, the Australian Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Project was designed in order to monitor the sea level changes around Australia and to identify decadal trends with respect to the enhanced greenhouse effect. A sequence of SEAFRAME[36] stations (SEA-Level Fine Resolution Acoustic Measuring Equipment) was installed on 16 South Pacific islands to measure the sea level and to record meteorological parameters (both at stations previously covered by standard tide gauge equipment and stations previously not covered by tide gauges). The vertical stability of the gauges is surveyed by State organizations using GPS.
That's novel, installing tide-gauges on Pacific Islands to measure sea-level around Australia. This gives "telemetry" a whole new meaning. I'll poke around in some more ordure in Part 2 which will follow very shortly.  What about plagiarism? surely not? On page 3 is stated (my bold):
Previously , the National Tide [sic] Centre analyzed all tide gauge data from stations having more than 25 years of recording. This survey ended in year 2003, and was replaced by the ABSLMP data set containing the measurements restricted to the 16 ABSLMP stations. Nowadays, NTC neglects all the data previously measured at these stations as well as at other sites, many of which exceed 25, and sometimes 50, years of recording.
The NTC replaced the National Tidal Facility of Australia (NTFA ) in January 2004. Why is he scolding the NTC for ceasing the issue of reports at all? Why is he bemoaning the loss of reports with linear trends? Trends which he says are "misleading"? His charge against the NTC is that they produced a "misleading statistic" concerning the ABSLMP stations. They did not, and would not have done, as I'll explain later - his citations are fake - they don't contain what he claims, nor anything remotely resembling what he claims.

The reason for his charge of "neglect" will soon be clear. Figure 1 in the "paper", is said to represent the full-record rates for 39 stations with "long-term" (25 years or more) of data in 2009. If data was available to end 2010, you might ask as I did, why quote the number of such stations for 2009 if you had data for "all stations" to 2010? Also why analyse that data to 2009 - a long-term station in 2009 is also a long-term station in 2010. "many of which exceed 25, and sometimes 50, years of recording" - doesn't he know how many in each category? In fact it's most, not many which exceed 25 years in 2010, and it's just two which exceeded 50 years - Fremantle and Sydney.

Here's Figure 1, with the legend "AUSTRALIA" in large friendly letters, in case anyone might be unable to identify what it represents.

There's already a problem - Mörner&Parker (Parker is actually Alberto Boretti, more in Part 2) couldn't have analysed the 39 stations on that map; one of them (Port Adelaide Inner Harbour) ceased operation after 2008, and since the data was virtually identical to Port Adelaide Outer Harbour (hardly surprising!) the NTC pulled the record from the data webpage in 2010, well before M&P say they accessed the data. How do I know that the station is represented on the map? Is my knowledge of Oz stations encyclopaedic? Yes and no, it's extensive (ahem!), but I know exactly which stations that map shows, because as it happens, I have a copy of the map myself, a nice crisp and unfuzzy one, along with a table of station results, in a July 2010 report produced by the NTC. It's a report which M&P (or just Mörner?) took pains to claim (above) wasn't produced after 2003, and is titled "Australian Mean Sea Level Survey 2009"; the graphic is on page 8:

Note the caption - Mörner's map is captioned
Figure 1 : Distribution of tide gauge station [sic] in Australia. Location and average rates of the 39 tide gauge stations in mainland Australia having a period of recording of at least 25 years. The mean rate of all 39 stations is 0.9 mm/year.
That caption implies by omission that the 39 figure is the most recent, though it applies to 2009 only, as the text states. Ignoring the fact that "mainland Australia" on the map includes three islands (Tasmania's hard to miss, and the names "Booby Island" and "Lord Howe Island" are a bit of a give-away). Mörner's graphic is fuzzy, with degraded colours and showing all the signs of having been taken from a screenprint, with aliasing artefacts in the image. I'll compare sentences (in sequence) from the two paragraphs preceding Mörner's map (M&P) with bulleted points from page 1 of the NTC report (NTC) reproduced below. You'll note from the page shown below that the sequence of statements is identical:
M&P:  In 2009, there were 39 sites on the Australian mainland (Figure 1), where relative sea levels had been measured for at least 25 years and with the average length being 42 years .
 NTC:  There are 39 Australian locations where relative sea levels have been measured for at least 25 years. The average length of these records is 42 years.

M&P:  The average trend of all the 39 stations is 0.9 ±1.9 mm/year.
NTC:  The average trend from all 39 stations is 0.9 mm/yr with a standard deviation of 1.9 mm/yr.

Following that statement, the NTC report says
Some of the stations exhibit unrealistic trends due to undocumented datum shifts. A more realistic average trend obtained from 29 stations within 1 standard deviation of the mean is 1.4 mm/yr with a standard deviation of 0.7 mm/yr.
Mörner missed  that bit out. I wonder why?

M&P:  The geographical pattern of relative sea level trends around the Australian coastline is fairly uniform (Figure1).
NTC:  The geographical pattern of relative sea level trends around the Australian coastline is fairly uniform in general.

M&P:  Parts of the Australian coastline are strongly affected by the ENSO events.
The longest sea level records show quasi bi-decadal sea-level oscillations.
NTC:  Annual mean sea levels around the Australian coastline are strongly correlated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) signal. Annual mean sea levels generally fluctuate in accordance with the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI).
The longest sea level records show decadal sea-level oscillations with periods of around 20 years.

NTC: The Australian Mean Sea Level Survey is updated annually.

There's nothing wrong of course, with using graphics, nor quoting text, from someone else's publication(s), if citations are given. In this case however, Mörner has not only failed to cite the source, he's explicitly said it doesn't exist! There's only one word for that - plagiarism, compounded by a blatant lie to cover his tracks. He's simply pinched the summary stats from the NTC report to 2009, including the standard deviation. None of the other claimed results include a standard deviation. Plagiarism is intellectual theft, and when blatant lies are added, the result is fraud.

Would a "sea level expert" really need to lift almost an entire page from a NTC report? From an organisation he's criticising? The hypocrisy is staggering! Not only that, but the number of long-term stations, and the statistics themselves, which apply to the period to 2009, and aren't exactly relevant here. Data was available to 2010, so why not do the trends and quote results to 2010? Mörner claims to have analysed 86 stations to 2010, so the spreadsheets should have been available. I say "claims", because there's not one scrap of evidence any such analyses were done, in fact just the opposite.

In a "paper" which claims to have analysed "all 86" Australian stations, 39 overall and 86 over the last two decades to 2010, amounting to some 297 trend analyses and 258 polynomial fittings, you'd expect several tables, a few sample charts, even a list of stations at the very least, wouldn't you? They're supposed to be there to inform the reader, summarise the results, and not least to show evidence that the work's been done, and that the summary results are valid. The sum total is one long-term chart for Fremantle, and a rather small bunch of totally unsupported statements. Statements which don't in fact  reconcile. And this heap of crap was given prominence on WUWT, of which a commenter there recently said "Everyone knows nobody gets away with bad science or math here".

Why on earth try it on to this extent? Mörner's relying on his target audience being uncritical and chauvinistic, generally ill-informed about sea-level in general, Australia in particular, and he's also confident that not one of them will check on anything he writes. None of those characteristics apply to yours truly. I've found evidence that Boretti-Parker is not an honourable man either, inclined to bend truth into fiction. He (as Boretti) is listed on the Principia Scientific website as a contributor - it's the lair of the "Sky-dragon slayers". Enough said, I think.

There are other claims in the "paper" - it might have been sub-titled "This paper is bought to you by the number 1.5", including a ludicrous claim to have analysed "all 2059 PSMSL stations". I'll shred that in Part 2. What's really ironic is that along the the Pacific coast of N & S America, tide-gauges do indeed show very low rates of rise, even a fall over recent decades, something Mörner denies. That's a strange contradiction, as he also denies any increase in global sea-levels. Unfortunately, no-one informed all the other tide-gauges worldwide of this "great truth"; for them it's "business as usual".

The M&P "paper" isn't just bad science - it's a total lack of science backed up by no data whatsoever - science fiction. The clues, in the form of "bad math", inconsistencies and disconnects are evident to anyone with a critical and sceptical eye. Those on WUWT, posters and commenters, who uncritically accepted a "paper" so thin you can read small print through it, need to re-examine their critical and sceptical faculties and motives.

Part 2, in which I turn over the ordure with a long stick, and explode more Mörner myths, coming very soon.


NTC data for all stations here, and PSMSL data and charts here - search the page for Darwin; stations are listed clockwise from there. Values are mm/year.

Averages for all stations, clockwise

1 Mornington Island, QLD Insufficient data 8.61
2 Karumba 7.94 7.94
3 Weipa 6.92 7.43
4 Booby Island 6.25 7.04
5 Goods Island 7.67 7.20
6 Thursday Island 2.00 6.16
7 Turtle Head 6.96 6.29
8 Ince Point 8.20 6.56
9 Port Douglas 3.85 6.22
10 Cairns 1.83 5.74
11 Mourilyan Harbour 1.40 5.30
12 Lucinda 3.11 5.10
13 Townsville 2.63 4.90
14 Cape Ferguson * 2.78 4.73
15 Abbot Point Insufficient data 11.7
16 Bowen 2.29 4.56
17 Shute Harbour 2.33 4.41
18 Mackay 2.08 4.27
19 Hay Point 1.24 4.09
20 Rosslyn Bay * 3.36 4.05
21 Port Alma 1.60 3.92
22 Gladstone 1.43 3.79
23 Bundaberg 0.94 3.66
24 Urangan 0.28 3.50
25 Mooloolaba 1.52 3.41
26 Brisbane 3.19 3.41
27 Gold Coast Seaway 3.22 3.40
28 Norfolk Island, NSW 7.04 3.54
29 Yamba 0.93 3.44
30 Lord Howe Island 3.41 3.44
31 Newcastle 1.66 3.38
32 Sydney 1.25 3.31
33 Botany Bay 2.45 3.28
34 Port Kembla * 1.6 3.23
35 Eden 1.23 3.17
36 Stony Point, VIC * 1.71 3.13
37 Lakes Entrance Insufficient data
38 Hovell Pile 5.31 3.19
39 Melbourne 2.38 3.17
40 Point Richards Channel Insufficient data 5.14
41 Geelong 2.29 3.14
42 Point Lonsdale 0.35 3.07
43 Port Welshpool Insufficient data
44 Queenscliff 2.93 3.07
45 West Channel Pile 2.30 3.05
46 Lorne * 2.46 3.03
47 Portland * 2.84 3.03
48 Devonport, TAS Insufficient data
49 Low Head Insufficient data
50 Spring Bay * 3.11 3.03
51 Hobart 0.17 2.96
52 Granville Harbour Insufficient data
53 Burnie * 2.98 2.97
54 Victor Harbor, SA 2.02 2.94
55 Port Stanvac * 4.52 2.98
56 Port Adelaide 5.08 3.02
57 Port Giles 4.40 3.05
58 Wallaroo 2.53 3.04
59 Port Pirie 6.96 3.12
60 Whyalla 0.59 3.07
61 Port Lincoln 3.34 3.07
62 Thevenard * 3.34 3.08
63 Esperance, WA * 4.10 3.10
64 Albany 4.50 3.12
65 Bunbury 3.47 3.13
66 Fremantle 5.27 3.16
67 Hillarys * 7.84 3.24
68 Geraldton 6.12 3.29
69 Carnarvon 5.69 3.33
70 Exmouth 6.42 3.38
71 Onslow 6.93 3.44
72 King Bay 6.83 3.49
73 Cape Lambert 7.43 3.55
74 Port Hedland 8.12 3.62
75 Broome * 9.32 3.71
76 Wyndham 9.38 3.79
77 Darwin, NT * 7.78 3.85
78 Gove Harbour 5.69 3.87
79 Milner Bay * 7.54 3.92
80 Cocos Islands * 7.86 3.98
81 Macquarie Island 6.84 4.02
82 Casey, ANT 6.22 4.05
83 Commonwealth Bay Insufficient data
84 Davis 2.29 4.02
85 Mawson 5.59 4.05
All stations average 4.05
ABSLMP average 4.35
Other stations average 3.90
Standard deviation 2.51
Minimum 0.17
Maximim 9.38

Friday, 2 August 2013

The effect of ENSO on sea-level in the South-western Pacific and Australia

In a previous post, I explored the connection between ENSO ((El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation) and sea-levels at Darwin and Fremantle on the west coast of Australia, in particular, the remarkably close correlation between smoothed monthly average levels and a smoothed, trended multiple of the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index).

It had already occurred to me that if the correlation was so convincing, that perhaps it might be possible to adjust monthly average data by the multiple of SOI to remove its effect and reveal the underlying pattern and trend of sea-level change at such strongly-affected locations. First attempts showed that the tenfold multiple I'd used to show correlation was too high, and that a multiple of 7 was "just right" for ENSO adjustment. Lower multipliers didn't reduce the variability ("lumpiness") sufficiently, and too high a value increased variability in the opposite direction. Lucky 7 turned out to be the "Goldilocks" factor. Here's my revised chart for Darwin:

... and with 7 times SOI subtracted from monthly values

The revised chart for Fremantle for the same period

... and with 7 times SOI subtracted from monthly values

Those two removals are quite convincing, I'd say - "extreme ironing" indeed. Note that the trends for both removals are slightly higher than the originals, despite the post-1990s upticks having been removed. It's because the earlier trend from the mid-1970s was down, which effectively pulled the trend-lines down.

High rates of rise in the western Pacific (as shown by satellite sea-level maps) have been a thorn in the side of some sceptics for some time. They conveniently ignore the fact that sea-levels along the Pacific coasts of the Americas show low or negative rates on the maps, supported by tide-gauge data, and that the high rates in the west are also supported by tide-gauge data, when exactly the same time-spans as the satellite maps are compared. They also ignore the reasoned, researched and informed voices which explain that both phenomena are effects of ENSO.

The island of Pohnpei (Federated States of Micronesia) is in that western "hotspot", and using PSMSL data for the two tide-gauges covering the period I've been able to recreate the record from 1974-2012.

The "ENSO profile" being clear, I went ahead and adjusted the monthly data as before.

Majuro atoll is in the Marshall Islands group, and I've extended my previous reconstruction to end 2012, and added the SOI plot. Note that sea-level is lagging SOI on the extreme right.

Kwajelein is also in the Marshall Islands, not that far from Majuro. Sea level is clearly leading SOI on the right.

The uptick is the subject of a couple of recent posts on wattsupwiththat.com, ENSO not being very high on the list of possible reasons under discussion. Nils-Axel Mörner thinks it's due to subsidence because of recent building, but then he would, he doesn't understand ENSO and the magnitude of its effects. Here's the latest data to June 2013 for Majuro from the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project.

As you can see, the uptick has now reversed, following the SOI back to zero.

Pago Pago, American Samoa, shows a less-satisfactory correlation overall, but it's still reasonably convincing. It also shows  the sharp recent uptick.

I've had a look at correlation on the eastern side in California, but it's less clear. California is well north of the equator, and ENSO is the Southern Oscillation after all. I'll see if I can find an SOI widget (or make one) for my sidebar. I'll add captions with source data links very soon.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A dash for wood and wind - two medieval technologies, and "picking losers"

My headline is quoting Matthew White Ridley, 5th Viscount Ridley, FRSL, FMedSci, DL, better known to us proles as Matt Ridley, author of "The Rational Optimist" and other worthy reads. Greenie Watch has posted a speech he made in the House of Lords on 18th inst. I disagree with John Ray, the brain and fingers behind Greenie Watch, on a few topics, but I'm mostly in either agreement or sympathy with his sentiments. On this occasion, he has chosen not to comment on the speech, and I follow his lead; any comment is superfluous.

Viscount Ridley: My Lords, I begin by declaring an interest in coal-mining on my family’s property, as detailed in the register, but I shall not be arguing for coal today but for its most prominent rival, gas, in which I have no interest.

I thank my noble friend the Minister for her courtesy in discussing the Bill and welcome the fact that the Government have grasped the nettle of energy policy, especially on the issue of nuclear power, after the deplorable vacuum left by the previous Government. However, I am concerned that we are being asked in the Bill to spend £200 billion, mainly on the wrong technologies, and that we will come to regret that. We are being asked to put in place a system that will guarantee far into the future rich rewards for landowners and capitalists, while eventually doubling the price of electricity and asking people to replace gas with electric space heating. That can only drive more people into fuel poverty.

We have heard a lot about the needs of energy investors and producers. We have not heard enough about consumers. If the industry gets an 8% return on the £200 billion to be spent, just two offshore wind farms or one nuclear plant would be declaring profits similar to what British Gas declares today. That will be an uncomfortable position for the Government of the day.

The Bill is a dash for wood and wind—two medieval technologies—and it is twice as big as the dash for gas of the 1990s. Between 6 and 9 gigawatts will have to be built a year for the next 16 years, compared with 2 gigawatts a year during the dash for gas. I am not sure it can be done, let alone affordably. In the case of biomass, the only way we can source enough is by felling trees overseas. As the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, said, Drax will soon be taking more than 40 trains a day of wood pellets from North America. That is not energy security.

Under the Bill,
“‘low carbon electricity generation’ means electricity generation which in the opinion of the Secretary of State will contribute to a reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases”.
Shades of Humpty Dumpty: a word means just what I choose it to mean. We are being asked to pretend that the most carbon rich fuel of all, wood, is not a source of carbon. According to Princeton University, trees used for biomass electricity generation increase carbon dioxide emissions by 79% compared with coal over 20 years and by 49% over 40 years, even if you replant the forest. We are through the looking glass.

Offshore wind, meanwhile, is a risky technology with a track record of engineering problems, sky- high costs, disappointing lifespan and problems of decommissioning. At the moment, we generate less than 1% of total energy, or 6% of electricity, from wind, despite all the damage it has already done to our countryside and economy. We are to increase that to something like 30% in just a decade or so, may be more if nuclear is delayed. It is a huge gamble, and if it fails, the only fallback is carbon capture and storage, a technology that has repeatedly failed to meet its promises at all, let alone affordably, a point made earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell.

Even if this wood and wind dash is possible, under the contract for a different system proposed in this Bill, while better than the renewable obligations that preceded it, the subsidy to renewable energy will quadruple by 2020. That is only the start. On top of that, there are system costs for balancing the unpredictability of wind; transmission costs for getting wind from remote areas to where it is needed; VAT; the carbon floor price; not to mention the cost of subsiding renewable heat and renewable transport fuels. Hence, at a conservative estimate, the Renewable Energy Foundation thinks that we will be imposing costs of £16 billion a year on our hard-pressed economy for several decades.

Why are we doing this? We are doing this because of four assumptions that were valid in 2010 but, as my noble friend Lord Lawson pointed out, are no longer valid to the same extent. First, we assumed we would not be acting alone, so we would not damage our competitiveness. Instead, not only is there no longer a Kyoto treaty, but China is planning to build 363 coal- fired power stations; India 455. On top of that, the European trading system has collapsed to less than €5 a tonne of carbon. Our carbon floor price is more than three times that: £16 a tonne, rising to £32 a tonne in 2020 and £76 a tonne in 2030. Acting unilaterally in this way does not save carbon emissions. It merely exports them and the jobs go with them. Northumberland’s largest employer, the aluminium smelter at Lynemouth, has closed with the loss of 500 jobs, almost entirely because of carbon policies.

The second assumption behind the Bill was that the cost of gas would rise, thus making the cost of energy rise anyway. The Committee on Climate Change said recently in a report that:
“Consensus projections are that gas prices will rise in future”.
This remark has been described by the utilities team at Liberum Capital as “genuinely amazing” in the light of recent events. Now that we know that gas prices have plummeted in the United States to roughly one-quarter of ours, thanks to shale gas; now that we know that Britain probably has many decades worth of shale gas itself; now that we know that enormous reserves of offshore gas near Israel, Brazil and parts of Africa are going to come on line in years to come; now that we know that conventional gas producers such as Russia and Qatar are facing increasing competition from unconventional and offshore gas; now that we know that methane hydrates on the ocean floor are more abundant than all other fossil fuels put together and that the Japanese are planning to explore them; in short, now that we know we are nowhere near peak gas, it is surely folly to hold our economy hostage to an assumption that gas prices must rise.

We will need the gas anyway. The intermittent nature of wind means that we will require increasing back-up and we cannot get it from nuclear because it is not responsive enough to fill the lulls when the wind drops. Far from replacing fossil fuels, a dash for wood and wind means a dash for gas too, only this time we will have to subsidise it because the plants will stand idle for most of the time and pay a rising carbon floor price when they do operate. Having distorted the markets to disastrous effect with subsidies to renewables, we are now being asked, under the capacity market mechanism, to introduce compensating countersubsidies to fossil fuels.

The third assumption was that the cost of renewables would fall rapidly as we rolled them out. This has proved untrue and, indeed, as the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies has shown, the cost curve for renewables inevitably rises as the best sites are used up, not least in the North Sea. I am told by those who work in the offshore wind industry that, at the moment, the industry has every incentive to keep its costs up not down, as it sets out to strike a contract with the Government. They will not have to try very hard. Even at low estimates, offshore wind is stratospherically expensive.

The fourth assumption on which this Bill is based was that the climate would change dangerously and soon. Once again, this assumption is looking much shakier than it did five years ago. The slow rate at which the temperature has been changing over the past 50 years and the best evidence from the top-of-the-atmosphere radiation about climate sensitivity are both very clearly pointing to carbon dioxide having its full greenhouse effect but without significant net positive feedback of the kind on which all the alarm is based. The noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, and the noble Lord, Lord Stern, both mentioned Professor Myles Allen and they will be aware, therefore, of his recent paper, which found significantly reduced climate sensitivity. If that is the case, the dash to wind and biomass may well continue to do more harm to the environment as well as to the economy for many decades than climate change itself will do.

However, leaving that on one side, as my noble friend Lord Lawson said, the argument against subsidising wind and biomass does not depend on a benign view of climate change. It stands powerfully on its own merits, even if you think dangerous climate change is imminent. In 1981, my noble friend Lord Lawson, ignoring the prevailing wisdom of the day, as he sometimes does, decided against the predict-and-provide central planning philosophy and instead embraced the idea of letting the market discover the best way to provide electricity. The result was the cheapest and most flexible energy sector of any western country.

We have progressively turned our backs on that. Under this Bill, the location, the technology and the price of each power source is determined by one person—the omniscient Secretary of State. Recent occupants of that position have an unhappy history of not making wise decisions. Remember ground source heat pumps? They do not work as advertised. Remember electric vehicles? They have been a flop. Remember biofuels? They have caused rainforest destruction and hunger. Remember the Green Deal? Must we go on making these mistakes?

We have returned to a philosophy of picking winners, or rather, from the point of view of the consumer, of picking losers. Not even just picking losers, but hobbling winners, because of the obstacles we have put in the way of shale gas. America has cut its carbon emissions by far more than we have, almost entirely because of shale gas displacing coal. By pursuing a strategy that encouraged unabated gas, we could halve emissions and cut bills at the same time. Instead, I very much fear we will find we have spent a fortune to achieve neither.

Where Have all the Real Scientsts gone? Wise words from John A. Knauss

Who on earth is John A. Knauss? He was an oceanographer and was NOAA administrator between 1989 and 1993. It was his foresight which ensured that the effects of the intense El Niño of 1997-8 were adequately measured and analysed.

He added a foreword to a book which I have, written by Bruce C. Douglas and others titled "Sea Level Rise: History and Consequences", published in 2001. Its 270-odd pages are well worth a read if you're interested in a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the mechanics of the tides, and measurement of them. I'll try and find a download link and insert it here. I'll reproduce his foreword without comment apart from saying that he strongly emphasises the problem of uncertainty in understanding and quantifying the effects of the many factors which influence sea level measurement and prediction. One particular sentence of his stands out and is worth quoting right at the start.

Why is the volume of the oceans increasing? Do not expect to find an unambiguous answer in this book.
... and this:
We now believe that the ocean volume has been increasing since the middle of the 19th century at a rate equivalent to raising sea level almost 2 mm/yr, a rate considerably faster than that for the previous thousand years, although how much faster is subject to some uncertainty. That this increase in the rate of sea level rise began well before the rise in our mean atmospheric temperature of recent years gives pause to those who wish to assign its cause to anthropogenic-driven global warming.
I'll repeat my title question - where have all the real scientists (including him) gone?

Foreword to "Sea Level Rise: History and Consequences"

This book describes both clearly and in detail the complexity behind the deceptively simple subject of sea level rise, a topic of considerable scientific interest and increasing economic importance. The concept of sea level rise is quite straightforward. Some 97% of all the water on Earth is now in the oceans; most of the rest is found in glaciers, much of it in Antarctica and Greenland. Some 20,000 years ago at the peak of the last ice age, much more water was in ice and the sea level was more than 100 meters lower than it is today. The glaciers began to melt, the oceans began to fill, and the shorelines were pushed back as the sea level rose. The process continues, and the results are obvious. Archaeologists don aqua-lungs and explore the ancient port of Alexandria. Closer to home and more recent in time, St. Clements island in the Potomac River was a heavily wooded 160 hectares when first occupied by Virginia colonists. Today, some 350 years later it is about 16 hectares and has little in the way of vegetation. Pictures of battered beach houses and hotels eroded by waves after a particularly vicious winter storm moves up the east coast of the United States are a regular feature of our television news.

In the early 1980s when the issue of global warming first grabbed the headlines, I was in Washington as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. One of NOAA's tasks is to predict the tides and maintain this nation's vast array of tide gauges. What effect, I was asked, will global warming have on the change in sea level? It was embarrassing to admit that we really could not say much more than is in the above paragraph. Yes, sea level has risen in the past; we assume it still is rising, but uncertainty remains about how fast it has been rising recently, and thus we are not in a very good position to estimate how fast it might rise in the future. As this volume attests, there continue to be a number of perplexing issues. There is still uncertainty in some areas, but we do know so much more, not just about the changing volume of the ocean, but about yearly and regional variations in sea level and the reasons for them. Even more exciting, the technology now available suggests that we will soon know very much more.

We now believe that the ocean volume has been increasing since the middle of the 19th century at a rate equivalent to raising sea level almost 2 mm/yr, a rate considerably faster than that for the previous thousand years, although how much faster is subject to some uncertainty. That this increase in the rate of sea level rise began well before the rise in our mean atmospheric temperature of recent years gives pause to those who wish to assign its cause to anthropogenic-driven global warming.

Tracking the changing volume of the waters of the ocean, as distinguished from measuring local sea level, is not a simple task. Many traps lie in wait for the unwary, and not long ago many who had examined the problem were skeptical that we would ever achieve useful quantitative information. It has not been easy. Do not expect to examine a half-dozen years of local tide gauge records and derive a useful value. First, at least a 50-year record is required, because there are year-to-year changes (some of which we under-stand, but a number of which we do not) which are likely to bias records that are much shorter. Second, and often more difficult to resolve, the land bordering the sea also moves up and down. In much of Scandinavia the local sea level is dropping because the land is rising (several millimeters a year in places), continuing to rebound from the heavy weight of the glaciers removed several thousand years ago. But isostatic adjustment in those areas formerly under the ice requires some form of viscoelastic compensation in those areas away from the former ice sheets. For example, even if there were no change in the volume of the oceans, we now believe that the sea level would be rising along the east coast of the United States at about 1.4 mm/yr because that is the rate the earth is sinking in this part of the world. As a consequence the actual rise of sea level in this region is nearly double that caused by the change in the ocean volume.

Why is the volume of the oceans increasing? Do not expect to find an unambiguous answer in this book. Perhaps it is the melting of the last of our major ice fields. That is certainly what many believe, but we do not have sufficient information about the volume of ice on either Greenland or Antarctica, let alone its rate of change, to give an unambiguous answer. Perhaps the ocean is getting slightly warmer. If it is, then seawater will expand, and the volume of the ocean will increase although its mass will remain unchanged. An increase of the average ocean temperature (top to bottom) of only a few hundredths of a degree per year is all that is required to raise the sea level a couple of millimeters per year, but we do not have the kind of historical ocean temperature records to either prove or disprove such a possibility.

There may be better data on why humankind's activities of the last half century should be driving sea level lower. We have a good record of the number of dams built in the last half century and the amount of water they control. These dams change the historical flow of water from land to rivers and on to the ocean, and one can make educated guesses whether this should either increase or decrease the rate at which water reaches the ocean. Apparently, the largest single effect is the loss of water from behind the dam which leaches out of the bottom and back into groundwater. This water never makes it to farmland, homes, or industry, nor does it evaporate, later to fall as rain. This water completely bypasses the ocean. A strong case can be made that the rate at which the volume of dammed water is increasing, and thus the rate at which this water is bypassing the usual cycle, is equivalent to a decrease in sea level of possibly many tenths of a millimeter per year.

The rate of change of sea level varies from year to year and place to place. Evidence of past El Niños can clearly be seen in the long-term tidal records of San Diego and San Francisco. Year-to-year changes in the intensity of the wind-driven circulation in the North Atlantic are captured in the yearly changes in mean sea level recorded by tide gauges along the U.S. east coast. With the significant increase in tide gauge accuracy, not the least of which is the removal of the earth movement problem with the availability of GPS, one can expect tide gauges to contribute to an ever-increasing array of geophysical problems.

And finally, if sea level continues to rise, if it is indeed rising at a more rapid rate now than it was a century ago, and if, as some suggest, that rate of rise will increase as a consequence of global warming, what effect will this rising sea level have on society? To those who live in the Ganges delta of Bangladesh, on coral atolls in the Pacific, or below sea level in The Netherlands, this subject holds special interest. One estimate has some 100 million of us living within one meter of sea level. I expect they will be among those most interested in the latest news on this subject.

John A. Knauss

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Sea-level in Australia and the Southern Oscillation Index

I've read a fair bit about the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) over the years, about how much ENSO (El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation) affects sea-level in the Pacific. I've noted effects, particularly the El Niño "dip" in the western and central Pacific, and the corresponding "spike" in the east (especially the US Pacific shore). However, my impression was that it was just the extremes, El Niño and the less-well defined La Niña that had any real effect on Pacific sea-level. Before I continue, it's worthwhile quoting what Australia's Bureau of Meteorology has to say about the SOI; it's succinct and informative:
The Southern Oscillation Index, or SOI, gives an indication of the development and intensity of El Niño or La Niña events in the Pacific Ocean. The SOI is calculated using the pressure differences between Tahiti and Darwin.
Sustained negative values of the SOI below −8 often indicate El Niño episodes. These negative values are usually accompanied by sustained warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, a decrease in the strength of the Pacific Trade Winds, and a reduction in winter and spring rainfall over much of eastern Australia and the Top End. You can read more about historical El Niño events and their effect on Australia in the Detailed analysis of past El Niño events.
Sustainted [sic] positive values of the SOI above +8 are typical of a La Niña episode. They are associated with stronger Pacific trade winds and warmer sea temperatures to the north of Australia. Waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean become cooler during this time. Together these give an increased probability that eastern and northern Australia will be wetter than normal. You can read more about historical La Niña events and their effect on Australia in the Detailed analysis of past La Niña events. 
The ENSO Wrap-Up includes the latest 30-day SOI value, as well as other information on indicators of El Niño and La Niña events.
 The graph below shows monthly values of the SOI in recent years.

On the following page they have links to data tables; Wanting to create a spreadsheet of monthly SOI values (from 1876!) I was dismayed to find the table to be structured as years down and months across. However, using Excel's Copy and Paste-Special/Transpose functions I was able to do it, laboriously year by year. Here's the result for 1959 to May 2013. The reason for the not-so-obvious start year will become obvious very soon.

SOI index 1959-2013    Data source: BOM

I've added a 25-month (2 year) centred moving average to smooth out the spikes without suppressing the signal. A 13-month MA would seem to be more appropriate, but gives too "lumpy" a trace; a 37-month MA smooths just too much. Like Goldilocks' porridge the 25-month MA is "just right".

Comparing the SOI plot with a sea-level plot is easy, but I wondered if I could add the SOI to a sea-level chart in some way. One problem is that the signal is relatively small, and the other is that it varies around a (flat, obviously) zero value. I hit on the wheeze of "magnifying" the SOI signal, and normalising the start of the SOI moving average with the start of the sea-level moving average, incrementing the magnified SOI by the monthly sea-level-trend increment. I tried a factor of 10 for magnification, on the basis that the SOI signal is based on air pressure at sea level, and one hPa change leads to a 10 mm sea-level change (in the opposite direction). My assumption may not have had much maths behind it, but the "porridge effect" operated and it was "just right". Here's the result for Darwin:

Darwin complete sea-level record 1959-2012       Data source: BOM/NTC

I don't now what you think, but I'd call that a rather good correlation, especially over the right-hand half of the chart. Here's one for Fremantle over the same period.

Fremantle sea-level 1959-2013  Data source: BOM/NTC

For both Darwin and Fremantle, note that the recent (since 1994) sharp upward trend has begun a downward reverse, more clearly predicted on the SOI chart which extends to last month (May 2013). The large and broad downward bulge around 1983 corresponds with the intense (some would say most intense on record) El Niño of 1982-3. It shows up well on the 25m MA sea-level plot for Darwin (and most Australian stations), but sea-level rose at Fremantle during that event. All the other El Niños show up on both charts; the broad low during the early 1990s (1991-2 and 1994-5 El Niños, with just 1993 between) and the intense but shorter 1997-8 El Niño. The 2010 El Niño was a more subdued affair.

I think it's clear that the SOI doesn't just affect variations in sea-level, it drives them, at least on the west coast of Australia. In a future post I'll look at other Oz stations for correlation, and where correlation is poor, explore possible reasons.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Damp Data from Down Under - Australian Sea Level Update

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology finally go their act together and published sea-level data (to the end of 2012) at the end of May. Prior to that, the latest data (other than for the newer ABSLMP stations) was to the end of 2010. I've been hard at work updating and expanding my database, and will update my reference page soon. In the meantime, I present charts for the two long-term "poster-children", Fremantle and Sydney. Both much analysed, much discussed, and often misrepresented. A certain Andrea Boretti spent many hours, produced many spreadsheets and charts, wrote many pages, and tortured the Sydney data at length until it confessed that there wasn't much of note going on there - in other words, there was no sign of any significant acceleration in the rate of rise.

In my humble opinion, if your intention is to analyse the rate to identify any significant change, then do just that. There's no need for "sliding windows", spectral analysis, polynomial curve-fitting or anything else. For example, calculate the rate from the start year to a succession of years, e.g. 1900-1910, 1900-1911, and so on to the last year of data. I've made it a standard analysis in almost all of my spreadsheets, and shown examples in a number of posts. While the amount of variation in the long-term rate reduces with the data length, significant year-to-year changes are still clearly represented in addition to longer-period change. Here's the chart for Sydney - I've used a 121-month (10-year) centred running mean. The rate has increased a little from the previous chart's 0.89 mm/year (to 2010).

Sydney, NSW - Sea level 1914-2012  (Data source: BOM)

The plot of the annual rate shows a break in slope at 1997, and a small increase thereafter.

Sydney, NSW - trend in mm/year from date on lower axis.

Fremantle has seen a definite change after 1994 - the running mean shows an uptick after then. This is not surprising, all West and North-West Australia stations show similar upticks, an acceleration in fact; in the Fremantle case after around 40 years of little change, even a slight reduction after the middle 70's.

Fremantle. WA - Sea-level 1897-2012   (Data source: BOM)

The long-term trend plot reflects the change, with a break in slope at 1994, and an increasing upward trend after 1998.

Fremantle. WA - trend in mm/year from date on lower axis.

There are those who would have you believe that nothing of the sort has happened; "situation normal, no change", but the evidence is clear. More on this in a post in preparation. However, the fairly sharp increase in rate over the last couple of decades around the west of Oz and the far-western Pacific in general is matched by virtually no change on the eastern shores - North and South America, and little or no change in the central Pacific. It's quite clear to me that what the satellites have recorded over the last 20 years is fairly accurate - those who would have you believe otherwise never actually compare tide-gauge data for exactly the same period as the satellite timespan. If you've seen such claims, check out what was actually compared - nothing, just a few longer-term charts produced. "See, there's no comparison!" they say, when they've done no comparison whatsoever. More (in detail, with real comparisons) on that in a future post too.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Nodal Tidal Cycle - more evidence

You've probably never heard of Port Pirie. It's a mining town and port (really?) in South Australia, north of Adelaide, though Australians might call it a city. In common with many ports in Australia it has a tide gauge.

Nothing very spectacular to see there, just a pronounced dip caused by the intense 1997/8 El Niño, followed by a step rise and a relative stasis, and a low overall rate of rise. Apart from the lesser dips going back to 1969, all caused by previous El Niños, there's no obvious signs of any cycles in the data. That data provided by the BOM's National Tidal Centre, has a standard deviation included for the hourly data which is averaged to create the monthly averages plotted on the chart. The standard deviation reflects the variability of the hourly data through the tidal cycles, and that variability is increased or reduced by the effect of the 18.61-year period of the nodal tidal cycle (NTC). If the standard deviation is plotted something quite spectacular appears.

Proof if any is still needed, of the lack of any great influence of the NTC on mean sea-level. Using the standard deviation to show the effect of the NTC on tidal variability is a technique I'd like to be able to claim as my own invention, but I have to give all the credit to one David Pugh, author of several excellent books on things tidal. It's obvious when you think about it - I just didn't think about it - doh! In common with other regions worldwide, some Australian stations show the cycle clearly (Port Pirie is just the clearest example) and some don't. Fremantle in Western Australia is another Oz station which clearly shows the cycle; it has a much longer record than Port Pirie, and the cycle has an evident upward trend. First the gauge record -

..... and the standard deviation showing the NTC -

Note the obvious upward trend - this doesn't indicate any marked effect on mean sea-level, but shows that the tidal range, the difference between low and high water, is increasing somewhat. I don't know whether this is a feature of west-coast sites or not, but Sydney on the east coast shows a much steeper downward trend. What the cause of these trends might be, I don't now, and I can't find any literature which might throw some light on it. Perhaps there's something here waiting to be discovered.