Panicking NZ climate scientists go for the doctor – predict nearly half-metre sea level rise PER DECADE!

Forget about the UN IPCC’s upcoming AR5 climate change report, their colleagues in New Zealand’s Antarctic Research Institute have gone the full Chicken-Little and are predicting sea level will rise 4cm per year, or a whacking great four metres per century.

Given that sea levels are currently rising by between 1.5 and 3 millimetres a year, an increase to 4cm a year will require some doing. Nonetheless, the NZ ARI are trying to suggest that’s what’s around the corner if we don’t stop using roads, lights, heaters and supermarkets:

“Antarctic ice melt may result in sea levels rising by up to 5 m and as fast as 4 cm per year. Even with the most optimistic scenarios for stabilizing atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations, the world can no longer avoid 2°C of warming by 2100, meaning we are already committed to irreversible meltdown of Greenland and West Antarctica. The questions is when, how much and how fast!,” the NZ ARI state in a just released paper.

In it, they justify their warnings by claiming the IPCC and other climate scientists have been getting it wrong:

“Whereas most climate models, including those used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are based on a linear sequence of progressive and predictable changes, the melting of polar ice is the result of complex interactions that have resulted in non-linear, even runaway rates of melting during times of past warming.”

The paper claims New Zealand climate scientists are the world experts on Antarctic ice melt and are well-placed to lead research on runaway sea level rise:

“Even though 80% of the heat from global warming ahs [sic] gone into the Southern Ocean, the international community is only now focusing attention on the important role of the water mass beneath ice-shelves contributing to ice shelf disintegration. We still have very few measurements of the water mass beneath an ice shelf, let alone an understanding of how changing ocean currents around Antarctic will destablise the ice shelves. New Zealand is well placed to lead an international initiative to obtain the first transect of data from beneath the Ross Ice Shelf.

“The international research community is establishing terrestrial observing systems through the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research and New Zealand has already taken the lead in developing the Antarctic Environments Portal to ensure policy ready Antarctic research knowledge is made immediately available to national and international decision makers.”

Meanwhile, back in the real world… you would read this:

“I find it almost inconceivable that ‘business as usual’ climate change will not result in a rise in sea level measured in metres within a century. Am I the only scientist who thinks so?” asked NASA’s Jim Hansen.

Possibly, now, he just might be. According to a new study by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Colorado University’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Hansen has more chance of finding a snowball in global warming hell than he does of seeing the sea level rise by five or ten metres.

The study took on board the claims Hansen and other global warming believers have made about melting ice, but then did something that hasn’t been done before – they checked to see how fast the glaciers would actually have to melt to achieve a multi-metre rise in sea levels, and whether this was actually possible.

“Despite projections by some scientists of global seas rising by 20 feet or more by the end of this century as a result of warming, a new University of Colorado at Boulder study concludes that global sea rise of much more than 6 feet is a near physical impossibility,” begins a bulletin from the University.

“For Greenland alone to raise sea level by two metres by 2100, all of the outlet glaciers involved would need to move more than three times faster than the fastest outlet glaciers ever observed, or more than 70 times faster than they presently move,” one of the Colorado team, Tad Pfeffer, explained. “And they would have to start moving that fast today [2008], not 10 years from now. It is a simple argument with no fancy physics.”

The reason it’s simple is because glaciers don’t just melt overnight, no matter how hot it’s been. The ice not only has to turn to water, but the water has to find its way out. The world’s fastest outlet glaciers, incidentally, are moving at a hefty 12 kilometres a year, so Greenland’s glaciers, all of them, would have to start whizzing out of their valley beds at speeds approaching one kilometre a week, and continue moving that fast, day and night, for the rest of this century, just to achieve Hansen and Gore’s fantasy of a two metre sea level increase.

Logistically then, the chances of a big sea level rise are almost non-existent, even with global warming.

“The gist of the study is that very simple, physical considerations show that some of the very large predictions of sea level rise are unlikely, because there is simply no way to move the ice or the water into the ocean that fast,” said Pfeffer.

Their study, published in Science, indicates the NASA GISS chief’s claim is possible, but only on paper, and arguably even then only after a long night of weed-smoking.

“We consider glaciological conditions required for large sea level rise to occur by 2100 and conclude increases of 2 metres are physically untenable. We find that a total sea level rise of about 2 metres by 2100 could occur under physically possible glaciological conditions but only if all variables are quickly accelerated to extremely high limits.”

Like others, Pfeffer says the research is a warning to political leaders to make sure they’re certain of the science before they start spending money like water.

“If we plan for 6 feet and only get 2 feet, for example, or visa versa, we could spend billions of dollars of resources solving the wrong problems.”

The irony here is that global warming’s high priests are being unintentionally skewered by colleagues working in the climate research field.

As if on cue, the journal Science has just published a major study suggesting nearly three quarters of the warming recorded in the Atlantic Ocean since 1980 has nothing to do with climate change, and everything to do with dust storms in Africa spreading out over the Atlantic like a cloud and keeping the sea cooler. An analysis of the past 26 years shows years with fewer dust storms and volcanic eruptions invariably resulted in higher sea temperatures.

“A lot of this upward trend in the long-term pattern can be explained just by dust storms and volcanoes,” lead researcher Amato Evan told ScienceDaily. “About 70 percent of it is just being forced by the combination of dust and volcanoes, and about a quarter of it is just from the dust storms themselves.”

Only 30% of the ocean warming can be laid at the door of other factors, including climate change or solar forcing. Dustier or more volcanic years mean fewer hurricanes because of the lower ocean temperatures (hurricanes need warm water to feed on). Conversely clearer years mean a warmer Atlantic and rising sea levels because of thermal expansion of the water, as well as warmer currents affecting Arctic sea ice.

“Volcanoes and dust storms are really important if you want to understand changes over long periods of time,” Evan reported. “If they have a huge effect on ocean temperature, they’re likely going to have a huge effect on hurricane variability as well.”

So much for the hurricane images in Al Gore’s movie. [All extracted from the book “Air Con”]

The NZ Antarctic Research Institute scare story of a multi-metre sea level increase within a century is also sharply at odds with recent studies finding Antarctic warming is within the bounds of historical normal.

Nor is the NZ position in sync with predictions from top Russian scientists who argue we are currently heading towards a new mini ice age.

A newly-released scientific paper reveals Antarctica’s ice melt rate during the so called “hottest decade ever” would, if it continued at the same rate, contribute half an inch to global sea level increases by 2100.

Meanwhile, here’s a simple piece of logic you can test the NZ Antarctic Research Institute’s claims against: If 80% of the world’s entire global warming heat has “gone into the Southern Ocean”, why is Antarctic sea ice reaching record high levels?


  1. Ah well.

    It looks like the AGW/CC Sea level disaster has been averted. Panicking Climate Scientists of the politicized propaganda kind can go and find a new job in some other more useful field. 🙂

    Now it appears new findings quadruple the present CO2 levels are required for disaster.. and even after CO2 levels are quadrupled it’s still unlikely to do all the disasters it’s supposed to cause!

    The climate sensitivity of CO2 isn’t all that great afterall. Well who’d have thought it. It was quite obvious to anyone who had a thinking rational brain. Certainly not the idiot Climate Scientist experts and the Chicken Little Ship of Fools Academics!

  2. “No climate scientist has ever claimed that sea levels will rise by 20 feet by the end fo the century”.

    Yeah. Nah:

    “As an example, let us say that ice sheet melting adds 1 centimetre to sea level for the decade 2005 to 2015, and that this doubles each decade until the West Antarctic ice sheet is largely depleted. This would yield a rise in sea level of more than 5 metres by 2095,” intoned Hansen.
    But although Hansen started with five, the excitement in his New Scientist article built as he threw in a fresh estimate of ten metres a century.
    “There is growing evidence that the global warming already underway could bring a comparably rapid rise in sea level. The process begins with human-made greenhouse gases, which cause the atmosphere to be more opaque to infrared radiation, thus decreasing radiation of heat to space. As a result, the Earth is gaining more heat than it is losing: currently 0.5 to 1 watts per square metre. This planetary energy imbalance is sufficient to melt ice corresponding to 1 metre of sea level rise per decade.”

    You got your first statement wrong, big time. Evidently you also failed to read the NZ Antarctic Research Institute paper properly, because five metres a century is what it predicts.

    Keep drinking the climate science Kool-aid from those nice guys in white coats…

  3. No climate scientist has ever claimed that sea levels will rise by 20 feet by the end fo the century.
    Just yet another flat out lie from the denial PR machine.
    If the denial industry is so sure of their case why do they lie over and over and over again?

  4. Au contraire John, this site is utterly evidence-based. Convince me that human-generated CO2 is the primary driver of climate, with peer-reviewed science whose data has not been tortured beyond recognition, and I’ll change my mind. I strongly recommend you read Judith Curry’s postings if you want to see a genuine climate scientist looking at this objectively. I wouldn’t give you more than tuppence ha’penny for NZ’s climate scientists. When I began asking polite, but challenging questions at a news conference, I was booted out because they couldn’t answer my questions and were feeling the heat, so to speak. I have gone head to head with NZ’s senior climate scientists in debates, and the reviews went my way, not theirs. Evidence, hard evidence, is all I ask for.

  5. “The thumping that warming has taken over past 17 years, despite a big climb in CO2 concentrations, shows that there are more powerful natural forces at play than just CO2, and the computer models are not sophisticated enough to account for that.”

    And of course they cant modify the models to produce more repeatable outcomes, just as they wont learn from the recent hiatus in climate. They will of course learn, THAT is science. I realize you CAN’T believe that they will learn.

    Let them gather the data do their job, watch & learn. I look forward to the data that will come from the core at Roosevelt Island by the New Zealand led team and am confident that Eric Steig in a spirit of co-operation will use that data to improve his own understanding. Its not necessary to abuse & denigrate.

    I realize I’m on a fools errand being on this site, that it represents a hard line view that is not influenced by evidence.

    With that I’ll say Good day.

  6. CO2 mitigation appears to be relatively unimportant in the great scheme of things. For most of earth’s history, life has existed with CO2 levels at between 3000 and 7000 ppm…not the current 400ppm…we’re actually living in some of the lowest CO2 times in earth’s history.

    The thumping that warming has taken over past 17 years, despite a big climb in CO2 concentrations, shows that there are more powerful natural forces at play than just CO2, and the computer models are not sophisticated enough to account for that.

    If doing two things at once means making the green climate-industrialists rich on the basis of what turns out to be a false premise, count me out. By all means, let’s plan new subdivisions at higher levels and build highways further inland, but don’t tell me that emissions trading makes a blind bit of difference to temperature – it doesn’t.

    As for “highly likely to be unnatural” – we’re way off finding evidence in support of that claim at this stage. The IPCC (bless them) could only barely find the trace of a human signal in temperatures post 1970, and now even Pachauri is conceding the planet has not warmed significantly any further since 1998. The Northern Hemisphere has been wracked by five cold winters in a row, each worse than the last…and it snowed in Auckland last year. The sun is going quiet, and historically that means “cooler”.

  7. Ian,
    I agree we all must stop the hand wringing & guilt , appreciate the tip.

    Ah yes the old misnomer that we should focus either on CO2 mitigation OR adaption.
    I like the idea of getting the science right ish.. and maybe doing two things at once. Yes it is possible!

    You do seem rather taken by the idea of blind faith.

    I’m guessing you’d agree then that if its highly likely to be UN natural we’d better get stuck in and get mitigating AND adapting!

  8. “The implication being because it has happened before we needn’t worry”

    Not quite. The implication being that if it is likely natural (and given the lag time of ice sheets in response to warming it almost definitely is), then no amount of hand-wringing and guilt or cutting CO2 emissions is going to make a blind bit of difference to the outcome.

    Better to plan for potential possibilities and put money where it really makes a difference – town planning and adaptation – rather than combating a trace gas whose influence is minimal, even in the peer reviewed studies that attribute most warming to other things. I’m reminded of blind French faith in the Maginot line while the Nazis snuck around the back. The expense of concentrating on CO2 and so-called alternative energy may be better spent in other areas if the planet’s natural forces are the real drivers of warming and cooling.

  9. Ian , I guess the implication being , because its happened before we needn’t worry.
    However to repeat Erics words…………

    note that I’m pretty sure I didn’t say — or didn’t mean to say! —

    that “We are in a similar climate regime as the world was in the early Eemian,” as I am quoted.

    A key difference is that CO2 was not as high as today, but insolation forcing was much higher. So the analogy only goes so far.

    Now my words, the conditions were much different! Because the insolation forcing was MUCH higher.

    So be very careful when comparing two superficially similar situations. There may be little real information.

  10. Yeah, for the sake of accuracy let me quote from Eric’s own news release:

    New ice core research suggests that, while the changes are dramatic, they cannot be attributed with confidence to human-caused global warming, said Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences.

    Previous work by Steig has shown that rapid thinning of Antarctic glaciers was accompanied by rapid warming and changes in atmospheric circulation near the coast. His research with Qinghua Ding, a UW research associate, showed that the majority of Antarctic warming came during the 1990s in response to El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

    Their new research suggests the ’90s were not greatly different from some other decades – such as the 1830s and 1940s – that also showed marked temperature spikes.

    “If we could look back at this region of Antarctica in the 1940s and 1830s, we would find that the regional climate would look a lot like it does today, and I think we also would find the glaciers retreating much as they are today,” said Steig, lead author of a paper on the findings published online April 14 in Nature Geoscience.

    The researchers’ results are based on their analysis of a new ice core from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide that goes back 2,000 years, along with a number of other ice core records going back about 200 years. They found that during that time there were several decades that exhibited similar climate patterns as the 1990s.

    Yup…there have been four periods in the past 150 years with warming accelerating at the same rates as it did recently (it has not warmed since 1998 in any statistically significant sense), and three of those periods were outside the era of human CO2 influence as recognised by the IPCC. I am not surprised modern Antarctic warming (let’s be honest, Antarctic peninsula warming) reflects the same patterns of normal climate behaviour.

  11. So here’s an example of Quoting Science: This is is Eric Steig who one could say is suggesting the current melt is not unusual, its happened before.

    However…………….Erics own words:

    Note: There is a nice summary of the implications of the paper on the Nature web site,
    though note that I’m pretty sure I didn’t say — or didn’t mean to say! —

    that “We are in a similar climate regime as the world was in the early Eemian,” as I am quoted.

    A key difference is that CO2 was not as high as today, but insolation forcing was much higher. So the analogy only goes so far.

  12. It is not “denialist” to quote peer reviewed science on the physics of ice sheet degradation in order to rebut the fantasist non-peer-reviewed crap that regularly spouts forth from NZ government climate “scientists”, and yes the use of scare quotes is deliberate. What a bunch of Noddies, along with any hyperventilating muppet who accepts such warnings uncritically.

    I don’t have to discredit NZ climate science, they’re doing it to themselves quite successfully without any help from me.

  13. “scaremongering for effect”

    Classic denialist speak.
    Maybe we should ask people who really know about Climate, say Lord Mockton or Climate SCIENCE co-illusion. These people are demonstrably unstable. ie the recent case against NIWA.

    Wishart wants it both ways, he wants to appear credible, but discredit main stream science.

  14. They are scaremongering for effect, Steve. Nothing more. Ridiculous. Given the well-documented research on the physics of melt, it was irresponsible to even float the boat in the way that they have done in their much-hyped (by them and the media) news release.

  15. The NZ ARI aren’t saying sea levels WILL rise by those amounts. They have published a proposal for further research that highlights areas needing more study. They make reference to *possible* outcomes at the extreme, emphasising we do not know enough to properly assess outcomes with any real precision.

    They are saying that they MAY rise by those amounts in what looks like the worst case scenario – given certain events happen. What they have written is a an outline for further research, referencing these things as possible……but we don’t know because we don’t know enough about the climatic interactions.

    Looks like a reading comprehension fail at the Wishart house. I don’t see anyone predicting anything. I do see a group putting forward a worst case scenario and emphasising how important it is that we should do more study.

  16. “Wishart is all over the place on this subject”

    Yeah, right. I have been consistent. Any “scientist” who in the one breath admits they know very little about Antarctic processes, yet in the other then declares we are in for half a metre of sea level rise per decade, doesn’t deserve the moniker scientist. “Chook” is more apt, and probably extends to those who also fail to apply critical thinking and blindly follow them.

  17. “Panicking”………………Wishart is all over the place on this subject. Give me the Scientists any day, its time we backed these guys who are our best source of knowledge.

    Any body can cut & paste other peoples work & appear knowledgeable. Scientists introduce rigor that lacks in the cut & plasterers.

  18. Will these sensationalist “Climate Scientists” resign and jobs that truly reflects their skills (or lack thereof) if and when the actual sea-level changes prove their forecasts to be very wrong?

    Climate change, sea levels, CO2 levels have been fluctuating for millions of years without any intervention by man. That ongoing funding is required to keep scientists in their ivory towers instead of getting into the real world, is the real driver for this scaremongering. I cannot help but wondering what these self-declared “climate change experts” were doing before it became fashionable to be one one of these dime-a-dozen academics.

  19. No need to panic, Scarfetta estimates 21st Centuary sea level rise at 9 inches

    This very interesting paper on Sea Level is introduced by Roger Tatersall on his blog Tallbloke:
    Nicola Scafetta: Major new sea level study – finds C21st rise likely to be less than a foot.
    Posted: April 23, 2013 by tallbloke:

    “Congratulations to Nicola Scafetta, who has successfully published a new paper on sea level rise Multi-scale dynamical analysis (MSDA) of sea level records versus PDO, AMO, and NAO indexes in the journal Climate Dynamics. ”

    ” Using tide gauge records going back as far as 1700, Nicola compares the trends in sea level rise acceleration at widely spread geographical locations once the quasi-cyclic components are removed and finds the long term global average to be very small – around 0.01mm/yr. Very little difference is found between acceleration rates between the pre and post industrial eras. It is suggested the acceleration is a natural variation due to the recovery from the little ice age as part of a quasi millennial cycle which may continue until the mid C21st. In conclusion the study suggests that sea level rise during the C21st will be around 277+/-7mm, or about 9 inches.”

  20. “The paper claims New Zealand climate scientists are the world experts on Antarctic ice melt and are well-placed to lead research on runaway sea level rise:”

    “It appears they’re the World’s Leading Expert Idiots.

    “Antarctic ice melt may result in sea levels rising by up to 5 m and as fast as 4 cm per year. Even with the most optimistic scenarios for stabilizing atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations, the world can no longer avoid 2°C of warming by 2100”

    That has very little likelyhood in reality. The 2C scenario was alway a gross destortion of warming anyway. I see latest figures have now delayed that scenario by another century to 2200. Since the CO2 to ppm ratio to cause the said warming isn’t adding up in the real world. And its’ very unlikely it ever will!!

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