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« Venting and venting | Main | The GISS graph mystery »

More alarmist than thou

A new paper on sea-level rise by Grinsted et al is currently doing the rounds, with horror stories about what the future holds in store being touted to newspapers across Europe. The authors have provided a list of the "probable" levels of sea-level rise in major European capitals, a step that editors no doubt find extremely helpful.

The University of Delft, home to some of the paper's authors, has a blog post on the findings. It's typical of the genre, reporting a rise of 0.83m for The Hague and generally trying to drum up a bit of excitement. The paper itself is entitled `Sea level rise projections for northern Europe under RCP8.5', so it's fairly clear that it's exploring outlier scenarios. As if to emphasise the point, there's this quote from Grinsted himself:

Our probability distribution also takes some of the more pessimistic opinions regarding the situation in Antarctica into account.’

But you could come away with a different impression: RCP8.5 touted is in the blog post as:

"a business-as-usual scenario – the situation where globally no restrictive measures are imposed to structurally limit CO2 emissions".

without any mention of RCP8.5's business-as-unusual shift from gas to coal, the surge in population way above official projections and the fictional carbon-cycle feedbacks.

And of course, by the time the newspapers get hold of the story, you are definitely going to come away with a different impression. The paper was picked up this weekend in the Irish editions of the Sunday Times, where the findings were embellished with a headline about a "monster climate event". The paper also wheeled out one of the usual suspects  to comment on it: Professor John Sweeney, who opines that although Grinsted at al report 0.69m by 2100 for Dublin, there is a 5% chance of 1.63m. Not wanting to be outdone, Grinsted et al up the bidding to a 1% chance of 2.29m, rounding off with a claim that they can get up to 4.89m by adding in a storm surge.

I wonder if Professor Sweeney can up the bidding still further?

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Reader Comments (54)

They make it up as they go along.

Models (unvalidated) built on models (unvalidated) and so ad infinitum

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:08 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Even in Medieval times (with all that warmth), the Dutch were expert at coping with life below sea level and could generally survive storms. It's a pity that in our modern unenlightened times it seems our technology is no longer capable of handling a bit of excess water (if you believe garbage computer output).

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:18 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The appropriate response would be to call for them to be sacked.
Psyentists, journalists and rent-an-expert.

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

I've seen a remarkable decline in these kinds of stories. Which makes me think we have now reached the stage where the more people talk about climate or worse look into the issue the more they realise what a load of nonsense it all is and how much it is costing them.

But they've got the politicians and public into the habit of just dolling out the money to the scamsters without thinking about it any longer - despite the way the evidence has all gone against the scam recently.

So the scamsters know their number is up and the best way to keep milking this cash cow for as long as possible is to stop the public & politicians thinking about it too much.

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:55 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

According to my calculation, this 1.8m requires the Antarctica ice to melt at a rate of slightly over 1 metre per year. Since there is little or no evidence of this happening, I venture to suggest that there is no likelihood of floods in Dublin.

Where it is a matter of estimating the amount of water on the brain, I leave it to experts.

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

...I wonder if Professor Sweeney can up the bidding still further?...

That's nothing! I can get a surge of around 1km high, simply by postulating a large asteroid landing in the Atlantic... Oh, wait, there's no money available for that kind of natural catastrophe...?

Jun 29, 2015 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Dodgy Geezer
I'll raise you:-

BBC's Megatsunami
during an eruption at some unascertained future date, the western half of the Cumbre Vieja—approximately 500 km3 (5 x 1011 m3) with an estimated mass of 1.5 x 1015 kg—will catastrophically fail in a massive gravitational landslide and enter the Atlantic Ocean, generating a so-called 'mega-tsunami'. The debris will continue to travel along the ocean floor as a debris flow. Computer modelling indicates that the resulting initial wave may attain a local amplitude (height) in excess of 600 metres (2,000 ft) and an initial peak to peak height that approximates to 2 kilometres (1 mi), and travel at about 720 kilometres per hour (450 mph) (approximately the speed of a jet aircraft), inundating the African coast in about 1 hour, the southern coast of Great Britain in about 3.5 hours, and the eastern seaboard of North America in about 6 hours, by which time the initial wave will have subsided into a succession of smaller ones each about 30 metres (100 ft) to 60 metres (200 ft) high. These may surge to several hundred metres in height and be several kilometres apart while retaining their original speed. The models of Day et al.[8] and Ward and Day[10] suggest that the event could inundate up to 25 kilometres (16 mi) inland.

Jun 29, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

The kids in the pub on Friday were already brainwashed "Venice is getting destroyed by rapidly rising sealevel caused by Climate Change ...and those Pacific islands as well ...their governemts are having to make plans to resettle their populations. "
- I replied that Venice is sinking ..and coral islands rise with sea level so some one is playing political games ..aswell as other factors having a big play like water use draining water. causng sinking

Jun 29, 2015 at 11:09 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Sometimes they don't just jump the shark*, they take her out for dinner and a dance first.

*and I only use that American phrase, instead of a perfectly suitable English one, just to get a cheap laugh.

Jun 29, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Sea level rise scientists, are just seeking pay level rise parity with climate scientists.

Increased scary stupidity = more money

The greatest threat they face, comes from people pointing this out.

This very simple problem, can be dealt with, using a very simple solution.

Jun 29, 2015 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

# SandyS

Yes that might have been on the Alarmist BBC but the study is valid. I have a copy. The paper is by Ward and Day about edifice collapse at La Palma, Canaries. Geological evidence on the sea floor to the west of La Palma show that this has happened before several times. The edifice is now very unstable so is actually overdue. Evidence on the east coast of America is also present showing that a tsunami ran several miles inland, 20-30. 500Km^3 is actually the average of the previous failure spills on the sea floor.

The BBC figures are all from the paper which is available on the internet with free download.

Cambre Vieja Volcano---Potential Collapse and Tsunami at La Palma, Canaries. Ward and Day. 2001

Jun 29, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

TinyCO2, but with improbable sea level rise, the number of restaurants available for sea level rise experts to entertain sharks will be vastly increased, along with their chances of a jump beyond their wildest imaginations.

Jun 29, 2015 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Without doubt, at some point in the future, on the volcanic islands named the Canaries - a major slope failure will happen. It is a potential disaster for the seaboard of western Europe, N. Africa and all points west............maybe. To ignore the threat is folly but neither can we predict it with any certainty - so it's a known unknown.

What is known..........Meanwhile, there is no sign of Greenland melting anytime soon nor, is there even any remote possibility of Anarctica doing the same, thus apart from minor fluctuations in SL and isostatic readjustment - WHAT IS THE BLOODY PROBLEM?

Jun 29, 2015 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.


I'll raise you:-

... the western half of the Cumbre Vieja...will catastrophically fail in a massive gravitational landslide and enter the Atlantic Ocean, generating a so-called 'mega-tsunami'. ... the resulting initial wave may attain a local amplitude (height) in excess of 600 metres (2,000 ft) and an initial peak to peak height that approximates to 2 kilometres (1 mi), and travel at about 720 kilometres per hour (450 mph)...

Damn! Looks like you'll get more grants than I will. Any room on your research team for a specialist in beaches in the Canary Islands...?

Jun 29, 2015 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Nothing will do the "mission" as much harm as this kind of nonsensical publications. Climate warm-mongering has lost popular support. Regular folk are still afraid to speak up, true, but they no longer believe a thing they hear.

Jun 29, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

The rising climate of fear could be struck with an impact, of biblical proportions in Paris, during December 2015.

After the event, students of Nostradamus, will find this clearly referenced in his work, and far more accurately than climate change scaremonger predictions.

Jun 29, 2015 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

@John Marshall

Yes that might have been on the Alarmist BBC but the study is valid. I have a copy. The paper is by Ward and Day about edifice collapse at La Palma, Canaries...</I>

It's a 'valid' paper in the sense of being a coherent hypothetical projection, but there have been a number of equally valid contradictory responses to it - suggesting both that the current geology does not lend itself to a complete collapse, and that the proposed wave would not propagate across the Atlantic. Murty et al. (2005), for instance.

Who knows who is right? Until it happens we can't tell...

Jun 29, 2015 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

A few years ago, I made an effort to get Grinsted to engage with Eschenbach on WUWT. He was worried that people would be "rude" to him. Then he started a response with "man up, Willis!"

He had recently bought a flat in the low-lying Amager district in Copenhagen, and was worried that he would be flooded. You might ask what kind of idiot would do that, if he genuinely thought that the seas would rise so much.

So either he believes the tosh that bears his name, and is an idiot. Or he is a liar. Man up, Aslak! Tell us which.

Jun 29, 2015 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterjolly farmer

Brute, its not the common people the the warmists have to convince. They only have to convince politicians there's a vote in it.

Jun 29, 2015 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

@golf charlie

...The rising climate of fear could be struck with an impact, of biblical proportions in Paris, during December 2015.
After the event, students of Nostradamus, will find this clearly referenced in his work...

Have you got the quatrain reference?

Jun 29, 2015 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

@AGrinsted Tweets like an alarmist activist

BTW Radio 4 just had FoE arguing against Drax
Dr Slade of Imperial -introduced
Kenneth Richter FoE .."need to replace DIRTY fossil fuels like coal etc. with nice clean Wind/Solar..nasty gov is cutting subsidies"
.. as usual hydro or other low carbon is not mentioned ..only subsidy mafia
Matthew Rivers Drax .. 'we are baseload and demand responsive that complements wind/solar'
..interview cut short

Jun 29, 2015 at 12:41 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

"Have you got the quatrain reference?"

Dodgy - if it's prognosticating alarmist loonies you wish to reference, starting with that chump in the White House - how many do you want me to name? Plus, sucking on the public sector teat - there is a whole tribe of them down Exeter [MO] way..............


Jun 29, 2015 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.


"gravitational landslide"

As opposed to..?

Jun 29, 2015 at 1:00 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Here is the abstract for the earlier Grinsted paper:


Sea level rise over the coming centuries is perhaps the most damaging side of rising temperature (Anthoff et al., 2009). The economic costs and social consequences of coastal flooding and forced migration will probably be one of the dominant impacts of global warming (Sugiyama et al., 2008). To date, however, few studies (Nicholls et al., 2008; Anthoff et al., 2009) on infrastructure and socio-economic planning include provision for multi-century and multi-metre rises in mean sea level. Here we use a physically plausible sea level model constrained by observations, and forced with four new Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) radiative forcing scenarios (Moss et al., 2010) to project median sea level rises of 0.57 for the lowest forcing and 1.10 m for the highest forcing by 2100 which rise to 1.84 and 5.49 m respectively by 2500. Sea level will continue to rise for several centuries even after stabilisation of radiative forcing with most of the rise after 2100 due to the long response time of sea level. The rate of sea level rise would be positive for centuries, requiring 200–400 years to drop to the 1.8 mm/yr 20th century average, except for the RCP3PD which would rely on geoengineering."

And here for this 2015 one:

"ABSTRACT: Sea level rise poses a significant threat to coastal communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Sea level rise is not uniform globally but is affected by a range of regional factors. In this study, we calculate regional projections of 21st century sea level rise in northern Europe, focusing on the British Isles, the Baltic Sea, and the North Sea. The input to the regional sea level projection is a probabilistic projection of the major components of the global sea level budget. Local sea level rise is partly compensated by vertical land movement from glacial isostatic adjustment. We explore the uncertainties beyond the likely range provided by the IPCC, including the risk and potential rate of marine ice sheet collapse. Our median 21st century relative sea level rise projection is 0.8 m near London and Hamburg, with a relative sea level drop of 0.1 m in the Bay of Bothnia (near Oulu, Finland). Considerable uncertainties remain in both the sea level budget and in the regional expression of sea level rise. The greatest uncertainties are associated with Antarctic ice loss, and uncertainties are skewed towards higher values, with the 95th percentile being characterized by an additional 0.9 m sea level rise above median projections."

It's "projections" all the way down.

Jun 29, 2015 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterjolly farmer

Dodgy Geezer, EVERYTHING bad, must be blamed on global warming, and all of it may be deciphered from every quatrain of Nostradamus, if your financial greed and imagination are synchronised with the bowel movements of Mother Earth.

Jun 29, 2015 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

jamesp, due to global warming, the probability of anti-gravitational up slides, has increased by incalculable factors.

This cannot be proved false, and is therefore correct.

Jun 29, 2015 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


We if you refuse to study the evidence then it will never happen. The evidence, not refuted, shows that it has happened before and will happen again. When is not known but:-

The edifice is currently unstable, bits fall off occasionally.

Past timings show a regular collapse and the current failure is overdue.

The Spanish government have instituted regular inspections and GPS monitoring.

Jun 29, 2015 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

@JF "He had recently bought a flat in the low-lying Amager district in Copenhagen"
That'll be in Denmark : On 28 June, Lars Løkke Rasmussen's Venstre Party assumed office
(Its a minority gov, but rightwing parties have more that 50% of seats)

Heres some quotes from an April 2015 article
"Venstre, says it wishes to revoke Denmark’s 2050 climate goals that would make the country 100% fossil free "

“We want green realism in the energy policy, so goals and means fit together. We must be ambitious without putting us so far ahead that the other countries are loosing us from sight,” the climate and energy spokesperson from Venstre, Lars Lilleholt, recently about party’s turnaround.

The far right party Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party) and the libertarian party, Liberal Alliance, are also skeptical about spending money on climate stabilizing technologies and solutions. They claim it is too expensive and that it prevents Denmark from being internationally competitive.

Jun 29, 2015 at 1:43 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

scary headline = more grant funding , quality of data simply not important.

The authors are merely acting in-line with the 'normal' culture of the area , the fact that the 'normal' culture of the area produces awful 'science' while rewarded both poor personal and professional pratice, is another problem.

Jun 29, 2015 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

I want to make a model that proves that climate change could hasten the collapse of Cambre Vieja Volcano.

Send cash.

Jun 29, 2015 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus


You may be late: Climate forcing of volcano lateral collapse:evidence from Mount Etna, Sicily

Note: while I think the original Cumbre Vieja study is a proper geological study, this second paper at the PTRS is opportunistic nonsense based of extremely fable evidence and full of mights and may bes.

Jun 29, 2015 at 2:35 PM | Registered CommenterPatagon

By coincidence I have just read about a bom hoax in Exeter. What is the difference? How about giving the editor of the Times an appropriate 'hoax' jail sentence?

Jun 29, 2015 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

@John Marshall


We (sic) if you refuse to study the evidence then it will never happen. The evidence, not refuted, shows that it has happened before and will happen again. ...

It should have been fairly obvious from the fact that I cited a paper disagreeing with Ward and Day (2001) that I HAVE studied the evidence, and I wonder why you don't seem to be aware that, while it is agreed that the western flank of Cumbre Vieja has collapsed in the past, and probably will in the future, there is disagreement about:

1 - whether the collapse will be total and sudden, or whether it will be gradual
2 - whether a total collapse would indeed produce a pulse capable of causing damage beyond the local area.

...which is the gist of my comment. My comment did NOT say that this collapse has not happened, or will not happen again - this is an assertion that you have claimed that I have made, and this is not true.

Jun 29, 2015 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

John Marshall 1:40, ...... it is currently unstable and has collapsed before.......

The Spanish Government have continued to monitor their economy too. The Greeks also have a Finance Minister ........

Jun 29, 2015 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Steve 2:48 bom hoax Exeter

Is that like the succession of Bureau Of Meteorology hoaxes that have damaged the Australian economy and political minds.

Jun 29, 2015 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I see with alarm that prices for multi-million pound homes at Sandbanks in Dorset are tumbling through fears of sea-level rises.................................NOT! When they do, I will then panic, but not until then!

Jun 29, 2015 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

At the top it reads 'Contribution to CR Special 30 'Effects of extreme global warming in northern Europe’
So, horror science fiction: "What if the RCP 8.5 worst case scenario under median CMIP5 responce came true?"

Short answer: it won't happen!

Jun 29, 2015 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterHans Erren

Thing is, these are all less than the amounts that people are being taught in schools. Ask a college student about sea level rise from global warming, and you are likely to be told something along the lines of Big Ben underwater.

Jun 29, 2015 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

Golf Charlie.

Thanks, I guess You could have a BOM bomb hoax. Postnormal science institutions are so flexible.

Jun 29, 2015 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Steve, in Post Normal Science, only common sense is impossible.

Jun 29, 2015 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Elon Musk believes the biggest problem facing the humming race is a catastrophic drop in the population

You can't ignore a man who owns space ships..

Jun 29, 2015 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

The less the climate actually conforms to their hype, the more the hypesters have to lie.

Jun 29, 2015 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I gather the warmist litany is that Greenland is losing Ice volume ( obviously at an alarming rate) and this will cause sea level to rise.

Meanwhile some American aeroplanes that landed on the Greenland ice cap in 1942 were excavated a few years ago.
They were 260 ft below the surface.

Can someone explain?

And don't tell me they sank through the ice - that hypothesis has already been thoroughly debunked.

Jun 29, 2015 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

Spectator, the planes landed on alien lift shafts powered by Higgs-Bosun particulate beams?

It is as likely a guess as most of climate science anyway.

Jun 29, 2015 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Spectator doesn't know what snow is anymore. It must be that global warming thingy.

Jun 29, 2015 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterHans Erren

The Washington State coast of North American is bent like a diving board, the west part being pulled down by the subducting plate. It will separate down there and spring back up causing a 9+ earthquake and massive tsunami. Parts of the coast dropped about 3 m., becoming saltwater marshes. This is a recurring event and last happened at 21:00 on January 26, 1700. The next one will happen later today, or tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or …

Jun 29, 2015 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Hultquist

Spectator -
It's perfectly possible to have an accumulation of snow in the interior of Greenland, and at the same time, a net loss of ice/snow mass in Greenland overall. Just because some people have cartoonish views (of the whole of Greenland melting) doesn't mean that one should attribute those views to everyone.

Jun 29, 2015 at 7:47 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

You can't ignore a man who owns space ships..

Jun 29, 2015 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered Commenter esmiff

One less didn't I hear?

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnother Ian

Another Ian

Just an explosion / disintegration pause. Scientists predict it will return. In fact the explosion was predicted by the design models.

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

I'm going to trick them by dying before 2100.

Ha ha ha ha! How clever is that?

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

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