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How Did Those UKCP Sea Level Projections Work Out?

February 3, 2023

By Paul Homewood

It’s time to check out some of those whacky projection made in 2009 in the UK Climate Projections, published by DEFRA with the help of the Met Office.

Today I’ll look at sea levels:



This was the headline projection:


The numbers are measured against the 1980-99 baseline, so the 2040 projection effectively equated to a rise of 3.6mm a year, increasing to 4.5mm till 2080.

There is little tide gauge data from the Thames estuary, but we can get a good idea of how this prediction panned out by looking at North Shields. As the land is sinking in the South East, the predicted rise at North Shields was slightly less, but the UKCP interface conveniently provides that projections at the latter as well:


The database confirms a projected rise at North Shields of 45mm between 2007 and 2021, 3.2mm a year.

However the actual data shows that sea levels have only risen by 13mm during that time. As the graph indicated, there is nothing unusual about either the 2007 or 2021 datapoints, and while sea levels can fluctuate up and down the overall trend is already well below the DEFRA projections.


Far from admitting their error and making their projections more realistic, DEFRA and the Met Office have doubled down on their nonsense, and are now predicting sea level rise of 600mm in London, in their central case:


Hilary Benn, who presented the 2009 report as Secretary of State at DEFRA, used it as a lever for wide reaching policy changes. Given that these changes have been premised on a highly flawed report, it is time that public policy is amended accordingly.

  1. Nigel Sherratt permalink
    February 3, 2023 12:52 pm

    Sheerness perhaps (1.67mm/year)?

    The current real-time reading is 0.5 metres above predicted, not at all unusual. When my garden was half flooded on 6 December 2013 it was 1.0 metres above predicted. During ‘Storm Ciara’ on 9/10 February 2020 it was 1.8 metres below predicted and 0.85 metres above. All this puts 1.67mm/year into perspective. Previous real-time tide gauge readings can be found on this website.

  2. Nigel Sherratt permalink
    February 3, 2023 12:57 pm

    1.43mm/year at Tower Pier

    • Joe Public permalink
      February 3, 2023 11:15 pm

      For some reason, whenever I see a reference to PSMSL, I read it as the acronym for

      PisS MySelf Laughing. 😉

  3. February 3, 2023 1:03 pm

    Delete ‘projection’ and insert ‘tedious nonsense’.

  4. Sean Galbally permalink
    February 3, 2023 1:29 pm

    Why do we continue to listen to largely unqualified climate alarmists whose projections are rarely right. We should be listening to the many highly qualified independent academics who prove that climate change is NOT man made.

    • Malcolm Fraser permalink
      February 3, 2023 1:43 pm

      Quite so but these people ‘own’ the media!

    • Chris Phillips permalink
      February 3, 2023 3:42 pm

      Unfortunately we don’t get hear from properly qualified climate scientists because, if their conclusions are at all sceptical, they are either ignored by the media, or they daren’t voice them because that would end their career. Think of David Bellamy the former darling of the media who, ever since he voiced climate change sceptical views, has been cancelled.

      • Sean Galbally permalink
        February 3, 2023 4:07 pm

        It is not only the media. Many university courses and research are funded by vested interest sources such as China, Russia and India and big businesses provided they follow particular guidelines. Otherwise funding is withdrawn.

      • Edward Philip John Foster permalink
        February 6, 2023 3:22 pm

        Some years back Bellamy (sadly now dead) and Attenborough agreed that the CO2 hypothesis was wrong. Then Bellamy was sacked and Attenborough underwent a ‘conversion’ so as to keep those pay cheques coming in!

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 4, 2023 8:27 am

      Because the solutions people want that suit their political agendas require Alarmism, so only Alarmists get in the media. I find it extraordinary that majorities continue to believe that the media is “factual” or “truthful” on most issues.

  5. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 3, 2023 3:03 pm

    The evidence is that even RCP 2.6 predicts too high, but even RCP 8.5 is still being touted when the fear-campaign need to as Armageddon looks so close. . The RCP analyses prove that the modelling of radiant flux related to CO2 is a fallacy, as many sensible people have already realised. Their objective was to test models of increasing radiative flux related to CO2 against reality and none were close.

  6. Malcolm permalink
    February 3, 2023 3:05 pm

    The trouble with our legal system and the press is that if any of the well meaning but otherwise scientifically “insecure” academics and professionals so much as blink in admission of even slight error they will be absolutely crucified.
    Until the experts can be “allowed to be wrong” with some sympathy for trying to tell the truth and change their minds then we are stuck with these rubbish compiled higher and deeper from previous error.

    Someone said that science progresses “one funeral at a time”. Greenery looks like a clear example.

    • February 3, 2023 3:41 pm

      Someone said that science progresses “one funeral at a time”.

      Not anymore, now Peer Reviewed Consensus Alarmism is taught in all the schools. Dozens of PHDs who are supposed to be new scientists, have been indoctrinated to enforce the Political Consensus.

      These new PHDs, cannot be called any kind of scientist because they have been taught to NOT Question any opinion handed down by the WEF or the CCP.

      Real Scientists now have to be self taught, and learn to protect themselves from the vicious attacks from the rich and powerful elites.

      • Malcolm permalink
        February 3, 2023 3:53 pm

        Again yes.
        There is a rainstorm of PhDs, “awarded” for all manner of trivia to lost souls who have no idea what else to do with their lives but hang on in “education” as long as possible. Not discovering anything radical is a virtue. Not being called Doctor is quite exceptional these days.

        But then, how else are the universities to make a living?

        In the meantime, let us find the autodidacts who are truly breaking new ground (not that the greens would approve of that!)

      • dave permalink
        February 3, 2023 8:12 pm

        The (then) new-fangled degree of PhD was derided as pompous nonsense when it started to seep out from Germany, in the late 19th Century. It simply meant that you had spent more time in intellectual nappies than you should have.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 4, 2023 8:36 am

      The experts cannot get wrong because the media decide who is an expert based on what they say, not whether they are right. Look at the recent interviews on CNN of Ehrlich, a man so wrong about literally everything he should be laughed out of town. But he’s treated with reverence because he says what the media want to hear said. Look at Covid: virologist and public health experts at least as well-qualified as the chosen experts were vilified because they argued against the chosen narrative of lockdown. Same with Brexit the last few weeks: multi-year forecasts of GDP treated as fact rather than the fiction they actually are. And let’s not forget the Remainer predictions of food riots, super-gonorrhea and Airbus, Nissan and the City all leaving if we voted Leave. None happened but now the same experts are trotted out. We are lied to about everything every day.

  7. 2hmp permalink
    February 3, 2023 3:06 pm

    These people are not driven by scientific evidence but by political ideology. (include most civil servants in that category)

    • Malcolm permalink
      February 3, 2023 3:39 pm

      Yes 2hmp, this is of course a contemporary religion binding a large number of people whose lives I suppose to have been a disappointment and they need to blame someone – and industry and what they uninformably think is capitalism.

      Its key leaders are clear examples. Roger Hallam failed as a small agriculturalist (through no fault of his own, I read!) and wants us all to become such New Arcadians failing to farm our own plots.

      So as a politics it fails as a strategy on day one: which of us wants to follow in his failure?

      One thing for sure which tempts me to support them is that their ambition will directly lead to a collapse in world population through disease and starvation, which will be a good thing for the other planetary occupants! Provided of course that it doesn’t kill my family or me!!!

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 4, 2023 8:38 am

      Exactly. If the solutions to climate change were lower taxes and a smaller state, climate change would be a fringe theory most laughed at.

  8. February 3, 2023 4:04 pm

    Ever noticed that those of the “sky is falling & the sea is rising” alarmists are buying up ocean front property??? Al Gore, Barack Obama…..

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      February 3, 2023 4:28 pm

      Hi Joan, I genuinely don’t think it is only the super rich or elites. Here in South East England there are multiple brand new mid price range properties being built not just near the beach but actually, on the beach (apologies to Nevil Shute) where there has never been any building before.
      It really doesn’t seem like too many people are that fussed about SLR

    • mikewaite permalink
      February 4, 2023 8:59 am

      Joan . If you have a desire to live by the sea at Sandbanks in glorious Poole Bay in the English Channel , there is a plot of land , situated at about sea level , for a mere £7 million . Adjacent properties, within cms of high tide are at £8 million plus. Either the wealthy in England have the power denied to Canute to halt the rise in sea level , or they simply don’t believe the nonsense from the UK Govt/BBC etc . And of course they probably did not get so wealthy by being stupid.

      • February 4, 2023 11:51 am

        I have never been a seashore person….get tired of salt and sand in a hurry. Were I to look for a vacation place, it would be a cottage on/near a lake.

        But I live on the 5-acres where I grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia. My parents bought part of an old farm with the house and barn in 1937. Daddy planted a lot of trees and I still have 2 large meadows to mow in addition to the lawn. Over the years, daddy and my 2 older brothers brought in a lot of native wildflowers. Then I joined daddy in the project. I became a plant taxonomist/ecologist and finally a PhD in Plant Ecosystems. It is my own vacation spot.

  9. frankobaysio permalink
    February 3, 2023 4:27 pm

    Tonight Friday 3rd Feb at 7.30pm on BBC 2 Amol Rajan interviews Bill Gates apparently including a conversation on Climate Change. …. talk about unqualified Climate Scientists ….? Following Rajan’s 45 minutes daily Radio 4 Climate alarmist propaganda show two weeks ago it might be a bit one sided…

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      February 3, 2023 4:30 pm

      “interviews Bill Gates” Translation….”follows the money”

    • February 3, 2023 5:14 pm

      Should be aired at 1030pm for insomniacs 😴

  10. Adam Gallon permalink
    February 3, 2023 5:18 pm

    Data from March 1933, 1.23 +/- .19mm/year.
    Let’s call it 5 inches/ a century.

    • Max Beran permalink
      February 3, 2023 7:20 pm

      That site lets you fit a quadratic which turns out to have a negative coefficient implying progressive flattening. However the coefficient is small (probably insignificantly different from zero) and has little impact over the time horizon of interest. But it doesn’t support what had been the IPCC’s settled view that the SLR gradient steepens over time. As I recall this was the position pushed by Church, the chapter lead author of the time, and largely on the basis of his own analysis. I haven’t chased the matter since so unaware of the latest position (and life is short).

  11. February 3, 2023 5:31 pm

    Look at the Thames Barrier info on sea level rise:

    In a January 2013 letter to The Times, a former member of the Thames Barrier Project Management Team, Dr Richard Bloore, stated that it was not designed with increased storminess and sea level rises in mind, and called for a new barrier to be looked into immediately. The Environment Agency responded that it did not plan to replace the Thames Barrier before 2070, as it was designed with an allowance for sea level rise of 8 mm (0.31 in) per year, which has not happened in the latest report they are using intervening years. At the time, the barrier was around halfway through its designed lifespan. The standard of protection it provides will gradually decline over time after 2030, from a 1-in-1000-year event. The Environment Agency is examining the Thames Barrier for its potential design life under climate change, with early indications being that subject to appropriate modification, the Thames Barrier will be capable of providing continued protection to London against rising sea levels.
    But if you go to the current report (Thames Estuary 2100) they now say:

    -sea level in the Thames Estuary has been rising over the last century – mean sea level at Southend-on-Sea has risen by approximately 15 cm between 1911 and 2018 (relative to land level)
    -this is similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) ‘likely’ range for global mean sea level rise
    -sea level rise in the estuary has accelerated over the last few decades – sea level rose by about 1.4 mm per year (on average) between 1911 and 2018, relative to land level versus 3.6 mm per year between 1990 and 2018
    -these rates of sea level rise are similar to the IPCC’s ‘very likely’ range of global mean sea level rise
    -new UK climate projections (UKCP18) have been published since the Plan was developed – we are using the highest rate of sea level rise from these projections for the 10-Year Review

    Sorry that went on a bit too long !

    David Tallboys

  12. avro607 permalink
    February 3, 2023 6:48 pm

    David-where is the tide guage sited in the Thames Estuary?

    • February 3, 2023 7:18 pm

      There’s one at Southend and another across the river at Sheerness

  13. avro607 permalink
    February 3, 2023 6:53 pm

    Not knowing where the Pier is,ive just googled it.OOPS again.

  14. Gamecock permalink
    February 3, 2023 7:46 pm

    If the water gets too high, people will move.

    • Dave Fair permalink
      February 3, 2023 8:53 pm

      Or slowly adapt their infrastructure, as has been Man’s wont.

      • Gamecock permalink
        February 3, 2023 9:43 pm

        Nah. With 60 years notice – doesn’t matter how much notice – they’ll wait til the last minute.

  15. M E permalink
    February 3, 2023 11:49 pm

    I will bore you to death again with my advice to look at land movements with regard to sea level rises
    Not all movement up or down is earthquake related.
    C oasts dip or rise because land moves. Maybe depression by heavy icesheets pushed down or tilted land masses.
    Land moves . Plates grind against each other .

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 4, 2023 10:45 am

      Yes, all the speculation is based on the ridiculous notion that the oceans are a fixed basin.

      Is the glass half full, or half empty? The glass keeps changing size.

  16. Stephen Lord permalink
    February 4, 2023 7:04 am

    Forecast was 45 mm rise. Actual rise 13mm. Conclusion. Theory is wrong.

    • February 4, 2023 7:44 am

      There is so much evidence the carbon dioxide theory of global warming is wrong – yet straight forward points such as yours are just ignored or shouted down with “heretic” or “denier”. It is bizarre.

      1940 to 1975 – global cooling – leading to the press headlines about a new ice age – e.g. Times front page 1st December 1976 (see: )

      1975-2015 – global warming leading to hysteria and Net Zero

      2015 to now – a pause

      But all the time carbon dioxide levels have increased – how can it cool and warm and pause ? Whatever is causing most of the warming/cooling/pausing – it isn’t carbon dioxide.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        February 4, 2023 8:52 am

        They claim that natural variability is large but they can still detect the CO2 signal. But that’s nonsense. The signal doesn’t exist in the data. There’s step changes in temperature but any “trend” is simply manufactured.

      • Gamecock permalink
        February 4, 2023 10:54 am

        A graph comparing CO2 concentration and (supposed*) global mean temperature since 1979 shows NO correlation whatsoever.

        This doesn’t necessarily falsify the notion of CO2 caused warming. But, even it doesn’t, it shows that other factors dwarf any CO2 effect.

        *Man has no way to measure GMT. It’s all estimates.

    • February 5, 2023 4:45 pm

      Correct, Stephen. To put it bluntly, there is simply no physical mechanism whereby increasing CO2 in the atmosphere can significantly effect a global temperature change.

  17. Phoenix44 permalink
    February 4, 2023 8:54 am

    Forecasts are wrong so we just plough on regardless and make forecasts that are higher than the originals that were too high.


  18. February 5, 2023 4:41 pm

    There is a very simple reason why observed tide gauge data differ from either model projections and/or satellite data.
    The satellite data is based on mid-ocean readings which are measured against a geodetic baseline – basically a blanket measurement. The IPCC projections are partly based (40%) on thermal expansion, but based on the assumption that sea level rise is the same all over the oceans. Unfortunately for both sets of so-called ‘data’, there is no measurable thermal expansion at the coastline because there is no significant depth of water to show an expansion. If you warm the ocean by 1 degrees C (and we’re nowhere near that), the centre of the basin may expand (only upwards) by a few centimetres but the coastal water won’t expand by even a hundredth of that (in fact, zero at a beach!). So there is no cause for alarm, as can be seen by the coastal data. It’s a scientific scam based on a false assumption.

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