History falsifies climate alarmist sea level claims

  • pisatower

Sea levels are rising rapidly! Coastal communities are becoming more vulnerable to storms and storm surges! Small island nations are going to disappear beneath the waves!

National Geographic rising seasClimate alarmists have been making these claims for years, trying to tie them to events like “Superstorm” Sandy, which was below Category 1 hurricane strength when it struck New York City in October 2012, and Typhoon Haiyan, which plowed into the low-lying central Philippines in November 2013.

For alarmists, it does not seem to matter that the strength and frequency of tropical storms have been decreasing in recent years, while the rate of sea level rise has fallen to about 7 inches per century. Nor does it seem to matter that the lost lives and property have little to do with the storms’ sheer power.

Their destructive impact was caused by their hitting heavily populated areas, where governments had not adequately informed citizens of the size and ferocity of imminent storm surges, too few people had evacuated – and people, buildings and emergency equipment were insufficiently prepared to withstand the furious storm onslaughts.

The alarmist cries are not meant to be honest or factual. They are intended to generate hysterical headlines, public anxiety about climate change, and demands for changes in energy policies and use.

China is rapidly becoming one of the richest nations on Earth. It is by far the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide, which alarmists claim is causing “unprecedented” storms and sea level rise. And yet at the recent UN-sponsored climate talks in Warsaw, China led a walkout of 132 Third World countries that claim First World nations owe them hundreds of billions of dollars in “reparations” for “losses and damages” allegedly resulting from CO2 emissions.

The Obama Administration brought (perhaps “bought” is more apt) them back to the negotiating table, by promising as-yet-unspecified U.S. taxpayer money for those supposed losses. Details for this unprecedented giveaway will be hammered out at the 2015 UN-sponsored climate confab in Paris, safely after the 2014 U.S. mid-term elections. Meanwhile, a little history will be instructive.

In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama proclaimed, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow.” He was actually right. Sea level rise has slowed, but not because of CO2 emissions, which are still increasing. Mother Nature cannot be bought.

Sea level changes over relatively recent geologic and human history demonstrate that alarmist claims do not withstand scrutiny. Sea levels rose significantly after the last ice age, fell during the Little Ice Age (LIA), and have been rising again since the LIA ended around 1850. In fact, Roman Empire and Medieval port cities are now miles from the Mediterranean, because sea levels actually fell during the Little Ice Age.

glaciersDuring the deepest part of the last ice age, known as the Wisconsin, sea levels were about 400 feet lower than at present. As Earth emerged from the Wisconsin some 18,000 years ago and the massive ice sheets started to melt, sea levels began rising. Rapid sea level rise during the “meltwater pulse phase,” about 15,000 years ago, was roughly5 meters (16 feet) per century – but then slowed significantly since the Holocene Climate Optimum, about 8,000 years ago.

Those rising oceans created new ports for Greek and Roman naval and trade vessels. But today many of those structures and ruins are inland, out in the open, making them popular tourist destinations. How did that happen? The Little Ice Age once again turned substantial ocean water into ice, lowering sea levels, and leaving former ports stranded. Not enough ice has melted since 1850 to make them harbors again.

The ancient city of Ephesus was an important port city and commercial hub from the Bronze Age to the Minoan Warm period, and continuing through the Roman Empire. An historic map shows its location right on the sea. But today, in modern-day Turkey, Ephesus is 5 km from the Mediterranean. Some historians erroneously claim “river silting” caused the change, but the real “culprit” was sea level change.

Ruins of the old Roman port Ostia Antica, are extremely well preserved – with intact frescoes, maps, and plans. Maps from the time ostiashow the port located at the mouth of the Tiber River, where it emptied into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Battle of Ostia in 849, depicted in a painting attributed to Raphael, shows sea level high enough for warships to assemble at the mouth of the Tiber. However, today this modern-day tourist destination is 2 miles up-river from the mouth of the Tiber. Sea level was significantly higher in the Roman Warm Period than today.

An important turning point in British history occurred in 1066, when William the Conqueror defeated King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. Less well-known is that, when William landed, he occupied an old Roman fort now known as Pevensey Castle, which at the time was located on a small island in a harbor on England’s south coast. A draw bridge connected it to the mainland.

Pevensey is infamous because unfortunate prisoners were thrown into this “Sea Gate,” so that their bodies would be washed away by the tide. Pevensey Castle is now a mile from the coast – further proof of a much higher sea level fewer than 1000 years ago.

Before modern Italy, the region was dominated by the famous City States of the Mediterranean, among which is Pisa, with its picturesque Cathedral Square and famous Leaning Tower. Located near the mouth of the Arno River, Pisa was a powerful city, because maritime trade brought goods from sailing ships right into the port. Its reign ended after 1300 AD, the onset of the Little Ice Age, when sea levels fell and ships could no longer sail to her port. Once again, some say “river silting” was the cause.

However, Pisa is now 7 miles from the Tyrrhenian Sea, with large meanders upstream from Pisa and little meandering downstream. When a river is “at grade,” the downstream gradient is as low as possible, as with the meandering Mississippi River and delta in Louisiana. Rivers with a strong downstream gradient flow to the sea in a direct route, with few meanders, as with the Rio Grande in New Mexico.

The facts of history are clear. Sea level was 400 feet lower at the end of the Wisconsin Ice Age, 18,000 years ago. Sea levels rose rapidly until 8,000 years ago. As recently as 1066, when the Normans conquered England, sea levels were quite a bit higher than today.

During the Little Ice Age, 1300 to 1850 – when temperatures were the coldest during any time in the past 10,000 years – snow and ice accumulated in Greenland, Antarctica, Europe, and glaciers worldwide. As a consequence, sea levels fell so much that important Roman Era and Medieval port cities (like Ephesus, Ostia Antica and Pisa) were left miles from the Mediterranean.

Since the Little Ice Age ended about 160 years ago, tide gauges show that sea level has risen at a steady rate – with no correlation to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Sea level is a dynamic property in our planet’s climate cycles, which are closely linked to changes in solar energy output and other natural factors. It is unlikely to change in response to tax policies that make energy more expensive and economies less robust – no matter what politicians in Washington, Brussels, or the United Nations might say.

Much to their chagrin, Mother Nature doesn’t listen to them. She has a mind of her own.


About the Author: Robert Endlich

Robert W. Endlich served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years and a U.S. Army meteorologist for 17 years. He was elected to Chi Epsilon Pi, the national Meteorology Honor Society, while a basic meteorology student at Texas A&M University. He has degrees in geology and meteorology from Rutgers University and the Pennsylvania State University, respectively, and has studied and visited the ancient sites of Rome, Ostia Antica, and Pisa.

  • http://www.sealevel.info/ Dave Burton

    It is true that the rate of sea level rise hasn’t increased in response to anthropogenic greenhouse gasses (“GHGs,” mostly CO2 & methane (CH4)). It is also true that some medieval ports are now far from the seashore; I’ve been to old Ephesus and seen that for myself.

    But careful analysis of averaged data from the best long term tide gauges indicates that there WAS a bit of acceleration in the average rate of sea level rise from the mid-1800s until about 1930.

    You can see that acceleration in some of the best long term tide gauge records, though not all of them. But it is present in enough of them to be detectable in the average. So it’s not really accurate to say that sea level rise has been steady for 160 years. It has been steady for more than 80 years, but not for 160.

    Nor is it accurate to say that sea level rise has slowed — not significantly, anyhow. That’s what the satellite altimetry data says, but it is not reliable. The coastal tide gauge records are far more trustworthy, and, aside from well-known oscillatory patterns (the oceans slosh!), they show an almost exactly linear (and glacially slow) trend.

    Nevertheless, since by far the greatest part of all of the anthropogenic GHG emissions in human history have occurred since WWII (i.e., in the last 2/3 century), and since there’s been no increase in the rate of sea level rise during that time, it is safe to say that anthropogenic GHG emissions have not caused any detectable increase in the rate of sea level rise.

    There’s a lot more info about sea level here: http://www.sealevel.info/

    Also, if you want to understand why the satellite altimetry data (which seems to show a slowing of sea level rise) is unreliable, I recommend that you watch this lecture by Physicist Willie Soon. Dr. Soon explains the problems with satellite measurement of sea level better than anyone I’ve ever seen, starting here:


    That segment of his lecture is 24 minutes long, starting at the 17:37 point. The link should take you directly to 17:37. But, actually, I recommend watching the whole 58 minute lecture at least once. I promise, you’ll learn a lot.

  • John Oh

    Since reading a book I borrowed from the local library in 1991, I have been quite aware of scientist’s being dependent on research grants. The book called “the greenhouse trap” by John L. Daly warned of these climate research claims being non issues. Al Gore had me believing for a while, then things were being revealed that didnt add up.

    John Daly died due to a heart attack a few years ago. Phil Jones, one of the so called researchers mentioned in an email which was hacked from a website with a whole host of information that ” “… in an odd way this is cheering news” he was relieved John had died. http://tinyurl.com/johndalyCC — Jones, being exposed as a fraudster you would almost expect this.
    John Daly’s Website is still open and the information is still relevant
    http://www.john-daly.com/dalybio.htm Pass it on. There is much more at http://www.wangarattacity.com my website..

    • Nikki Moonitz-Volaski

      Ike warned us about this:

  • Andrew Miller

    great article! history is a pesky little thing isn’t it?

  • stevor

    I’m curious how many measurements they use to determine how much oceans rise/drop. There’s this funny thing, continental drift, that proves that continents move sideways and unless they check a lot of points, when they say the oceans rose, they’d have to prove that the continents didn’t subside.

    • David Chorley

      Continental drift is massively slow, in the order of a millimetre per year, also subduction zones are easily identifiable, whereas ocean level changes are measutable at points that are not subduction zones

      • stevor

        the measurements are made in relation to what? The ocean that varies in height from the moon and variations in air pressure? From satellites?

  • Sharpshooter

    (Caption) The site of the battle today: the road to the right is built on reclaimed land and approximates the 480 BC shoreline.

    What’s it (the shoreline) doing way over there on the right?