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BBC Ignore The Facts

February 25, 2015

By Paul Homewood




More alarmist nonsense from the BBC, by yet another of their “Environmental Correspondents”. (How many do they ruddy well have?)

Many people reading this will be led to believe that outlandish forecasts of several feet of sea level rise this century must be true. This is what the BBC report:



Sea levels along the northeast coast of the US rose by record levels during 2009-2010, a study has found.

Sea levels north of New York City rose by 128mm in two years, according to a report in the journal, Nature Communications.

Coastal areas will need to prepare for short term and extreme sea level events, say US scientists.

Climate models suggest extreme sea level rises will become more common this century.

"The extreme sea level rise event during 2009-10 along the northeast coast of North America is unprecedented during the past century," Prof Jianjun Yin of the University of Arizona told BBC News.

"Statistical analysis indicates that it is a 1-in-850 year event."

Scientists at the University of Arizona and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in New Jersey studied records of tidal levels along the east coast of the US and Canada.

They divided the coastline into three areas: north of New York City, New York City to Cape Hatteras on the coast of North Carolina, and south of Cape Hatteras.

They identified what they call an extreme sea-level rise during 2009-10, when the coastal sea level north of New York City jumped by 128mm.

"When coastal storms occur, extreme sea levels can lead to elevated storm surge," said Prof Jianjun Yin.

"In addition to long-term and gradual sea level rise, coastal communities will need to prepare for short and extreme sea level rise events."

Commenting on the study, Prof Rowan Sutton, climate scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading, said climate models suggest an increase in such events.

"This study identifies a record breaking high sea level event that occurred along part of the US east coast in 2009-10.

"There is strong evidence that the likelihood of such events has been increased by climate change, and that we should expect more such events in the future.

"This example illustrates how individual extreme events are influenced by multiple factors – in this case the global rise of sea levels, regional changes in ocean circulation, and wind patterns."

Dr Dan Hodson, also from the University of Reading, said the analysis underlined the importance of understanding the connections between surges in sea levels and ocean currents.

"Sea level change is a complex phenomenon, especially on the regional scale, where changes to the global ocean circulation can play a major role," he said.

"The east coast of North America is quite close to an area of active, fast ocean currents, and so is quite sensitive to changing ocean circulation."

He said the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a major current in the Atlantic Ocean, had implications for Europe and Africa as well as the US.

Research at the University of Reading has shown how it could make British summers wetter and may influence rainfall patterns in parts of Africa.


This is the paper they refer to:



An extreme event of sea-level rise along the Northeast coast of North America in 2009–2010



The coastal sea levels along the Northeast Coast of North America show significant year-to-year fluctuations in a general upward trend. The analysis of long-term tide gauge records identified an extreme sea-level rise (SLR) event during 2009–10. Within this 2-year period, the coastal sea level north of New York City jumped by 128 mm. This magnitude of interannual SLR is unprecedented (a 1-in-850 year event) during the entire history of the tide gauge records. Here we show that this extreme SLR event is a combined effect of two factors: an observed 30% downturn of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation during 2009–10, and a significant negative North Atlantic Oscillation index. The extreme nature of the 2009–10 SLR event suggests that such a significant downturn of the Atlantic overturning circulation is very unusual. During the twenty-first century, climate models project an increase in magnitude and frequency of extreme interannual SLR events along this densely populated coast.


So what do the tide gauges tell us? Let’s look at New York.




There is no sign of any acceleration in sea level rise. What is noticeable is that sea levels fell sharply between 2005 and 2007, making the subsequent recovery greater. Since 2010 sea level has actually fallen by 58mm! Indeed, sea levels in 2013, (the latest available data) were actually lower than in 2005.

We can get a better idea by looking at the interannual charts prepared by NOAA. This measures the year-on-year changes.




We can see the upward blip in 2010, and the downward blip preceding it. But we can also see similar annual increases in earlier years. The reality is that sea levels do not act in a predictable, uniform way, but instead go up and down in surprisingly large chunks from year to year.

The paper actually makes a useful contribution in explaining these changes in terms of ocean currents and wind patterns.

Much more important, though, are the longer term changes. As we can see below from the 50-year trends, sea level increase at New York was greatest in the mid 20thC, before slowing down, and then picking back up again.





We see exactly the same pattern at Boston and Portland.






The truth is much too inconvenient for the BBC to print. Quite simply, sea levels around the northeast United States have been rising steadily since the 19thC, and there is no evidence that anything at all unusual is happening now.

Sometimes I think they are so brainwashed by their own propaganda that they are blind to reality.

  1. February 25, 2015 2:42 pm

    Notice the statement of fact: “Climate models suggest extreme sea level rises will become more common this century.”

    I thought the spreadsheet-writers usually covered their @rses with caveats such as ‘may’ or ‘could’.

    • February 25, 2015 3:20 pm

      They can always back out of it because the models only suggested it, like I could suggest the BBC is a propaganda organisation, the difference of course being that I’m right.

  2. February 25, 2015 3:13 pm

    These are the figures of annual sea level from PSMSL for New York Battery for the years around 2009/10

    2006; 7119;N;000
    2007; 7065;N;000
    2008; 7122;N;000
    2009; 7149;N;000
    2010; 7185;N;000
    2011; 7182;N;000
    2012; 7156;N;000
    2013; 7124;N;000

    It’s kind of impossible to see how they got a 128mm increase for the two year period of 2009/10.

    Sea levels went from 7065 in 2007 to 7185 in 2010 which is
    a) 3 years
    b) 120mm

    but sea levels were 7119 in 2007 and 7124 in 2013. Seems annually measured sea levels can go up and down 60mm over the period of a few years.

    I wonder if it’s got anything to do with there not being an integer number of lunar cycles in a calendar year??

    As to how they worked out it’s 1 in 850 year event – they probably made it up

    Is this a demonstration of need for better arithmetic teaching at primary schools (and the bbc)?

  3. February 25, 2015 3:42 pm

    BBC Lying by omission again
    … Saying that something rose dramatically , but then not saying it has fallen back down again is deliberate deception.
    Environment Correspondent : more like Environment Disinformationalist
    .. I guess a Lord Hawarrabin protigee

  4. A C Osborn permalink
    February 25, 2015 3:46 pm

    The important point about thr AMOC has been lost in the hype.
    It occurred due to a natural phenomenon.

  5. john cooknell permalink
    February 26, 2015 12:17 pm

    Exactly what I was thinking, a 128mm rise from WHAT! Things move around a bit, always have, always will.

    However, they will need the models to show how bad things would have been if “prompt action to reduce CO2” had not been taken, otherwise in the future we might start to think the doom predictions were inaccurate.

  6. tom0mason permalink
    February 26, 2015 12:38 pm

    Who cares if they just spout nonsense?
    All they really want is for you all to keep paying the BBC tax, err.. TV Licence fee.
    It’s not required for you to watch. Or is it now?

  7. antoniobianchini permalink
    February 26, 2015 2:32 pm

    BBC staff should visit Venice for a while (I’m living in Padova). They would discover that sea level sometimes increases and some other times it decreases. BBC might conclude that this is because italian industries are not working and emitting CO2 all the time.

    • Alex Emodi permalink
      February 26, 2015 5:04 pm

      Brilliant conclusion Antonio. :>D

  8. antoniobianchini permalink
    February 26, 2015 5:09 pm

    Actually, in the diagrams above, I clearly see the well known (but not a lot of people know…) 60 yr fluctuation. This fluctuation was known by ancient Sumeris and, believe or not, it is evident in our more modern temperature records of both sea and land. Surprise!

  9. antoniobianchini permalink
    February 26, 2015 5:10 pm

    Thank you Alex

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