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Scary Headlines About Thames Estuary Sea Levels Don’t Stand Up To Scrutiny

November 18, 2016

By Paul Homewood


h/t TomO





Latest news from the “We’re all going to drown department”.


Simon Evans, who is Policy Editor at Carbon Brief, and calls himself a Doctor, is referring to a recent publication by the Environment Agency – TE2100 5 Year Monitoring Review.

But as is usually the case with alarmist scientists, he has produced a highly misleading headline by using cherry picked data.


This is the key table from the report, claiming 4.52mm/yr average sea level rise.




But the first thing you notice is that sea levels were rising even faster at the start of the record, 1930-44.

However, look closer and you will see that you can only get such a scary figure of 4.52mm by using a period that has the year of 2007, when sea levels were abnormally low, in the first half of the period, and finishing in 2014, when they were anomalously high.


ScreenHunter_4826 Nov. 18 16.51



In fact no serious scientist, and certainly no reputable statistician would think about drawing trends over such a short period of time. And particularly not with tidal gauge data, which can be notably volatile.

This is certainly the case in the North Sea, where winds and ocean currents can lead to a build up of water.

You will also readily notice that sea levels fell back sharply again in 2015, yet this was not included in the average.


In fact, far from the scary impression given, the reality is much more mundane.

According to the PSMSL data, sea levels at Southend rose from 7088mm to 7117mm between 1999 and 2015. This equates to a rise of 1.81mm a year.

Furthermore, as the Environment Agency study goes on to explain, the land at Southend is sinking at a rate of 1.04mm/yr (see Shoeburyness, which is on the outskirts of Southend).





In other words, absolute sea level rise (as opposed to relative) is only 0.77mm/yr.


Regardless of statistical trends, the only thing which really matters is what is happening with peak surges. In other words, the times when sea levels become dangerously high.

And here again, the Environment Agency report nails the lie that sea level rise is accelerating. (Skew surge excludes the effect of astronomical tides).






Finally, let’s have a look at the statistics for the Thames Barrier:




Note that the unusually high number of closures in 2013/14 coincided with the extremely wet winter in the Thames Valley. These closures were designed to avoid flooding in West London and have little or nothing to do with high tides.

Taking fluvial closures out of the equation, there is little to suggest that closures have become more common in recent years, despite the land sinking.

  1. Ian Magness permalink
    November 18, 2016 6:24 pm

    Absolutely pathetic.
    P45 for the supposed “Doctor”.

    • Adrian permalink
      November 19, 2016 6:38 pm

      Sorry I sometimes call myself ‘doctor’ too, because I am.

      So Paul is he actually a PhD or a medic or what? If he is then fine why are you using what amounts to sarcastic insult, does it help your case??

      If he has a PhD, but in an unrelated subject he is basically deceiving the world (and probably himself and his tiny ego-tesicles), but it happens ALL the time today, esp in the world of climate ‘science’.

      If he isn’t a doctor by degree then he should be ousted as a fraud.

      Either way he’s clearly a self-serving, cretinous anal sphincter of the first order.

      But please Paul stay objective, whichever of the above apply then spell it out. Who knows he might be an expert in something, he’s clearly clever enough to pick the lowest and highest numbers here, that’s not chance.

      • Bob permalink
        November 20, 2016 11:34 am
        quote —
        “Dr Simon Evans is our policy editor, covering climate and energy policy. He holds a PhD in biochemistry from Bristol University and previously studied chemistry at Oxford University. He worked for environment journal.”
        He would not have got away with dodgy statistical interpretation defending his thesis (PhD viva) so he should be ashamed doing to the general public what he would not get away with it with his peers.

  2. November 18, 2016 6:33 pm

    Really. is this the best they can do?

  3. FundMe permalink
    November 18, 2016 7:52 pm

    The Thames barrier was built because of a percieved threat the threat existed prior to the build. The whole of Southern England is sinking slowly into the mud. Now we might ask, where is the displaced mud going. I believe the displaced mud is going to be a national catastrophe. I am undertaking a study on displaced mud so please FundMe@lamanche.con

  4. November 18, 2016 8:06 pm

    An excellent rebuttal Paul.

    Carbon brief is of course run by the notorious Leo Hickman, ex-Grauniad and ex-WWF-uk, so nothing honest will come from the organisation. It has the gall to say on its website “We specialise in clear, data-driven articles and graphics”. It has a bunch of the worst warmists as contributing editors and is funded by the European Climate Foundation which has an annual budget of 34 million Euros which comes from the usual dubious sources.



  5. A C Osborn permalink
    November 18, 2016 8:30 pm

    Paul, not only will the heavy rains in the east impact the Thames tide levels (I used to live there by the way), but closing the barrier forces the water back down the Thames and makes them even higher downriver.

  6. November 18, 2016 9:18 pm

    “According to the PSMSL data, sea levels at Southend rose from 7088mm to 7117mm between 1999 and 2015. This equates to a rise of 1.81mm a year.”

    Well, no it doesn’t. In the first place, deducting a start value from an end value and dividing by the period length is totally invalid and open to cherry-picking, as you should know. In the second place, the period 1999 to 2015 spans 17 years, not the 16 you’ve used. The rate from monthly data for the 16 years 2000-2015 is 2.52 mm/year.

    • November 18, 2016 10:20 pm

      I only used 1999 as the start point because that is what the EA study chose.

      Secondly, the values are annual, so 16 years is correct, and not 17.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      November 19, 2016 6:40 am

      “2.52 mm/year.”

      Well let’s all just PANIC !!!!

      You are a very silly man, Tony !!

  7. November 18, 2016 9:42 pm – they may be constantly adjusting temperatures but they don’t appear to have adjusted the sea levels – unless someone knows better!

    • A C Osborn permalink
      November 19, 2016 5:58 pm

      Of course they have, they now quote Satellite rather than tide gauges in their “Headlines”, which have been changed a few times, even removing Satellites from the mix when they don’t give the answer they want.
      You can still dig out raw data though and check it for yourself, you can also find corrections for land dip as Paul did.

  8. CheshireRed permalink
    November 18, 2016 11:05 pm

    Just a normal day in climate-alarmism paradise. They spout wilful bullshit then someone with scruples comes along to put them straight. Acknowledgement comes there none. Same old, same old.

  9. tom0mason permalink
    November 19, 2016 5:23 am

    What’s not too like with a drowned London, just hope it happen immediately before the Thames freezes over again!

  10. manicbeancounter permalink
    November 19, 2016 9:56 am

    The danger with such analysis is that it can affect policy. In the case of public policy the false panic caused by the Carbon Brief could blight house prices of people living in the area. It has already happened for the small community of Fairbourne in West Wales. People who spent their entire life savings on retirement cottages are in now near worthless properties due to a report for the Welsh Government that was then blown out of proportion by the BBC. The solution there would be get a ruler, then measure from high tide level on the beach the height of projected sea level rise in say 50 years. In the case of Southend the false estimate is 9 inches.The true estimate based on historical data less than 2 inches, unless land is sinking generally in the area.

  11. RAH permalink
    November 19, 2016 10:51 am

    “But as is usually the case with alarmist scientists [and the news organs they choose to use] he has produced a highly misleading headline by using cherry picked data.”

    They are what they are and no data, facts, or reason will change them. All one can do is defeat them.

  12. mikewaite permalink
    November 19, 2016 11:53 am

    A recent (9th Oct 2016) paper in Geophysical Research Letters may be of interest to those who have not seen it yet :
    The title is :
    “Are long tide gauge records in the wrong place to measure global mean sea level rise?”

    and the comment on the feature includes the paragraphs:

    “The study found that this set of the best tide gauge records underestimates the rate of sea level rise due to melting of Northern Hemisphere glaciers and ice caps, which are thought to be the dominant source of melt during the 20th century. The analysis also showed that this negative bias is not likely to be overcome by contributions from ice sheet melt and ocean dynamics.

    As a result, the authors place a lower bound on 20th century sea level rise of about 1.4 millimeters per year during the 20th century, and the most likely “true” global rate was closer to 1.7 millimeters per year.”

    Thought it might be relevant to the discussion above

  13. November 19, 2016 5:25 pm

    This could be a new series: ‘Scary Headlines About [anything to do with climate] Don’t Stand Up To Scrutiny’ – because they never do.

  14. christopher booker permalink
    November 19, 2016 10:48 pm

    Well done Paul for yet another piece of fine scientific detective work. But the seeming puzzle over how Dr Simon Evans, the author of this bizarrely unscientific study, came by his title has thrown up for me a hilarious coincidence.
    The Carbon Brief website reveals that Dr Evans got his Phd from Bristol University in biochemistry. Until recently one of the neighbours in my small Somerset village was a professor of biochemistry at Bristol: a respected expert on enzymes but also a very vocal believer in man-made global warming.
    Some years back, when I was leading a campaign against a proposed local wind turbine, he was our most irate critic. He wrote to the local paper in favour of the proposed turbine, arguing that, unless we supported such efforts to halt disastrous climate change, rising sea levels would eventually submerge the Mendip hills on which we live. They currently rise to 1,000 feet above sea level.
    There seems to be something about the tea drunk in Bristol’s chemistry department which leads its inhabitants, outside their own speciality, to forget even the basic disciplines of scientific method.

    • Athelstan permalink
      November 20, 2016 12:49 am

      Green tea? or, more like he’d been liberally……. if you’ll excuse the pun – swigging from the green Kool Aid bottle, and somewhat akin to which, in the old days we’d sarcastically refer to, whoa! has he been at the Absinthe again?…. “brain rot grog”.

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      November 20, 2016 2:34 am

      Paul Ehrlich has a Ph. D. from the University of Kansas; speciality — Butterflies.
      Sometime after that the wheels started to come off his wagon.
      For example, see:

      As far as I know he has not been associated with Bristol University but likely drinks the same sort of tea.

  15. November 19, 2016 10:50 pm

    What exercised me about the EA 2100 project is that they appeared to be using (as in declared that they were in several places) the Met Office UKCP09 projections – which have, as I understand it – been found to be problematic ….

    The EA did *not* however expose the detail of their calculations relating to the height and extents of planned works but chose to plow ahead with PR and glossy brochures proclaiming to be saving London from climate change – all the while refusing to expose the technical foundation for their much trumpeted project.

    The EA published loads of PR “flack” for over 2 years before exposing the technical document. They are looking to keep the project on track and it’s my feeling that a PR offensive has been initiated – UK’s Channel 4 have apparently been running sea level scares too,

    I wish I had the time to run through the document and compare it to what actual observations are telling us about the risk being mitigated by the TE2100 project.

    Pointless boondoggle or a prudent and responsible precaution against natural events that have a high possibility of occurring?

    The rash of scare stories and a 24 month+ delay in the technical document bias me towards a perception that technical confidence isn’t high – so emotive exaggeration is being wheeled out and fired.

  16. November 19, 2016 11:10 pm

    UKCP 09 What is it? in 5 minutes.

    To be sooperceded by UKCP 18

    • clipe permalink
      November 20, 2016 1:01 am

      I think wordpress cache requires a click on the image to refresh/update

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      November 20, 2016 2:49 am

      On that site you can look at past years. Most are notably erratic. The reason appears to be the release and take-up of energy as water changes state.

      I don’t intend to panic, but others may wish to.

  17. November 20, 2016 1:57 pm

    I’ve emailed Dr Evans telling him he has misrepresented the data and he is a charlatan and a disgrace to science.

  18. Joe Public permalink
    November 20, 2016 8:12 pm

    Sunday 20th Nov 8pm

    Sim Evans has been active on Twitter today ~2pm & 6pm. Shame he’s not answering any of the tweets pointing out your debunking.


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