Barrier islands and climate change

by Judith Curry

Pursuant to the controversy surrounding the last analysis of sea level rise from the University of Colorado, I spotted this article entitled “What will climate change and sea level rise mean for barrier islands?”

Some excerpts from the article:

A new survey of barrier islands published earlier this spring offers the most thorough assessment to date of the thousands of small islands that hug the coasts of the world’s landmasses.

During the 20th century, sea level has risen by an average of 1.7 millimeters (about 1/16 of an inch) per year. Since 1993, NASA satellites have observed an average sea level rise of 3.27 millimeters (about 1/8 of an inch) per year. A better understanding of how climate change and sea level rise are shaping barrier islands will also lead to a more complete grasp of how these dynamic forces are affecting more populated coastal areas.

The main points made in the article:

Every island is unique: Every island chain has a complex set of forces acting on it that underpin how islands form and how they’re likely to change over time. Barrier islands often develop in the mouths of flooded river valleys as sea level rises, but they can also form at the end of rivers as sediment builds up and creates a delta. Other important factors in barrier island formation include regional tectonics, sea level changes, climate, vegetation and wave activity. “Understanding how such forces impact barrier islands is the key to understanding how climate change will affect our coastlines,” noted Stutz.

Sea level rise can create or eliminate barrier islands: Paradoxically, gradual sea level rise can generate new barrier islands. Rising seas create shallow bays that develop barrier islands in the mouths of the bays along certain types of coastline. . . However, extremely rapid sea level rise — especially when coupled with decreases in sediment supply — can simply inundate islands causing them to break up and disappear. Islands are eroding rapidly along the Mississippi Delta, Eastern Canada and the Arctic for these reasons.

There are far more barrier islands than previously thought: A survey conducted by the same researchers tallied 1,492 barrier islands in 2001, but Stutz and Pilkey counted more than 2,149 this time. The difference: the researchers had access to higher-quality satellite imagery that covered a larger portion of the globe than they did last time.

Barrier islands cluster along tectonically calm coasts: Stable coasts, such as the eastern coast of the United States, tend to have wide, low relief areas with shallow estuaries that are conducive to barrier island formation. In contrast, continental margins near actively colliding plates, which generate earthquakes and volcanoes, produce fewer barrier islands.

Storms are key molders of barrier island shape: Storms tend to cause islands to retreat, carve new inlets that make them shorter and more numerous, and sometimes destroy them completely. 

Arctic barrier islands are retreating the fastest: [M]elting of sea ice and the permafrost that buffers Arctic islands from waves have left them susceptible to constant pounding from storms.

Conclusions: NASA research shows that some coasts are experiencing sea level rise significantly faster than the global average of 3.27 millimeters (about 1/8 of an inch) per year, while other areas are experiencing slower rates of rise and even falling sea levels. “It would be nice if we could say we can predict exactly how a given island or island chain will react to rising sea levels or some other environmental change, but we’re simply not there yet for most islands, especially for many tropical islands where research dollars are scarce. We’re still a long way from being able to accurately model how an individual island will change as a result of climate change or even simple development pressure,” said Stutz.

JC comments:  I am continuing to look for good resources on sea level rise and also guest posters on this subject.   I liked this article because it underscores that the processes associated with sea level rise are fundamentally local.  A massively rapid sea level rise such as that associated with the collapse of a major ice sheet would be a different story, but it seems that local geological processes and land use play a dominant role in local sea level rise.

275 responses to “Barrier islands and climate change

  1. edward getty

    Interesting article with an extremely interesting map of satellite data on 1992-2009 sea level rise.

    “After a three-decade hiatus, sea-level rise may return to the West Coast”
    AGU Release No. 11–17 2 May 2011

    http://www.agu.org/news/press/pr_archives/2011/2011-17.shtml

    • I move that the words “may” and “might” be stricken from usage in scientific literature.

      They are weasel words of use only to weasels.

      • Stephen, you may be confusing science with faith.

        I don’t recall whether the Holy Bible uses weasel words, but if it does I doubt it’s many.

      • I considered last night whether my position was too strong. I reconfirmed it.

        The usage of “may” or “might” in a scientific paper should be a red flag editorial mark:
        “This is too vague. Elaborate with more precision or remove it. Stop taking up space and the reader’s time with sentences without real meaning and that cannot be tested”

        “The Earth MAY be destroyed tomorrow by encountering an interstellar black hole.”

        This is a true statement until you can prove that there are no interstellar black holes. True, but useless unless you want to scare people. It is more useful to know the odds of it happening are no higher than 100 trillion to one and unlikely to be higher than 10,000 trillion to one.

      • Chicken Little

        Omigod! Interstellar black holes coming to kill us Frcrisake!

        I demand that an Intergovernmental panel be set up immediately. They must advise all governments to ban interstellar black holes forthwith.No excuses. No backsliding.

        And if any evil denier should dare to say that they have never seen one – have them cast into the fiery furnace along with their evil bribes from those who peddle black holes for profit. Down with the deniers. Up the alarmists!

        Next week ; DiHydrogen Monoxide and its propensity to kill people by drowning. Ban DHM now!

      • I believe the scientists who first named the so-called Little Ice Age said that it might not have been global. And here we are.

      • The people who starved to death didn’t care if the tropics didn’t cool as much as the northern hemisphere …. they were just as dead.

      • edward getty

        But, in my opinion, it “is” a very interesting map.

        The words “may” or “might” are essential for maintaining the flow of possibilities and ideas, aren’t they? “Is” is a box.

      • Edward, the headline could just as well say, “West Coast sea level has been steady for 30 years, and may remain steady.” The press release notes that global sea level (whatever that is, given that the article indicates that there is no consistent global change) rose about 2mm a year in the 20th C (or 60mm//2.4in in 30 years), more recently by about 3mm (a rate of 90mm/3.6in in 30 years), then goes on to warn of possible coastal damage from such rising sea levels. Surely it should say that such small rises will have negligible effects on coastal areas?

      • edward getty

        Faustino, point taken. The map is what I found most interesting.

        That said, the ‘headline’ was “After a three-decade hiatus, sea-level rise may return to the West Coast”

        It may. As for the rest of the story, I am afraid that I simply ignore all the usual hyped possibilities. I have heard this wolf crying too often.

        And to your other point, the map shows what a silly concept “global sea level” is.

      • The big leap associated to climate science is taking all the “may” and “mights” and wrapping them up with a giant fascist conclusion of “settled science” and proposed massive statist conclusion.

        This thread wouldn’t exist if the social stakes (massive global taxes and regulations at the state levels) weren’t there also. All the talk about “science” has been cheapened by this process. Few people on either side have any confidence in science evidence, especially the warmists/alarmists who understand the agenda of co2 rules and support the underlying pro-regulation culture of the future in their minds. If co2 fails as an agenda then they will support the next best thing and the agenda will continue.

      • The AGU? Isn’t that the organization that added English major and author of “The Republican War on Science.” Chris Mooney, to their board?

        It’s ironic too, because their masthead makes them look like a scientific organization, yet they sometimes seem to act like purveyors of agitprop.

  2. There are far more barrier islands than previously thought: A survey conducted by the same researchers tallied 1,492 barrier islands in 2001, but Stutz and Pilkey counted more than 2,149 this time. The difference: the researchers had access to higher-quality satellite imagery that covered a larger portion of the globe than they did last time.

    The goal posts keep moving here too.

  3. Factual evidence of drastic sea level rise in recent recorded history:
    http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/archeosm/en/fr-cosqu1.htm

    The barrier islands survived this. So did the coastal people of France.

    What do you guys want to talk about now?

    • How Europeans survived the Bubonic Plague.

      • Yes, retreat in disarray. It is all you have left.

      • Well, we could talk about how AGW deniers are trying to survive science.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        From the perspective of honest science this article about the number of barrier islands and a connection to climate and sea level rise can only be described as silly. This is a geological process and must be viewed in the proper geological time frame of millions of years and not the instantaneous time frame of a decade. Over the proper time frame barrier islands form as sea level rises and get wiped out when sea level drops as well as changing moving and dissapearing and reoccurring as depicted in this article over short time frames of decades.
        The only thing that counts is the preservation of these barrier islands when they are preserved by rapid sea level rise and are encased in sediments resulting from this sea level rise. I have mapped at least 200 prospects on 3D seismic surveys which now produce oil and gas from barrier islands. These range from Devonian sands developed as precambrian hugh areas were eroded with the sands derived forming barrier islands in the surrounding devonian seas, there are triassic barrier islands formed in a similar fashion from the erosion of preexisting rocks forming tyhe sediments for these barrier islands, and heavy oil deposits in the same formation as the Alberta Oil Sands in barrier islands just a ways down dip from oilsands operations where the production is through the SAGD process. All of these features are the final result of several generations of formation and removal odf barrier islands until the final configuration is eventually locked into the stratigraphic column.
        It should be noted that there was over eight times the CO2 in the devonian, three times the CO2 in the Triassic and twice the CO2 in the cretaceous and there were no polar ice caps present during any of these geological periods so neither climate nor CO2 had any effect on the barrier island formation making such commentary about barrier islands not even worthy of a grade five science project

    • A 90 year solar minimum?

      http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2011/06/solar-physicist-dr-c-de-jager-predicts.html

      If true it will make the plague look like a case of measles.

      • What a pile of doom and gloom. With CO2 at 394 ppm and climbing, that’ll be a solar weenie. What a balmy century it will be.

      • Probably … in places it was hot. The rest … damned cold.

      • It was cold because CO2 started at pre-industrial, ~280, and dropped.

        We’s on the way to doublin’ it. It will be pretty comfy everywhere. And with 20,000 years of coal, we can twist the blood out of that CO2 thermostat.

      • years of coal? wha?

      • Teddy, I read it on some climate blog.

      • I am not up on all the new slim slow slider lingo, so thought it might be a new expression.

      • Doubling from 300 to 600 gets you maybe 1C.

        LIA gets you -3C.

        Now the question is, is that -3C equally distributed, or like a real ice age, most felt outside of the topics. In either case, most of the worlds wheat crop is gone. But which cereal crops survive?

      • I don’t think any amount of coal – even 20,000 years worth — will save crops in the northern hemisphere during a 90 year mini ice age.

    • “Carbon Cate buys beachfront property… in Vanuatu”

      http://www.australianclimatemadness.com/2011/06/carbon-cate-buys-beachfront-property%E2%80%A6-in-vanuatu/

      Looks like Cate’s property investment advisors have spotted the same buying opportunity. Isn’t Vanuatu that little island about to be submerged?

      Pointman

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        No. Vanuatu is quite mountainous.

      • Then why all the hysteria about it disappearing? It must be very sad for true believers when their demi-gods reveal their feet of clay. I think you’re transitioning from phase 1 to 2, judging by your anger.

        http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/the-death-of-the-agw-belief-system/

        Pointman

      • Pointy, have you seen cartoonist Josh’s take on the five phases?

        I laughed so much I got the T shirt at the same time as I bought one for Judy Curry.

      • Hiya. Good to meet you Tallbloke. Nope, hadn’t seen it. It’s up to snuff though. LOL Wonder if I can get him to illustrate a few things for me? He’d have to be on the same rates as me though. All that money from the Koch brothers, big oil etc never seems to to come in my direction.

        Pointman

      • Pointy:
        his email address is on the top of his website:
        http://www.cartoonsbyjosh.com/
        He does do ‘toons for posts/ideas he likes so give it a go.

        After the insinuations about my on mental state I recieved at ‘skeptical science’ I enjoyed your article dishing a bit back their way. Richly deserved.

      • My pleasure mate. Funniest thing about it is, one of the aggrieved churnalists did a hit piece on my piece and now he’s handling, badly I’d opine, a major undisclosed conflict of interest howler in the comments to the piece.

        You couldn’t write comedy like that. Am I still on the feckin’ island Tuvalu?

        Pointman

      • Sounds like he’s the one with the sinking feeling. Got a linky?

      • Heh, I reckon the SEJ has a fair bit to answer for in the long run. Nice bit of pot stirring you’ve achieved.

      • Those are similar to the well known 7 stages of any project.

        1. Enthusiasm
        2. Planning
        3. Disillusionment
        4. Fear/Panic
        5. Search for the Guilty
        6. Punishment of the Innocent
        7. Praise and Honors for the Non-Participants

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        It’s Tuvalu which has been getting the attention.

      • You cudda fooled me Ratty.

        http://www.actnow.com.au/Opinion/Climate_change_a_real_threat_to_Vanuatu.aspx

        Lots more headlines if you want them. Some of them go back years. I can only think it’s the Methane keeping “dem islands afloat” …

        Pointman

      • I just checked google maps. If I got the right one, Vanuatu seems to be a series of several small islands. One or two are mountainous (volcanic) others are fairly flat so I think it depends on which bit you live on as to whether you might worry.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        See here:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Vanuatu

        “Vanuatu is a mountainous archipelago of volcanic origin with narrow coastal plains. The highest of all the mountains is Mount Tabwemasana at 1,877 meters. “

      • See here … 23 feet!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!

        “Environmentalists have warned that global warming, caused by a build-up of greenhouse gases, will cause thermal expansion and a meltdown of glaciers. That could lead to seas rising by up to 23ft, and would be devastating for countries such as Bangladesh, India, Vietnam and China. But the tiny nations of the Pacific, where some of the world’s lowest-lying islands are situated, would be the first to be swamped. Those considered particularly vulnerable, as well as Kiribati, are Vanuatu; the Marshall Islands; Tuvalu and parts of Papua New Guinea.

        In Vanuatu, an entire coastal village on the island of Tegua is being forced to move to higher ground, its huts flooded by surging seas.”

        http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/rising-tide-of-global-warming-threatens-pacific-island-states-421493.html

        Ahhh … this explains the problem. It looks familiar too.

        “A noted expert in sea level change has accused UN’s IPCC panel of falsifying and destroying data (PDF) to support the panel’s official conclusion of a rising sea level trend. The accusations include surreptitious substitution of datasets, selective use of data, presenting computer model simulations as physical data, and even the destruction of physical markers which fail to demonstrate sea level rise.

        The expert, Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner, also raps the IPCC for their selection of 22 authors of their most recent report on sea level rise (SLR), none of which were sea level specialists. According to Mörner, the authors were chosen to “arrive at a predetermined conclusion” of global warming-induced disaster.

        http://www.dailytech.com/Noted+Sea+Level+Expert+Accuses+IPCC+of+Falsifying+Data/article9978.htm

      • ferd berple

        “Carbon Cate buys beachfront property… in Vanuatu”

        Carbon Cate and Al Gore promote the threat of sea level rise for good reason. It drives down the value of waterfront property which they can then buy at great prices.

        These folks are not stupid. They are predators. They are wolves howling at the sheep to cause panic, so that they can pick off the easy targets.

      • Steven Mosher has joined them! Because of him, less than one-meter beach is dead in the water. He’s probably buying it up for a song right now.

  4. I live on a barrier island on the US east coast in a house appx 3 feet above sea level. When I bought the house 30 years ago I was 2 blocks form the ocean. Unfortunately I am still 2 blocks from the ocean. My property value would triple if it was waterfront property.

    • Triple in value? Are you kidding? If your property had become waterfront over the last 30 years, it might be underwater property in 30 more years. A sap might want to buy it, but I doubt a bank would loan the sap the money to buy it.

      • 30 years at 1.7mm a year = 51mm = 2 inches.

        My guess is that some waves are more than 2 inches high meaning that house owners might have already taken a possible 2 inch rise into effect.

      • JIM_SC said his house was 2 blocks from the ocean when he bought it 30 years ago, and it would be worth triple it’s present value if the ocean had moved up to his house since he’s owned it. At that rate, he might be able to snorkel in the living room in another 30 years.

        Actually, if you read Jim’s post carefully, you will see he said he was two blocks from the ocean when he bought the house, not the house was two blocks from the ocean. He said he’s still two blocks from the ocean, but doesn’t mention where the house is. Maybe the house is in the mountains by now.

      • He said he lives in a house 3 feet above sea level.

        You should learn to read.

      • I read what people write. In the following sentences, Jim is talking about himself, not the house.

        “When I bought the house 30 years ago I was 2 blocks form the ocean.”

        “Unfortunately I am still 2 blocks from the ocean.”

        But I was just kidding about the mountain.

      • Please do continue. I need a good laugh tonight.

      • M. carey – bankers are still loaning big money on barrier islands. You’re giving bankers way too much credit.

      • JCH,

        You’re not giving them enough credit…with this in place, why shouldn’t they lend the money?

    • “Why did Al Gore buy a 9 million dollar beach front property?”

      http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100517085820AAq1MH4

      Say one thing but never let it get in the way of making a good property investment …

      Pointman

      • The house he bought is reported to be 500 feet above sea level.

        So if Steven Mosher were his daddy, then Al Gore has been a good son and followed his father’ advice.

      • Latimer Alder

        Ok guys…lets see a picture of the Gory Villa.

        Even in Estate Agent speak it is difficult to describe 500 feet up as ‘beachside’. A pikkie will help to settle the question

      • Latimer Alder

        after a little research it seems that the gaff in question might be in Montecito, California.

        Wikipedia has this to say

        ‘the area was known as a haven for bandits and highway robbers’

        so it looks like I am on the right track…….Manbearpig woud feel quite at home there….

      • Latimer – do you know how to Google? The elevation of Montecito is listed as 180 feet. Gore’s villa is on a high spot that has a panoramic view of the ocean; an ocean that is a long way off. About as far away from the ocean as one can get in Montecito.

      • Latimer Alder

        What is this Google?

  5. “A number of Pacific islands previously thought to be losing ground to rising sea levels caused by climate change have actually grown larger, according to a new report.

    A study published in this week’s New Scientist magazine revealed that despite long-held fears that islands in the Pacific Ocean would be washed away in coming decades due to rising sea levels from global warming, the islands are actually responding to the threat by growing larger.

    The study of 27 islands by the University of Auckland and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji found that over the last 60 years only four of the islands had shrunk, with the others either remaining stable or growing.

    In the same period sea levels have risen by 4 feet 7 inches (120 millimeters). The reason lies in the how the islands were formed over time, the study said. As weather patterns changed, the islands appeared to respond.

    Erosion of coral forms the foundation of Pacific islands and, as living coral provides a continuous supply of material, wind and wave action helps a constant build-up of debris to form on the islands.

    Major weather events like cyclones serve to further add to the islands’ foundations.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/06/03/pacific-islands-growing-climate-change/

    Its worth than we thought … for AGW.

    • Bruce, that’s great news ! If sea level is rising and land area is growing, that means the globe’s circumference is increasing. Yes, the world is getting bigger and bigger around, and can support more population. OK, it may take longer to get places, but that’s a small price to pay.

    • Stirling English

      Ain’t no way that 120mm translates to 4 foot 7

      On my lil ol ruler at home, 120 mm is just under 5 inches. Not 55.

      • Metric conversions are tough for some.

      • Stirling English

        If they find metric conversions tough (multiply and divide), I rather dread how they’d make out as scientists.

        But they could probably have a successful career as a climatologist.

        PS – what if the real problem is that they’ve been measuring anomalies on degrees F and reporting them as degrees C. Sounds like the sort of dumb thing the crew at UEA woudl do … and never even notice.

  6. I was waiting for them to label barrier islands as being labelled bad for the environment, then we could look forward to headlines such as

    Encroaching islands pose danger to both oceans and wet lands

    There are far more barrier islands than previously thought: A survey conducted by the same researchers tallied 1,492 barrier islands in 2001, but Stutz and Pilkey counted more than 2,149 this time.

    One unexpected result of Climate change is the exponential growth of ‘Barrier Islands’
    In just 10 years there has been a 40% increase in the number of these structures which cause the silting up of estuary areas, the drying of wet lands and the gradual encroachment of land into pristine ocean areas.

    “It was known that barrier islands caused problems” said one source, “but this latest study has found that the problem is far worse than was previously thought.”

    :)
    Oh, I forgot- there should also be a call for extra study and grant money, and a call to “do something” just in case.

  7. I think that we need to arrive a a point where when we read anything with the phrase, “climate change” in it, we recognize that we are reading a waste of print or bandwidth,
    Any article that begins with the implication that the climate has only started to change recently, or will start changing at some point in the poorly defined future, is either written by someone who seeks to mislead or has been misled.

    • Thanks for the heads-up. Perhaps you can provide examples of several articles like that so I will know what to watch out for.

      • M. carey

        You asked for links to articles that “begin with the implication that the climate has only started to change recently, or will start changing at some point in the poorly defined future”.

        Check IPCC AR4 WG1 Report (~1,000 pages).

        Max

      • I can’t find any articles in AR4 WG1 that say or imply such nonsense. Did you just make it up ?

      • You are the target audience for ‘climate change’.
        How does it feel to be a rube?

  8. Step one: Assume “extremely rapid sea level rise”.
    Step two: Find something awful that will result.
    Step three: Demand funding to study how to mitigate, or at least to conclude that mitigation is impossible and doom is imminent.

    Bah.

  9. wayne arnold

    Yes- the average rate of sea level rise for the last century was 1.7mm/year
    &
    Yes- the average rate for the last 18 years was 3.2mm/year

    BUT the rate was also about 3mm/year in the 40s/50s and it has been significantly higher during the last 21,000 years.

    Whenever someone links sea level rise to AGW they must acknowlegde natural rise.
    “Sea level rise due to AGW is 1.5mm/year ” (3.2 – 1.7) MIGHT be a valid statement.

    • The place where I was born and raised used to be under a sea where monster sharks with 10 inch teeth cruised around gobbling up everything in sight. I don’t know if there were any islands with people around there at the time. If there were I bet those people were careful about going swimming.

  10. tempterrain

    Sea levels have risen by approximately 120 metres between the last glacial maximum and the present. How much warmer is it now than it was then? 8degC?

    If so, that means each degree of warming has resulted in 15 metres of sea level rise.

    And each further degree of warming will eventually produce a similar rise?

    But I must admit a total lack of climate science credentials, so maybe someone can spot a mistake in the above calculation and show that I am really being slightly too alarmist.

    • tempterrain,
      Your comments remind us is that natural climate variation is quite powerful and most likely will lead us back toward a glacial maximum. In the history of our planet, we are at the extreme warm edge. It has only been this warm a few times in the last 2,000 years (Roman Warm Period and Medieval Warm Period). The pendulum will most likely swing back towards cool and we will be most grateful for any warming we may get from anthropogenic atmospheric CO2.

      • “In the history of our planet …” Are you sure? I thought our planet was warmer in Alley Opp’s time.

        Anyway, you are forgetting when it swings back to warm again and teams up with AGW, the earth will get HOT HOT HOT ! But what do you care, you will be long gone by then.

    • tempterrain

      Since 1850 temperature has risen by around 0.7°C (HadCRUT)

      At the same time, sea level has risen by about 28 cm (Proudman + IPCC).

      This equals 40 cm per degree C.

      Max

      • Excellent arithmetic, Max, now let’s go out find those undiscovered ice sheets that just gotta still be there. You take the Canadian arctic. I’ll look in Hawaii and Tahiti and places like that.

    • Norm Kalmanovitch

      Most of the 120 meters of sea level rise occurred as the large continental mile thick ice sheets melted adding significantly to the ocean water volume. For the past 8000 years ther has only been 4m of sea level rise and if you do the math this works out to only 0.5mm per year on average. This means that the current measured rise of 1.7mm/year is just a short term anomaly which will likely revert to a slight drop in sea level over the next few decades to readjust to the long term meaured global average rate.

      • “For the past 8000 years ther has only been 4m of sea level rise and if you do the math this works out to only 0.5mm per year on average. This means that the current measured rise of 1.7mm/year is just a short term anomaly . . .”

        I think you may want to reexamine your reasoning there.

    • bad logic and bad math. if you just took two end points in a curve and compute the ratio of difference between those two endpoints you get gobblygook that doesnt tell you much. temperature has varied up and down in that period and so has the sea level. And in all likelihood we dont have enough data that shows how the two were correlated over the entire period. You cant calculate sea level rise per degree this way,

  11. I’m not too sharp on this meter system. At 1.7 miniature meters per year, it looks to me like, short of miracle, it would take temperature ~75,000 years to melt that much ice.

    Is that right?

    • JCH

      it looks to me like, short of miracle, it would take temperature ~75,000 years to melt that much ice.

      IPCC projects sea level to rise between 18 cm and 59 cm per century. At the upper rate around 20 cm will be from thermal expansion.

      So 39 cm per century is the maximum rate of SL rise we could expect from melting grounded ice.

      All grounded ice on Earth is roughly 30,000,000 km^3

      The surface of the ocean is roughly 360,000,000 km^2

      So if it all melted, it would raise SL by 83 meters =8,300 cm.

      And it would take 8,300 / 0.39 = 213 centuries = 21,300 years.

      So it would be a repeat of the past 22,000 years, with the total SL rise only about 60% of the that of the past period

      If the rate of rise were at the low end of the IPCC estimate (12 cm per century from melting ice), it would take 21,300 * 39 / 12 = 69,200 years (pretty close to your estimate).

      Doesn’t sound like anything to get too concerned about.

      Max

      • Max – the IPCC bound is for the 21st Century, not all centuries. It is based upon linear melting, and linear melting studies since then have significantly raised the bound. So the IPCC numbers for SLR are for squares. Like Lomborg. He likes that number. He likes to use it. Because it’s low and probably wrong and great for disinformation purposes. He cites the IPCC; as in, what, me doubt it?

        I have this theory. Heat melts ice and expands water; cold forms ice and contracts water. As the globe heats, ice recedes to defensible positions. Places like Antarctica and Greenland and the Alps. In the period tempterrain discussed, 120,000 miniature meters melted in 22,000 years. Obviously, the ice in indefensible positions melted quickly. I don’t know what you scientist call that, but I think it is called nonlinear melting.

        As Chief Hydro has hinted. It could also freeze. Very fast. There is no physics for predicting nonlinear melting and freezing, which is why the IPCC don’t include it. That does not mean it ain’t out there. Like he says, best get ready.

        My number was a joke. Obviously preposterous.

      • It does raise the issue of the “what and when” as regards AGW concerns. The current focus is on the extent of the likely AGW problem at the end of the current century.

        Hardly any of us will be around by then so why should it matter? Or, if it does matter why is 2100 a more significant date than 2200 or even 2500?

      • “IPCC projects sea level to rise between 18 cm and 59 cm per century. At the upper rate around 20 cm will be from thermal expansion.

        So 39 cm per century is the maximum rate of SL rise we could expect from melting grounded ice.”

        Only if you assume that the IPCC can never be wrong. Is that your premise?

      • Yes, never wrong. Lol. And for centuries! The IPCC GCM can predict maximum sea level rise for centuries.

        As for tt’s comment, we should all know this. The earth’s finish line is 2100.

  12. tempterrain

    Ron Cram,

    The last glacial maximum was 22,000 years ago. The next one is due in about 80,000 years so it seems rather premature to be engaged in geo-engineering the climate against that just yet.

    JCH,

    They are actually called “metres” – the SI unit of length. There’s nothing miraculous about 120 metres of sea level change in 22000 years caused by 8 degrees of warming – its all there in the geological record. When the Earth started to warm the initial sea level rise would have been small. Maybe even 1.7mm per year, then 3mm per year, then at its peak about 20mm per year.

    The danger of just a few degrees of warming should be obvious. It doesn’t all stop in the year 2100. If the climate is altered now, the effects will be felt for centuries to come with accelerating effects.

  13. An important aspect of experimental science is replication. ENVISAT is a European Space Agency satellite which also measures changing sea levels. It finds a trend which is significantly less than TOPEX/JASON/U. of Colarado

    In fact, in line with Craig Loehle’s ARGO data assessment and my own calculations on the steric sea level, it shows negligible sea level rise in the last few years on their adjusted data, and a fall on their unadjusted data.

    When considering sea level that may or may not be changing in quantities measured in mm per year, it is worth bearing in mind that in order to measure them, we have to know where the satellites doing the measuring are extremely accurately. Due to the fluctuation of solar activity, the orbits of the satellites experience varying amounts of drag from the expanding and contacting outer shell of Earth’s atmosphere. It is extraordinarily difficult engineering and computer science stuff, and I wonder weather the error is larger than the signal.

    The fact that these two platforms and software systems arrive at trends varying by several hundred percent indicates to me that there is a possibility that human decisions are a factor, and as you know, these are influenced by more than just technical considerations.

    • Tallbloke

      You ask regarding the accuracy satellite altimetry sea level measurements:

      It is extraordinarily difficult engineering and computer science stuff, and I wonder weather the error is larger than the signal

      The people directly involved with these measurement apparently have the same reservations.
      http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EGU04/05276/EGU04-J-05276.pdf

      The currently accepted value is 2.5±0.5 mm/year.
      However, every few years we learn about mishaps or drifts in the altimeter instruments, errors in the data processing or instabilities in the ancillary data that result in rates of change that easily exceed the formal error estimate, if not the rate estimate itself.

      And

      It seems that the more missions are added to the melting pot, the more uncertain the altimetric sea level change results become.

      Max

      • Thanks for that. Yes, I wonder if there might be a better way of doing the job. Probably not, so averaging terrestrial readings is probably the only check we can make independently of the satellite altimetry.

        Nice to see the frankness on the page you linked. Don’t see that coming from Colorado.edu so much… Hmmmm.

      • tallbloke

        You say that there must be a better way than satellite altimetry to measure sea level, and I would agree wholeheartedly. (The old tide gauges were not perfect, but it appears they gave more consistent results than satellite altimetry)

        Measuring annual changes in ice sheets by continuous satellite altimetry has, so far, given us the longest continuous record of both Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets (both showing a slight overall gain in mass over the 1993-2003 measuring time period, despite IPCC claims to the contrary). But the ice is stationary and the only adjustment needed is for the different density of new ice/snow and old ice, plus an estimation for the regions near coastlines, where satellite altimetry cannot measure accurately.

        For measuring sea level, we have the same problem near shorelines, but the whole measurement is complicated by a constantly heaving ocean, the impact of wind and the fact that ship decks can give a false measurement for several square miles.

        A study by Carl Wunsch et al. confirmed that the rate of sea level rise from 1993 to 2003 was around 1.6 mm/year (IPCC reported 3.1 mm/year for the same period), but Wunsch warned:
        http://ocean.mit.edu/~cwunsch/papersonline/Wunschetal_jclimate_2007_published.pdf

        Estimates made here produce a global mean of about 1.6 mm yr-1, or about 60% of the pure altimetric estimate, of which about 70% is from the addition of freshwater. Interannual global variations may be dominated by the freshwater changes rather than by heating changes.

        The widely quoted altimetric global average values may well be correct, but the accuracies being inferred in the literature are not testable by existing in situ observations. Useful estimation of the global averages is extremely difficult given the realities of space–time sampling and model approximations. Systematic errors are likely to dominate most estimates of global average change: published values and error bars should be used very cautiously.

        Max

    • One other aspect of the increased sea level rise from the satellites is noted at this link (Steve Goddard’s blog), stating the data is skewed by an anomlay north of Australia, which really skews the rise:

      http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/satellite-sea-level-data-is-crap/

      It stIs there any good explanation for this?

      In addition, another of Steve’s pages shows other interesting info about seal level measurements:

      http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/hiding-the-decline-in-sea-level/#more-32692

      Any comments or information discussing these would sure be helpful.

      • Regarding your second link, my comment above is discussing the same data.

        Regarding the anomaly north of Australia, the Grace geoid has come in for some sceptical attention on WUWT, and may be connected.

  14. Ian Blanchard

    Judith
    Very wise comments about sea level changes being an issue that needs consideration on a local scale. I was though slightly surprised that it is suggested that barrier islands in eastern Canada and the Arctic were eroding rapidly as a consequence of rising sea level – I would have expected these areas to be uplifting as a result of isostacy (post glacial rebound) rather more quickly than the sea level is increasing.

    The UK presents an interesting case, because we are still subject to post glacial rebound, but only the northern 2/3rds of the island was covered by glaciers – as a result, the island is gradually tilting so that while the north and west are rising at a rate of about 1cm a year (i.e out-stripping sea level rise by a good margin), the south and east are sinking slightly and so would be more susceptible by inundation especially with sea level rises. However, currently the rate of change is relatively slow, and so engineered adaptation (e.g. the Thames Flood Barrier) are sufficient to protect the populated areas from flooding.

    This is however another area where the mainstream media do a bad job of confusing the issues of natural changes to coastlines (i.e erosion) and claimed anthropogenic changes (sea level rise, extreme weather events), to provide a good scare story.

  15. “It would be nice if we could say we can predict exactly how a given island or island chain will react to rising sea levels or some other environmental change, but we’re simply not there yet for most islands, especially for many tropical islands where research dollars are scarce.”

    Out comes the research grant begging bowl.

    Pointman

  16. Barry Woods

    Charles Darwin explaine how coral islands reacted over a 160 years ago…

    THE STRUCTURE AND DISTRIBUTION OF CORAL REEFS
    Charles Darwin: 1842
    http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=F271&pageseq=1

    Apparently this peer-reviewed science was news to the local IPCC experts on, Tuvalu, Kiribati – reported in The New Scientist article – who found to thier surprise that coral debris builds up the islands in storm surges and corals grow.. (Darwin 1842)

    even the BBC reported it, same time as New Scientists mentioned above (more relieble than Fox news? ;) )

    BBC: Low-lying Pacific islands ‘growing not sinking’
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10222679
    A new geological study has shown that many low-lying Pacific islands are growing, not sinking.

    The islands of Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia are among those which have grown, because of coral debris and sediment.

    One of the authors of the study, featured in the magazine the New Scientist, predicts that the islands will still be there in 100 years’ time.

    Also reported in the Telegraph…
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/tuvalu/7799503/Pacific-islands-growing-not-shrinking-due-to-climate-change.html

    “It has long been thought that as the sea level goes up, islands will sit there and drown. But they won’t,” Professor Kench said.

    The trend is largely explained by the fact that the islands comprise mostly coral debris eroded from encircling reefs, which is pushed up on to the islands by wind and waves.

    Because coral is a living organism, it continues to grow and establish itself in its new home, so the process becomes continuous.

    Land reclamation and deposition of other sediment also contribute to the process.

    “These islands are so low lying that in extreme events waves crash straight over the top of them,” Professor Kench said.

    “In doing that they transport sediment from the beach or adjacent reef platform and they throw it on to the top of the island.”

    Notice, that the mechanisms that the scientists have ‘discovered’ (climate change funding research no doubt) is EXACTLY the mechanism that Charles Darwin observed…in his paper in 1842 !!!!!
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/tuvalu/7799503/Pacific-islands-growing-not-shrinking-due-to-climate-change.html

    Note, they are refering to Tuvalu, etc IPCC, Greenpeace, etc poster child of sea level scare of choice.

    • Here’s information from Greenpeace on sea level rise in Tuvalu. How does this qualify as the Greenpeace “poster child of sea level scare of choice?

      http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/australia/resources/fact-sheets/climate-change/impacts-of-climate-change.pdf

    • tempterrain

      Barry Woods,

      I would suggest that links to articles in the UK’s Daily Telegraph don’t really count as scientific references. The same would go for papers like the Mail, the Express, the Spectator, the WSJ etc . I’m sure the UK’s Royal Society and other world scientific bodies would be more than happy to help them out with any scientific difficulties they may have, but it seems they prefer to just make up their own version whenever they don’t like what they might otherwise hear.

      It’s better to avoid referencing all news organisations, even those like the BBC who may make a lot of effort to check their facts. For instance, if you wish to claim the Pacific Islands are not in fact shrinking, link us to a scientific paper which gives us the evidence to show that.

      • Sorry, the BBC ‘lot of effort to check its facts’??? Have you READ anything Richard Black posts??

      • edward getty

        Labmunkey – Black just writes whatever the UN or Greenpeace press release or public relations guy tells him to write.

        Parrots are not responsible for the content of what they say. And note that it is clearly stated to be his “take” on things, which means… whatever. His actual level of knowledge appears to be extremely shallow. So, facts shmacts.

      • tempterrain

        Labmunkey and Edward Getty,

        You might disagree with what Richard Black writes and you might disagree with the BBC’s line on climate change in general – but that’s mainly not because they don’t they don’t check with the UK’s top science advisors, although I’m sure there would have been instances of that happening, but because you yourselves don’t agree with those advisors. Am I right?

        PS Labmunkey

        I just wondered if you’d ever tried bashing the keyboard at random? If you do it long enough you’ll eventually write something sensible on the topic of AGW. :-)

      • Barry WoodsBarry Woods

        I Did not make the claim!!!
        The scientists reported about a 60 year study, that showed these ilsands were growing!!! The media reported it.

        Actually I linked to the BBC !!!!!

        The Telegraph merey reported the same thing as in New Scientist (but as that is behind a paywall you can not see it)

        Or is the BBC ‘denier’ central now…

        The BBC reported on a scientific paper, as did New scientists… which was also widely reported elsewhere

        (hard to link to things behind paywalls)
        you are being ridiculous….

      • Chicken Little

        By the miracle of Google, here’s the peer-reviewed scientific paper in question. If you have forty bucks you can shell out to buy it. But the free abstract confirms everything that Barry has said.

        Enjoy your reading! I know you’ll be delighted to see it.

        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921818110001013

      • Latimer Alder

        Here’s the kink to the paper you ask for. Peer-reviewed and all.

        It shows exactly what Barry claimed it did. Which is only to be expected because Barry is an honest man.

        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921818110001013

        I know you;ll be delighted to have it so quickly :-)

        Enjoy your reading!

      • Hey – I trust the BBC… ;)

        If you are interested – track it down.. 60 year study, islands growing, published in peer reviewed journal…. ,etc,etc,etc

        “Associate Professor Paul Kench of Auckland University, who took part in the study, published in the journal Global and Planetary Change, says the islands are not in immediate danger of extinction. ”

        Or do we have a bit more misdirection to come…

        Or perhaps people would like to pretend that sea levels and Tuvalu, etc are not, or have never been poster childs for the environmental NGO lobbyists…

        Google – tuvalu climate change and have a browse at the 4 million plus results from the mainstream media and all the associated press releases…… ;)

        http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=tuvalu+climate+change&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-gb:IE-SearchBox&ie=&oe=&redir_esc=&ei=PU3_TYWdM9GzhAev94GcCw

      • Thanks for finding the paper…

      • tempterrain

        BW,

        Yes thanks to Latimer for finding the paper. I doubt if we’ll make a real scientist out of you, but its a start! However, the sequence of events shows that firstly you’d made up your mind that sea-level rise wasn’t a problem, and then, when pressed, went in search of scientific evidence to justify that position. That’s a common scientific mistake, especially for guys who think the way you do.

        Incidentally, I take the point about paywalls – they are frustrating – but the abstract itself doesn’t quite say what I suspect you would like it to say. In fact the title of the paper starts “The dynamic response of reef islands to sea-level rise..” As coral is a living organism it is quite possible that the rate of growth of coral, at least while it is still alive and unbleached, can exceed that rise. No argument about that from me.

        So, the paper does give island nations in the Pacific some cause for optimism that, even with a rising sea level, the natural processes involved in reef islands may be enough to offset that.

        But to suggest that rising sea -levels are just not a problem according to this paper? That is being slightly disingenuous, wouldn’t you agree ?

      • Who is Lucy, and why would somebody love her? Furthermore, what is Google?

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterrain

        Please post your scientifc bio on the Denizens thread as many here have done, and we can judge your scientific credential against mine.

        Deal?

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      Google returns 902,000 hits on Greenpeace Maldives. I’d guess that’s the Greenpeace poster child. The Maldives average only 1.5 m above sea level and were the first nation to sign to Kyoto Protocols. Here’s a sympathetic Greenpeace video.

      Sea levels are said to have increased 20 cm. over the last 100 years. On the other hand, sea levels are claimed to have decreased 30 cm. since 1970, due to increased evaporation from “global warming”. If true, then without the AGW, the devastating 2004 tsunami could have been worse.

      Nevertheless, in 2009, the Maldives cabinet donned scuba gear and held an underwater meeting/stunt to condemn climate change and dramatize their plight of potential ocean inundation. They say CO2 emitting countries are responsible for causing their problems.

      Paradoxically, tourism, which accounts for 28% of GDP, has resulted in the highest per capita income of any south Asian country and an associated increase in life expectancy of some 30 years. Travel to out-of-the-way Maldives requires considerable CO2 emissions. Since the 1970’s there have been more than 8,000,000 tourists; that’s a lot of jet-fuel CO2 going to benefit some 200,000 Maldivian’s.

      So, I’d rather not be taxed for Maldivian CO2 reparations payments.

  17. Barrier Islands are nothing but overgrown sandbars and tell very little (almost nothing at all) about anything significant to ocean levels. The Mississippi and Amazon and Nile Deltas, are only slightly different because of their size, and the fact that people –not climate– have had more to do with their shrinkage and going to sea. Before we spend too much time and money studying the shifting sands of time, let’s balance the federal budgit first. When did “science” stop thinking in terms of “value” for our most precious and most limited resource: The Buck?

  18. Barry Woods

    IPCC working group 2 (2007) prior to 2010 report that they islands were in fact growing.. changing shape, yes, erosion, ,etc but nothing to do with CO2 causing sea level rise…

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch16s16-5-4-4.html

    In the case of Tuvalu, this internal migration has brought almost half of the national population to Funafuti atoll, with negative environmental consequences, and the Government has indicated that there is also visual evidence of sea-level rise through increased erosion, flooding and salinisation (Connell, 2003).

    Connell suggests that, as a result, the global media have increasingly emphasised a doomsday scenario for Tuvalu, as a symbol of all threatened small island environments.

    Farbotko (2005) also indicates that Tuvalu is becoming prominent in connection with climate-change-related sea-level rise.

    She undertook an analysis of reports in a major Australian newspaper over the past several years, and suggests that implicating climate change in the identity of Tuvaluans as ‘vulnerable’ operates to silence alternative identities that emphasise resilience

    . Indeed, she says that her analysis “has highlighted the capacity for vulnerability rhetoric to silence discourse of adaptation” and concludes that “adaptive strategies are significant for island peoples faced with climate change” and that “it is adaptation, perhaps even more than relocation or mitigation initiatives, which is of immediate importance in island places… [especially] in the face of changes brought about by ‘global warming’” (Farbotko, 2005).

    ————————–

    Of course if you are a small island state with many problesm including many man made environmental ones, exsacerbated due to growing populations, in a marginal place for habitation anyway. (local – not CO2 related) far easier to blame somebody else, and demand payments. rather than deal with all the local issues..

    Or is somebody going to make me dig out the working group 1 report that spells out all the non CO2 related man made local environmental problems effecting these islands…

    • Not necessary, Barry.

      But it would be helpful if you could dig out the Greenpeace propaganda that makes Tuvalu the poster child for sea level change. The information I found clearly indicated that there is a wide band of uncertainty and a lack of sufficient data to draw conclusions.

    • I thought that most Tuvuluans now live in Australia and New Zealand, their remittances supporting those still at home. (From memory, I don’t have any sources, but have taken an interest as a friend married a Tuvuluan (and brought her family to Aus), and another friend is descended from a former governor of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, some of which now form Tuvalu.)

  19. As I knowyou are being disengenouos now.. why should I bother, fixating on a single point,etc..

    Have you read dthe 4 million links so quickly, so SPECIFICALLY a few greenpeace..

    They talk quite a lot about it here.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/System-templates/Search-results/?all=tuvalu

    I quite like the – we aren’t celerating we are drowning – blog entry –

    But I suspect that won’t be enough for you,

    You appear to claim that sea level rises, and small islands states are not one of the poster childs of the media, lobby groups, including greenpeace. … enjoy your version of reality, I’m tired of it…

    IPCC working group 2, (above)
    “Connell suggests that, as a result, the global media have increasingly emphasised a DOOMSDAY scenario for Tuvalu, as a symbol of all threatened small island environments. ”

    I could perhaps leave you with the thought of the Greenpeace ‘Angry kid’ video

    Where sea level are going to rise.. due to both polar ice caps melting within HIS lifetime..

    Find it yourself….

    I’m going to pick my kids up from school and take my daughter to her ballet lesson…

    • “As I knowyou are being disengenouos now.. why should I bother, fixating on a single point,etc..”

      It’s about factual accuracy. Getting facts right is important, don’t you agree? Especially when you are accusing an organization of bad behavior. It’s also about being able to admit you’re wrong when you’re wrong. And both of those thing pertain to your credibility when you make other claims.

  20. The one thing that is clear from the barrier island/coral atolls use by the AGW promotion community is that that whenever an AGW claim of evidence for doom is closely examined, the claim fails.
    Yet the believer community laps this stuff up, no matter how false it is shown to be.

    • What claim of doom? Me, I’m excited. They found a ton of new islands, and soon the S.S. Minnow will be recovered.

  21. The cited study shows us that every location is unique regarding sea level changes.

    As a result, it is indeed very wise to consider and adapt to anticipated sea level rise locally, as the Dutch have been doing for centuries.

    The future will be no different than the past in this regard.

  22. The history of barrier islands as well as islands well offshore paints a fascinating picture of a dynamic process of island growth and island loss due to different forces in different regions. From the perspective of barrier islands as a protective feature of coastlines, any net increase in number (birth vs death) may be beneficial, provided the lost islands are not inhabited.

    The situation changes for islands (particularly offshore) that are home to mini-civilizations. Here, loss of any one island to rising seas is likely to result in harm that outweighs the benefit from the appearance of even four or five new, uninhabited islands. The same principle applies to growth of existing islands. Growth of multiple islands that are already above sea level is unlikely to compensate for submergence of any one inhabited island.

    In some regions, island growth over the past centuries has involved the growth of corals. However, ocean acidification is now damaging corals in many regions and imperiling others, and so it is unclear that coral growth can be depended on to keep pace with sea level rise. Some details of the relevant chemistry along with multiple references can be found at Ocean Acidification 2010 and Ocean Acidification 2008.

    • oh for goodness sake, jump from one scare to another – (BSC Chemistry)

      Is one of those, the one where TWO fish were studied (not 2 species, but 2 fish!)
      Many islands have some very local issues with coral reefs, due to a very real human environmental impact (real pollution) not CO2..

      ‘Ocean acidification’ is just more rentseeking scare stories as far as I’m concerned.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        The pH in the photic zone where corals grow is typically 8.2 mahing this basic and not below the 7 mark which would make it acidic. As long as the ocean remains salty the saturation point for CO2 is well above the level that sufficient carbonate ion concentration is possible to make photic zones acidic. Over the entire history of the world that included times when atmospheric CO2 concentration was over ten times what it is today the top 50m of the oceans where reefs grow has never been acidic and with the CO2 concentration just 390ppmv today ocean acidification is a complete impossibility so “Some details of the relevant chemistry along with multiple references can be found at Ocean Acidification 2010 and Ocean Acidification 2008.” can only be seen as false science bordering on being fraudulent.
        If this is your source of information one can easily understand your misconception of reality

      • Norm – Thanks for your comment. I believe interested readers should visit the articles I linked to on ocean acidification for what seems to me to be a comprehensive treatment of both the chemistry and the biological implications, including threats to corals and to calcifying plankton that serve as an important component of the food chain.

        The definition of “ocean acidification” has been addressed previously in these threads, and you might want to review the basis for this terminology, which does not depend on whether the pH is above or below 7.

      • Stirling English

        ‘The definition of “ocean acidification” has been addressed previously in these threads, and you might want to review the basis for this terminology, which does not depend on whether the pH is above or below 7’

        Certainly did depend on whether the pH is above or below 7 when I studied Physical Chemistry at Oxford University. I don’t imagine that Chemistry has changed much in 30 years.

        Fred tries deliberately to mislead the public by using such incorrect terminology.

      • Stirling – Chemistry hasn’t changed, but “ocean acidification”, used in reference to declining ocean pH is now a well established term whose meaning is precisely understood by scientists working in the field as well as members of the public with interest in the phenomenon. If you Google the term and/or review the papers I cited and their references, I think that will become apparent. This use of “acid” within a word is not unprecedented. The most venerable example is probably in medicine, where for probably a century, deviations of blood pH below the normal value of 7.4 have been termed “acidosis”. A pH of 7.3 is a mild acidosis, while a pH of 7.1 is a severe and life-threatening acidosis.

        Ocean “acidification” (i.e., a term referring to an ocean process rather than an ocean state) is also a relevant description because it is the increase in ocean hydrogen ion concentration rather than a pH below 7 that is the destructive element of the process. Even with pH in the 8.1-8.0 range, but declining, the effect on the viability of calcifying organisms can be devastating, with serious consequences to the ocean food chain. With a future high rate of CO2 emissions, it is conceivable that ocean hydrogen ion concentration might double over the next 100 years, with further damage to marine life. A lesser rise would have lesser consequences, but any significant rise above current levels will probably be harmful.

      • Fred – is there enough CO2 available in the world to acidify the oceans? If so, how many GT would it require, and what concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere must be sustained to truly acidify and maintain the acidity of the oceans? And let us please use the scientific ph value of 7.4 to denote the point at which the ocean moves from basic to acidic. Arbitrary but conversationally convenient terms and values won’t work here.

      • dp,
        There’s no “scientific” pH value. pH 7 is the neutral point of pure water, but we don’t have that. As Fred says, 7.4 is a satisfactory level for body fluids, but we don’t have that either.

        In fact, pH is not a very useful indicator in a buffered solution like sea water, because H+ is a minor (Lewis) acid component. The big ones are CO2, HCO3- and CO3–. People who want to track acidification measure two quantities – TIC (total inorganic carbon – map), and alkalinity (map.

        You can get to the answer to your question from alkalinity. That’s the amount of CO2, say, needed to change a mole of carbonate to bicarb, say. That’s a big change – in fact, it would be disastrous. But it gives the kind of order of magnitude that I think you want.

        An average surface alkalinity is about 2.4 eq/m3. That means it would take about 0.105 kg CO2 to “acidify” 1 m3. There are about 3.6E14 m3 of ocean, so you’d need 38 Gt CO2 to neutralize the top metre.

        It doesn’t make sense to talk of acidifying the whole ocean to the bottom – in terms of time scales of mixing, it’s probably the top few tens of metres that matter. Current fossil fuel CO2 output on that basis would, if dissolved, “acidify” nearly a metre depth a year.

      • “minor (Lewis) acid component. The big ones are CO2, HCO3- and CO3–.”
        I mean of course acid/base component. CO3– here would always act as a base.

      • Stirling English

        Sorry Fred

        Just saying ‘lots of others use this term wrongly too’ doesn’t make it right.

        I can call a dog ‘Tiddles’ but it won;t grow whiskers and start to miaow. Not even if lots and lots of people think it will.

        As to the rest of your remarks there are rather too many ifs and buts and perhapses in there to be convincing. I used to write sales proposlas fro expensive capital equipment and can almost produce a content free one in my sleep. Try this and tell me where it differs from your remarks

        ‘Dear Mr Customer

        Installing our new super duper Kokey Cokey 2011 equipment may help you to meet the uncertain challenges of the forthcoming business requirements. Super duper feature A could reduce your costs in area X, while our latest research shows that feature B has the potential to increase latent sales demand by a significant amount. It is definitely possible that all these benefits may show up in your future bottom line’

        Would you buy it? Especially if the seller misdescribed themselves even before you got to the intro?

      • Stirling,
        I think you are wrong. Please produce some backing for your claim that acidification only applies where pH less than 7, other than your memory of Phys Chem lectures thirty years ago. Try to be a bit convincing yourself.

      • Stirling English

        Imagine a valley with steep sides on each side. One side is called ‘alkaline’ and the other ‘acid’. They are opposites. One is not more important than the other.

        At the bottom of the valley is a stream of pure water…neither acid or alkaline..pretty boring stuff…pH7.

        Seawater is someway up the alkaline side of the valley. If you add carbon dioxide to the seawater, it slips very slightly down the side towards the pure water.

        But it remains on the alkaline side of the valley. It does not and cannot get across the river of pure water to get to the acid side.

        The acid produced by carbon dioxide is not strong enough to push it across, even if all the carbon in all the FFs were burnt tomorrow.

        So that;s the layman’s analogy. pH is not a simple linear scale like temperature or weight. pH7 is not just any old waymarker along it but represents the point where water is least dissociated into acid and alkali..and where the chemistry is least active.

        If you want to read more, I suggest that Atkins (my old Professor) probably has one of his characteristically challenging essays on the topic

        http://www.sprintbooks.co.uk/scripts/browse.asp?ref=0199543372&source=K84

      • That’s arm-waving. It in no way backs up your claim that adding an acid does not constitute acidification uhtil the pH is less than 7.

        But it’s also simply wrong. If you add 2 moles of CO2 for every mole of dissolved carbonate, and one mole for every mole bicarb (and deduct for CO2 that was there already) then you will have an equimolar mix of CO2/carbonic acid and bicarb. Then the pH is the pKa of carbonic acid, which at 25C is 6.352. Add more CO2 and the pH goes down further.

      • Stirling English

        @nick

        I;m sorry that you didn’t like my analogy. But I’m not sure you explained what you thought was wrong with it.

        Where are you going to get all the carbon dioxide from to do all this? There’s an awful lot of sea and an awful lot of moles of carbonate dissolved in it. And even if all the CO2 were to all dissolve in the sea you still wouldn’t get anywhere near enough to neutralise the alkaline seawater beyond about pH7.5.

        Remember that even in the ‘scariest’ scenarios’ there is only about one molecule of atmospheric CO2 for every 2000 others.

        I;m sure your lab experiment works out fine and that you have accurately reported its results. But that experiment is not a true reflection of reality. Try it again with a layer of atmospheric CO2 at 400 ppm above some seawater, see what happens to pH and report back.

      • Fred,
        You are polite, but you are simply dismissing Norm, and basically everyone, who disagrees with your choice of papers to follow on anything to do with AGW.
        Why is it so hard to see that the claims of OA are simply wrong, and that we not anywhere close to an acidic problem in the ocean?
        The tenacity of the AGW believer is amazing to behold.
        Thank you for demonstrating so well and so politiely.

      • “The pH in the photic zone where corals grow is typically 8.2 mahing this basic and not below the 7 mark which would make it acidic.”

        A substance that is basic can be undergoing acidification, obviously. Or would you say that a person 200 feet in the air cannot be falling?

      • In fact, the pH value of 8.2 cited by Norm applies to pre-20th century oceans, but upper ocean pH has declined already to about 8.1 (in general, pH is even lower at lower depths although this varies). This amounts to about a 26% increase in hydrogen ion concentration, which is sufficient to create problems for a variety of calcifying organisms. The detailed chemistry is described in the ocean acidification references I linked to above, but the most relevant reaction is that of H+ with carbonate (CO3–) to yield bicarbonate (HCO3-). Calcifying organisms require their surroundings to be saturated with regard to carbonate so that they can construct shells of insoluble CaCO3 in accordance with the solubility product equilibrium constant for the reaction by which (Ca++) + (CO3–) yields CaCO3. When carbonate ion drops below saturation, carbonate must come from the insoluble form to restore equilibrium and the shell calcification is thereby disrupted, with a consequent loss of viability.

        This is already occurring with current pH levels, but is expected to worsen as CO2 rises, further adding to oceanic hydrogen ion concentration by dissolving in ocean water to form carbonic acid (H2CO3) – again, details are in the referenced articles.

        Regarding the semantics issue, it seems to be a diversion, but I also believe it results from a misconception. Semanticists remind us that words have no intrinsic meaning, but rather derive their meaning from the way that they are used. Lexicographers will therefore update the meaning of terms according to usage; they will ignore fringe uses but will generally go along with changes when responsible individuals concerned with the phenomena in question agree that a particular term signifies a particular content. In this case, “ocean acidification” is more or less universally established among those working in the area to refer not to whether a solution is on the acidic or basic side of pH 7 but to a process of increasing hydrogen ion concentration. Because that is how the term is used, then by definition, that is what it means. There is no other criterion by which the correct meaning of any word or set of words can be judged.

      • For some reason, the URL linked to my name above was not directed to the website I wanted it to go to – I hope that’s now fixed.

      • Fred = right as rain.

    • The first Steve Irwin Memorial Lecture was given by a University of Queensland Professor (can’t recall his name) on areas of Cape York where extremely alkaline streams emerge from bauxite-rich hills. It was previously believed that no flora or fauna could survive beyond a certain level of alkilinity, but researchers found new species of flora and fauna at extreme levels of alkilinity. There was micro-adaptation – the plants etc 50 m from a spring source were different from those at the source, where alkilinity was highest.

      I’ve commented before that life is amazingly adaptable, while I have no scientific backing for this, I would not be surprised if corals show an adaptability which is often demonstrated elsewhere, e.g. in life being found in places where it was assumed that it couldn’t exist.

  23. The forces of C.H.A.O.S. have nearly conquered the Free World. We are doomed I tell you. We are DOOMED! The price incurred to refute all these crazy lies is bankrupting the West. The Soviet Union did not discintegrate, they went to hiding in plain sight. We are doomed. (SarcOff)

    Note: Even in the biggest lies, there be hints of truth. Life’s a beach, but psyence is beachier!

  24. Oh for goodness sake

    BBC: World’s oceans in ‘shocking’ decline – Richard Black – 20th June 2011
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13796479

    “The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists.”

    The International Panel on the State of the Ocean !!! IPSO

    this is getting beyon saitire, but lots more UN jobs and research required…

    Oh Look

    Headline and press releases today, grab the worlds attention…….

    “The findings are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, IPSO’s scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.

    “Its report will be formally released later this week.”

    where have we seen this before, have to wait a week to check the hype over the report, by then the story has legs…

    Its worse than we thought (they considered)

    ..”As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised.

    “We’ve sat in one forum and spoken to each other about what we’re seeing, and we’ve ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we’re seeing changes that are happening faster than we’d thought, or in ways that we didn’t expect to see for hundreds of years.”
    ” These “accelerated” changes include melting of Arctic sea ice and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, sea level rise, and release of methane trapped in the sea bed.”

    .BUT at the end. – It is too early to say !!!!

    The IPSO report concludes that it is too early to say definitively.

    But the trends are such that it is likely to happen, they say – and far faster than any of the previous five.

    I’m sorry but I have utter contempt for this sort of pseudo-science by press release…

    Seriuolsy:

    The InternationalPanel of the State of the Ocean (IPSO)

    They are hardly ever going to come to the concluson, that it might be doing ‘just fine’

    • “International Panel on the State of the Ocean”

      Isn’t this just what people have been asking for in relationship to the IPCC? Independent organizations analyzing the same issues and publishing their own, competing reports? Say thank you.

      Unfortunately different reports do not get you a different reality.

      • The key word there is independent. I wonder – does anyone except Robert believe IPSO is independent of IPCC influence?

    • IPSO non facto?

  25. David L. Hagen

    Judith

    Recommend:
    Nils-Axel Mörner

    e.g.
    Sea Level Changes in Bangladesh New Observational Facts by Nils-Axel Mörner, ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT VOLUME 21 No. 3 2010
    http://www.sasnet.lu.se/mornerbangla.pdf

    New perspectives for the future of the Maldives
    Nils-Axel Mo¨rnera,*, Michael Tooleyb, Go¨ran Possnert
    http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/MornerEtAl2004.pdf

    Search for Morner Islands

    I just found his recent article with interesting testable predictions for a coming grand solar minimum:

    Solar Minima, Earth’s rotation and Little Ice Ages in the past and in the future: The North Atlantic–European case

    Nils-Axel Mörnera
    Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics, Stockholm, Sweden
    Available online 25 January 2010.

    Abstract

    The past Solar Minima were linked to a general speeding up of the Earth’s rate of rotation. This affected the surface currents and southward penetration of Arctic water in the North Atlantic causing “Little Ice Ages” over northwestern Europe. At around 2040–2050 we will be in a new major Solar Minimum. It is to be expected that we will then have a new “Little Ice Age” over the Arctic and NW Europe. The mechanism proposed for the linkage of Solar activity with Earth’s rotation is the interaction of Solar Wind with the Earth’s magnetosphere; the decrease in Solar Wind at sunspot minima weakens the interaction with the magnetosphere that allows the Earth to speed up, and the increase in Solar Wind at sunspot maxima strengthens the interaction with the magnetosphere that slows down the spinning of the Earth.

    Email: morner {at} pog {dot} nu

  26. The International Panel on the State of the Ocean !!! IPSO – modest bunch – see mission statement (front page website)

    http://www.stateoftheocean.org/

    “The International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) was established by scientists with the aim of saving the Earth and all life on it.”

    Straight out of a science fiction B-movie:

    scientists; “saving the Earth and ALL LIFE ON IT”

    I’m now a climate change cynic

    (as categorised and grouped by Futerra)
    http://www.futerra.co.uk/downloads/Sellthesizzle.pdf

    and yes, there really are cartoon pictures of wind turbines and polar bears on the report front/back cover. Nice to know they advice the UN. (amongst others)
    http://www.futerra.co.uk/clients/

  27. It is particularly interesting that they focus on barrier islands. These are heavily influenced by tides and are constantly moving. On the USA Georgia coast, the islands move north, with a single storm being able to move them north hundreds of meters. They quickly adjust to sea level because wave action throws sand up and the wind blows it off the beach onto the island. They are the LEAST likely to vanish.

  28. WUWT reports that the press embargo has been lifted on this paper:
    Kemp, A.C., Horton, B.P., Donnelly, J.P., Mann, M.E., Vermeer, M., Rahmstorf, S., Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/20/manns-new-sea-level-hockey-stick-paper/

    Full paper posted at
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/pnas_kemp-etal_2011_sea_level_rise.pdf

    We present new sea-level reconstructions for the past 2100 y based on salt-marsh sedimentary sequences from the US Atlantic coast. The data from North Carolina reveal four phases of persistent sea-level change after correction for glacial isostatic adjustment. Sea level was stable from at least BC 100 until AD 950. Sea level then increased for 400 y at a rate of 0.6 mm/y, followed by a further period of stable, or slightly falling, sea level that persisted until the late 19th century. Since then, sea level has risen at an average rate of 2.1 mm/y, representing the steepest century-scale increase of the past two millennia. This rate was initiated between AD 1865 and 1892. Using an extended semiempirical modeling approach, we show that these sea-level changes are consistent with global temperature for at least the past millennium.

    • curryja | June 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
      WUWT reports that the press embargo has been lifted on this paper:
      Kemp, A.C., Horton, B.P., Donnelly, J.P., Mann, M.E., Vermeer, M., Rahmstorf, S., Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/20/manns-new-sea-level-hockey-stick-paper/

      There is a degree of Mickey taking in progress. :-)

    • How many hurricanes have hit NC in the last 120 years?

      What does that do to salt marshes?

    • Using an extended semiempirical modeling approach, we show that these sea-level changes are consistent with global temperature for at least the past millennium.

      Which is interesting, since if that relationship holds up in the last 1,000 years, where we have good temperature proxies, it would suggest that long-term sea level rise could be a temperature proxy of sorts in its own right.

  29. you know there is a reason they call these things “barrier islands” As I posted yesterday in 30 years I have lived here the sea hasn’t changes a iota. However back in 89 the island was cut in two overnight during a hurricane. Point is barriers islands are like the climate, they are always changing and always will be and mankind’s influence is minimal.

    • The barrier islands at Hatteras are believed to be younger than Columbus’s voyage to the Carribean, but I am haviong trouble finding the link that discussed this.

      • Hunter – I would go to the Cape Hatteras barrier islands every summer when I was a kid in the 60s and 70s. One vivid memory I have from that time is a museum exhibit showing how the islands have changed over the years. Many of the islands are not in the same location as they were (that is, no overlap) in colonial times – a little factoid that really piqued my interest in issues like this.

        However, I’m quite sure the islands have been around for longer than the European “discovery”. The pirate Blackbeard was trapped and killed by the British navy in Ocracoke harbor in the early 1700s, and the records show it was not fundamentally different than today.

        In the mid-20th century, snow fences were installed all along these islands to form “barrier dunes” in an attempt to stabilize them. However, all that these really did was keep the islands from forming new land on the inland side while the ocean side continued to erode away. I was shocked when I returned in the 1980s — the ocean side had retreated tens of meters in the decade I had been away. I haven’t been back since, but I hear they had to rip up the fences and rebuild the roads further inland.

        The take-home point for me is that the horizontal effect of several meters per year is 3 orders of magnitude greater than the vertical effect of a global sea level rise of several millimeters per year on these islands.

      • Curt – I lived in Emerald Isle in the early 1970s. It’s been a long time, but I think my Uncle had a copy of a Spanish map on the wall of his beach house. It would have been after Columbus, but not long after.

        I would have to believe that the outer banks have been there, in reasonable likeness to their current selves, for a very long time. There was a Civil War fort there that was remarkably well preserved.

        They had to move that little road in places on our island while I was there. Hurricane. I went surfing in a hurricane. What a numbskull.

        I never did make it to Cape Hatteras.

  30. Climate Law Blog discusses the proceedings of the Threatened Island Nations Conference

    http://blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatechange/2011/05/25/day-3-threatened-island-nations-conference/

  31. The report states: “However, extremely rapid sea level rise — especially when coupled with decreases in sediment supply — can simply inundate islands causing them to break up and disappear. Islands are eroding rapidly along the Mississippi Delta, Eastern Canada and the Arctic for these reasons.”

    Do the authors really consider 2-3mm/year “extremely rapid sea level rise”?

  32. Woppelmann et al, “Geocentric sea-level trend estimates from GPS analyses at relevant tide gauges world-wide”, Global and Planetary Change 57 (2007) 396 – 406 provides an interesting analysis of sea-level trends.

    They track the rise or fall of terrestrial tide gauges using GPS satellites. They use this data to correct the (relative) measurements of the gauges and claim more consistent trends and a reduced average trend of 1.31 +/-0.30 mm/year, which they say matches more closely estimates of what energy balance calculations would produce.

  33. Roy Soc New Zealand published a short but informative update on Sea level rise last year:
    http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/media/SLR-v4.9-for-web.pdf

    • Bart Verheggen

      The NZ report you cited informs us:

      There is also clear evidence that sea level can be higher
      than it is now, as it was during the Last Interglacial period (~125,000 years ago). Sea level rose around five metres (and possibly more) above present-day values as a result of warming that is comparable to what is expected in the Twenty-First century.1,3 While there is less information about the rates at which sea level rose in this period, some studies indicate that these exceeded 1.5 metres per century.
      4,5

      “warming that is comparable to what is expected in the
      Twenty-First century”

      Hmmm.. expected by whom? And on what basis?

      The report lists various estimates of 21st century sea level rise, ranging from 12 centimeters to ”extreme scenarios” of 1.5 meters.

      It discusses the high level of uncertainty and then makes the claim (without providing any empirical data to justify it:

      However, our uncertainty is mostly one-sided, with more possible effects that might hasten sea level rise than might slow it.

      IOW, we have an alarming report here. But how realistic is it, Bart?

      IPCC tells us, based on various rather generously estimated “scenarios” and “storylines” regarding CO2 increase over the 21st century, the rise in sea level expected by year 2100 ranges from 18 to 59 centimeters (not ”1.5 metres” as the report you cited claims).
      (IPCC AR4 WG1 SPM, Table SPM.3)

      Why does this report not mention that the rate of sea level rise was higher on average over the first half of the 20th century (2.03 mm/year) than in the second half (1.45 mm/year)?
      http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2007/2006GL028492.shtml

      Why does it not mention that the tide gauge record showed a much slower rate of rise over the period 1993-2003 (1.6 mm/year) than the rate reported by IPCC for this same period based on switching from tide gauges to satellite altimetry (3.1 mm/year)?
      http://ocean.mit.edu/~cwunsch/papersonline/Wunschetal_jclimate_2007_published.pdf

      Why does it not mention that satellite altimetry is still plagued by large errors, sometimes even exceeding the rate of measurement itself?
      http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EGU04/05276/EGU04-J-05276.pdf

      Why does it not mention that the rate of rise as measured by satellites has decreased sharply since around 2005 and is now less than the long-term average?

      (In fact, it appears that sea level has essentially stopped rising, once the data are reported correctly).
      http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/hiding-the-decline-in-sea-level/#more-32692

      Bart, I do not believe there is anything new to learn from this report. IMO, it is simply one of many fear-mongering “doomsday” studies out there.

      Sorry.

      Max

  34. There is a scientific description for a base and for acids. They are not different shades of the same thing. They are not gradients of a common process. They are quite different and behave very differently. It is inappropriate to speak of lessening degrees of alkalinity by calling it acidification if the conversation is to do with scientific principles and rigor.

    By way of comparison – when at the market in the frozen foods section my wife will hurry through because, as she says, she is “freezing”. Conversationally this is perfectly acceptable and makes her point – she is cold. Scientifically she is obviously not freezing, nor even becoming less warm. She is sensing a lack of warmth radiating from her immediate environment.

    In scientific discussions It is inappropriate to say the world is freezing because the temperature has dropped 5º overnight to 65º. Nobody would question this. What works in the frozen food section of the market does not work here. Freezing means things. By the same rationale it is inappropriate to say in a scientific frame that the ocean is acidifying because the ph has dropped 0.0001% somewhere.

    I asked earlier in this thread how much CO2 does it require to acidify the ocean – to reach a scientific definition of an acid. And I asked how much atmospheric CO2 is required to sustain that oceanic acidity. CO2 precipitates out of seawater and is sequestered naturally on the seafloor, so there has to be a rate of replacement to maintain a true acid condition. That requires a continuous supply of CO2 in the atmosphere in a every growing density so that the ocean will absorb it. Show me the numbers. Would it surprise anyone to learn that the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere required to actually acidify and sustain an acidic ocean are incompatible with human existence and that we will all be dead before we can acidify the oceans? I get the feeling that many progressives would consider this a proper scrubbing of the greatest curse to afflict Earth – humanity.

    So what is the purpose of saying the ocean is acidifying when in fact it is not? Quite simply it creates great mental imagery that satisfies a political agenda. People mentally picture bubbling masses of dead life festering on a now barren seafloor, denuded gastropods, soft shell crabs, and bug-eyed mackerel floating on stinking seas, and then vote green. No thinking required.

    • dp – See the discussion upthread for an explanation regarding both the importance of hydrogen ion concentration changes at pH’s above 7, as well as the semantics.

      • Stirling English

        No Fred, Just for once, why don’t you answer the questions that dp asks. You are the one supporting the term ‘acidification’ rather than the scientifically accurate ‘neutralisation’. Explain why you prefer the former term than the latter.

        You are not normally short of words. Here’s an opportunity for you to convince us.

        SE, BA MA Chemistry,

      • I thought I already answered, Stirlling, but I would summarize it as follows:

        (1) Increasing hydrogen ion concentrations are a source of damage to marine organisms at pH 8 and thereabouts – it is the hydrogen ion concentration per se, and not its relationship to the 10^-7M concentration at pH 7, that is destructive.

        (2) The use of the term “ocean acidification” not only has historical precedents (e.g., “acidosis” for blood pH below 7.4), but conforms to the established semantic principle that the meaning of a term is determined by its usage, as long as that usage is well established for individuals whose efforts are most related to the term. Everybody in the field knows that an “acidic” pH is below 7. Everybody also knows that ocean acidification refers to something else. No-one is confused by the distinction, and given the precedents and the convenience of the term, it strikes me that claims that the term was devised as a scare tactic border on the paranoid. However, you are welcome to use any alternative term you wish, while acknowledging that you can’t call it “reduced alkalinity” because CO2 doesn’t reduce alkalinity according to the definition of alkalinity.

        I would prefer to discuss the mechanisms and consequences of ocean acidification, which I perceive to be substantial, rather than debate what to call it. If you want to continue to discuss the phenomenon, I’ll be glad to use your terminology rather than the standard one.

      • Stirling English

        Excellent

        ‘Ocean neutralisation’ it is.

        But ‘you can’t call it “reduced alkalinity” because CO2 doesn’t reduce alkalinity according to the definition of alkalinity’

        which definition are you using?

        There are fewer hydroxyl ions overall….so it is less alkaline. Unless you have a different sort of water than I do.

      • Stirling English

        That really is some obscure definition of ‘alkalinity’. And seemingly unsupported by anything other than the reference to an article about pond keeping.

        But to keep you happy, I;m content with ‘ocean neutralisation’

        First remind us what are all the terrible things that have actually happened as the pH of seawater has got a small amount closer to neutral over the last thirty years.

      • I’ve already mentioned the critical interaction between hydrogen ion and carbonate that creates an environment unsaturated with regard to the latter, but for far more extensive descriptions, including detrimental effects of increasing hydrogen ions on marine biology, please see the two articles and their many references at Comment 77879.

      • Latimer Alder

        Show us exactly where it has been unequivocally proven that any supposed damage to corals has been caused by ocean neutralisation. Not ‘consistent with’ or ‘contemporary with’ but proven

        Becasue remarks here about corals seem to say that they are indifferent to atmopsheric CO2 below 1000 ppm

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/01/oh-snap-co2-causes-ocean-critters-to-build-more-shells/

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘the critical interaction between hydrogen ion and carbonate that creates an environment unsaturated with regard to the latter’

        I think I have managed to disentangle that one.

        So what happens if the carbonate in the ocean becomes reduced below saturation levels. What would happen in any other equilibrium? Lets think. Is there another source of calcium carbonate that could replace it?

        Well gosh Latimer there is, Remember those White Cliffs that you saw on the ferry over to France lst week? They are made of limestone. Which is Ca CO3. And when it comes into an unsaturated carbonate solution, guess what it will do?

        Would it dissolve? Yes Latimer it would. Right up to its saturation point. And there;s lots of similar sources of limestone around all in contact with seawater.

        Gosh aren;t equilibira wonderful? Yes Latimer they are.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Stirling English | June 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm

        That really is some obscure definition of ‘alkalinity’.

        I have looked and so far all sources support Fred Moolten’s statement that changes to ocean CO2 concentration affect pH (+-) and DOES NOT CHANGE ALKALINITY.

        Please provide a reference or more clearly explain your understanding of ocean CO2, pH and alkalinity.

      • Stirling English

        @blueice…..

        Acid: preponderance of hydrogen ions. ph7.0. Solution displays alkaline chemistry

        Neutral: ‘Pure’ water. Equal numbers of hydrogen and hydroxyl ions. pH = 7.00 Pretty boring chemistry (aka ‘deionised water – to a first approximation).

        That is the conventional definition of acid/alkali as understood by science students for many decades and as understood by the general public.

        Interestingly one of the pioneers of this understanding was Svante Arrhenius…who , as we know, crops again in this story. I first encountered is work while studying Chemistry at Oxford in the 1970s, anAFAIK, chemical reactions heven’t changed much in the last 35 years.

        Fred uses a whole new ..and unconventional definition of ‘alkalinity’. And uses it without clarifying the distinction. Naive and trusting souls might easily fall into the trap of thinking that he is discussing ‘the property of being alkaline’ as per the discussion above.

        Here is wiki’s take on Fred’s definition

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkalinity

        I note that the only supporting literature cited is

        http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/2/chemistry

        an article for pond keepers. And even this notes that the discussion using Fred’s chosen definition is of a ‘special case’.

        But Fred doesn’t make it clear that he is using a special definition of a special case Either he doesn’t understand it himself, or he deliberately uses it to confuse. Similarly with his choice of ‘ocean acidification’ to describe the neutralisation that occurs as pH tends towards 7 from 8 and above.

        IMO there is a strong thread of deabsement of scientific language running through the heart of climatology. Science needs to be precise, to have undisputed and unambiguous terms to decribe the phenomena it studies. It is the authors responsibility to make sure that their meaning is entirely clear and cannot be misinterpreted. Failure to do so is a failure of them as ‘scientists’.

        Is that clear? Happy to follow up. But an O level textbook on acids, alkalis and pH will probably describe it better than I can. And will have few graphs which, sadly I cannot create on the equipment available ot me at the moment

        Cheers

      • Stirling English

        Some terrible gremlins crept into my first para…….apologies…elderly and unreliable equipment (no jokes I’ve heard them all)

        Should read

        Acid: preponderance of hydrogen ions. ph 7.0. Solution displays alkaline chemistry

        Then OK from ‘Neutral….

      • Stirling English

        I give up. It seems that ther is some unhappy bug in my machine. I hop ethat my meaning can be inferred

        Lots of H+ = acid, pH7.0
        Neutral = equal numbers pH=7.0

      • Latimer Alder

        My very last attempt ..new equipment

        @blueice…..

        Acid: preponderance of hydrogen ions (H+). ph7,0. Solution displays alkaline chemistry

        Neutral: ‘Pure’ water. Equal numbers of hydrogen and hydroxyl ions. pH = 7.00 Pretty boring chemistry (aka ‘deionised water – to a first approximation).

        That is the conventional definition of acid/alkali as understood by science students for many decades and as understood by the general public.

        Interestingly one of the pioneers of this understanding was Svante Arrhenius…who , as we know, crops again in this story. I first encountered is work while studying Chemistry at Oxford in the 1970s, and AFAIK, chemical reactions haven’t changed much in the last 35 years.

        Fred uses without explanation a whole new ..and unconventional definition of ‘alkalinity’. And uses it without clarifying the distinction between his and the conventional one. Naive and trusting souls might easily fall into the trap of thinking that he is discussing ‘the property of being alkaline’ as per the discussion above.

        Here is wiki’s take on Fred’s definition

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkalinity

        I note that the only supporting literature cited is

        http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/2/chemistry

        which is an article for pond keepers. And even this notes that the discussion using Fred’s chosen definition is of a ‘special case’.

        But Fred doesn’t make it clear that he is using a special definition of a special case Either he doesn’t understand it himself, or he deliberately uses it to confuse. Similarly with his choice of ‘ocean acidification’ to describe the neutralisation that occurs as pH tends towards 7 from 8 and above.

        IMO there is a strong thread of debsement of scientific language running through the heart of climatology. Science needs to be precise, to have undisputed and unambiguous terms to describe the phenomena it studies. It is the authors responsibility to make sure that their meaning is entirely clear and cannot be misinterpreted. Failure to do so is a failure of them as ‘scientists’.

        Is that clear? Happy to follow up. But an O level textbook on acids, alkalis and pH will probably describe it better than I can. And will have few graphs which, sadly I cannot create on the equipment available ot me at the moment

        Cheers

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Your explanation of alkalinity and pH is one that I am comfortable with. On the other hand, I thought we were specifically discussing ocean chemistry. Is it really all that straightforward?

        No disrespect intended, but what to make of stuff like this?

        “Presently, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising and since the total alkalinity is almost constant the pH is falling rapidly.” – University of Sydney

      • Latimer Alder

        @BI2HS

        If your last remark was directed to me, then I fear I have absolutely no idea what the UoS is referring to,

        Perhaps Fred will enlighten us in a brief piece.

        Is ocean chemistry really that simple? Yes at the highest level.. It is not the case that because CO2 dissolved in water is slightly acidic so the oceans are acidifying – as Fred and others would have you believe.

        He and others can produce no observational data for any of the horrors that they claim have already been observed. Indeed the only experimental evidence that I can find or that is referenced in any of the literature surveys that FM recommends is from one set off Hawaii. Where they claim to be able to see a decrease in pH from 8.12 to 8.09 in twenty years. Everything else is inferred, assumed or ‘could be’, ‘is likely to’ may occur’, ‘is at risk of’.’has been attributed to’ and other such weasel words.

        I am a chemist by training a long time ago, and I’m pretty firmly of the opinion that theories without observational backup are of only limited
        use. And that any theoretician who wants to demonstrate the truth of their idea should go and grab themselves a good solid experimentalist and devise some pretty good way to test it.

        Somehow I see a great reluctance – nay abhorrence – of this idea in
        climatology.

        As ever, I’m happy to be proved wrong. Just bring on the experimental data that shows me to be so.

      • BlueIce – Regarding the U. Sydney quote, I think what was meant was probably the following:

        Alkalinity refers to the total content of anions capable of buffering sea water against the addition of acid. Adding CO2 causes an increase in both bicarbonate and carbonate ions. Ordinarily, this would increase total alkalinity. However, alkalinity is a function of bicarbonate concentration but of twice the carbonate concentration, since the latter is doubly ionized. Conversion of carbonate to bicarbonate by addition of hydrogen ions therefore reduces alkalinity. For alkalinity to remain unchanged, the additional ions from CO2 must be balanced by a conversion of carbonate to bicarbonate. This requires an increase in hydrogen ion concentration, and thus a pH reduction.

        Note – In the Threatened Islands thread, I also responded to the latest request by Willis for more documentation of the threat of ocean acidification to corals.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        @Stirling English
        Below the aquarist’s reference there is one that you missed:
        DOE (1994) Handbook of methods for the analysis of the various parameters of the carbon dioxide system in sea water
        See Ch.4 SOP3: Determination of total alkalinity in sea water.

        @Latimer Adler
        Thanks for trying. But I wanted to better understand the mechanism of acidification before discussing the threat.

        @Fred Moolten
        Thank you. Your description is in line what I have read from numerous diverse materials. Still sorting it all out.

      • Actually Fred, you have not mentioned the important interaction at all.
        Your appeals to authority, although quietly presented, are still appeals to authroity.

      • Fred,
        Reviewing the literature on alleging pH impacts on ocean, the distressing thing is to see to what extent experimenters go to avoid creating realistic tests:
        “slowly dripping dilute hydrochloric acid as the seawater passes through to simulate CO2 levels predicted for the year 2100. Marine organisms established in the tanks include various types of algae, cyanobacteria, mollusks, and crustaceans.”
        http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2007/01/
        Hmmmm…..HCl to mimic CO2? Can we say, ‘rigged phony test’?
        There is no evidence that ocean pH is changing signficantly or dangerously And there is great evidence that not only are the concerns over ocean neutalization/acidification vastly overstated,
        http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/acid-oceans-and-acid-rain
        You seem to rely on obscure spun up definitions and long on-cited references.
        Perhaps you could benefit from questioning the reliability of what you were told to believe?

      • Latimer Alder

        Surely even Fred’s knowledge of chemistry (incomplete and sketchy though it is) would tell him that along with the hydrogen ions in HCl come equal amounts of chloride ions. Very very different from carbonate/bicarbonate chemistry.

        Suggestion ..why not use nitric acid next time. That;ll really dissolve any CaCO3 around, And give off some CO2 I think. Or a nice bit of H2SO4/HF mixture. Just to make sure that its all nice and realistic (not!).

        But even better Fred could tell us – as Striling requested – exactly what effects have been noted in the sea of the supposed small change in pH towards pure water?

      • Actually, since in the real world corals use bicarbonate to metabolize calcium, CO2 is even less of an issue than I at first believed.
        Once again: anytime a doom-and-gloom claim of the AGW community is examined, it fails to hold up.

      • Hunter – You may misunderstand the relevant chemistry. The problem for corals is not too much bicarbonate but excessive conversion of carbonate to bicarbonate, resulting in carbonate unsaturation. At ocean depths where this occurs, calcifying organisms are subject to the dissolution of shell CaCO3 as part of the process whereby soluble carbonate ions are restored to the environment, and this is the lethal threat to them. At the risk of belaboring the point for you, Latimer, and dp, I think it’s worth reading the articles. The above chemistry, for example, is addressed in Fig. 1a of the Pelejero et al article (which is now published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, although that doesn’t appear in the pdf file).

      • Fred,
        Do you know the difference between bicarbonate and carbonate?
        Address that instead of repeating the points you relied on that are disproven.

      • Hunter – Please see my response to Stirling above as well as my several earlier comments on ocean acidification. The damage to marine organisms, and the potential harm to the entire marine food chain from ocean acidification (or “neutralization” as Stirling prefers to call it) is rather thoroughly documented by many dozens of studies involving the oceans themselves as well as any entailing laboratory experiments. I do agree that many details remain to be clarified. However, I hope you will go through the articles I cited in detail, and I suggest the same for anyone else interested in an accurate understanding. This may be more useful than a repetition of points already made here.

        It seems to me that ocean acidification has been relatively neglected compared with the global warming consequences of CO2 emissions, but the threat it poses is arguably as great if not greater, and will be almost impossible to adapt to to any significant extent. It is also one reason, in my view, why geoengineering schemes designed only to mitigate the warming effects of CO2 would be an inadvisable recourse, except possibly as a very temporary measure to stabilize temperatures while emissions reduction efforts were being scaled up.

      • Fred,
        But when you read those studies they are doing things like injecting HCl or sulfuric acid to get the desired result.
        And you just repeat yourself instead of addressing the points raised, which gets rather tedious.

      • Fred –
        * What is the rate of exchange of atmospheric CO2 required to acidify the oceans?
        * What CO2 density in the atmosphere is required to support that rate?
        * Is there enough CO2 available to do that? If not, can enough be generated?
        * Is life compatible with that amount of CO2 in the atmosphere? If not then it will not be generated, no?
        * What becomes of the atmospheric oxygen levels? Oxygen is also absorbed into the sea while this acidification is going on.

        You’ve suggested you belive the threat to be substantial – where are your numbers?

      • dp – Current CO2 concentrations have already been sufficient to increase hydrogen ion concentrations, with consequent damage to corals and other calcifying organisms. Again, the references I’ve cited will be important if you’re interested in the details.

      • Latimer Alder

        Your references re very wide-ranging. Please pick out for us the one that most specifically impressed you wrt actual observed damage to corals and other calcifying organisms.

      • Both articles are informative. For corals, there is more information in the Pelejero reference, but both articles cite extensive references to damage in the world oceans to the broad range of calcifying organisms as well as effects on other marine species.

      • Now you are simply annoying those of us who have paid attention and making yourself look limited.
        The only experiments that use CO2 concentrations over sea water show no significant effects on life until much higher concentrations than will exist in the atmosphere.
        You cannot find any damage in the eco-system to corals due to CO2, and repeating otherwise does not increase your credibility.

      • Again, the references I’ve cited will be important if you’re interested in the details.

        When you don’t know the answer to specific questions it is quite alright to say “I don’t know”. You are wasting everyone’s time with your lack of specifics, you are not having a conversation but a monolog, and convincing nobody.

      • Fred has no numbers, except those he either makes up or repeats from someone who makes them up.
        Experiments trickling HCl or H2SO4 through sea water and pretending to be analogs of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.
        What an insult to anyone who cares about the truth.

  35. Stirling English and Fred Moolten

    I have been following your exchange on “ocean acidification”.

    That this is something new for us to all “worry about” is something NASA, NOAA< Scripps and some others would like for us to believe.

    IMO it is a "red herring", designed to deflect our attention from the fact that neither the surface atmosphere nor the upper ocean have been warming lately, despite atmospheric CO2 levels reaching all-time highs.

    The natural cycle absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere in cooler oceans, which is then released back to the atmosphere from warmer oceans.

    Over a longer period a warmer ocean should absorb slightly less CO2.

    At higher atmospheric concentrations, however, it should absorb slightly more CO2.

    The only problem is that there is no method available to survey ocean pH, as ARGO does for temperature.

    There is no robust correlation between human CO2 emissions and change in atmospheric CO2 content on a year-to-year basis, with between 15% and 90% “staying” in the atmosphere. Over a longer period, however, a bit less than 50% “stays” in the atmosphere and the rest is “missing”.

    Finding the “missing” CO2 is like looking for a needle in a haystack, since the natural carbon cycle is so much greater than the human emissions, but it is generally assumed that a portion of the “missing” CO2 is ending up in the oceans, where it is buffered by the chemical reactions you have been discussing, absorbed by phytoplankton who, in turn, enter the food chain where it may end up as carbonates, sinking to the ocean floor.

    Other carbon sinks may be absorbing the “missing” CO2. Studies have shown that many plants increase growth rates by 40% on average with a doubling of atmospheric CO2, so we could well be seeing some of the “missing” CO2 going there.

    Then there is the great unknown surrounding CO2 emissions directly into the ocean from submarine fissures and volcanoes. While the relatively small emissions from land volcanoes are generally known, there are no good estimates of the emissions from submarine sources. Australian geologist Ian Plimer estimates that these are higher than human CO2 emissions today, but this estimate is hotly disputed.

    Until there is a longer-term record of comprehensive ocean measurements of pH and chemical content, allowing a calculation of how much the CO2 level in upper seawater has increased, it is rather hypothetical to talk about “ocean acidification” IMO.

    Max

    • Max – You make some valid points about uncertainty, but also inaccurate statements implying we do not have adequate documentation of declining ocean pH and its effects on plankton, corals, and other components of the marine food chain important to our own welfare. I believe you too should read the cited articles (and relevant references), because there’s an enormity of material on ocean acidification, both current and from paleoclimatology.

      • Fred, WUWT ran an article a while back which used data from a transect up and down the Pacific which showed a much bigger variance in pH than even the glummest of models project over the next hundreds of years. Given that fish and marine biota don’t stick to a particular latitude, could you comment on the worries people seem to have about sea critters not being able to cope with slowly changing pH?

        Thanks

      • TB – I’m not familiar with the article you mention, but the variation in directly measured pH is known to be significant, and to depend on both depth and latitude, among other regional factors. I don’t think we have a seamless representation of every locality and depth, and that’s a valid point you make, but what does not seem to be in doubt is that samples from the multiple sources all show significant pH declines (particularly at high latitudes and the Southern Ocean), sufficient for a good overall picture, and one consistent with observed biological effects. Current trends also replicate paleoclimatologic data from earlier times characterized by high CO2, ocean acidification, and widespread decimation of marine species. The earlier data, of course, did not involve direct pH measurements, but rather pH values calculated from boron isotopes, a combination of ice-core CO2 and marine fossil carbonates, and a variety of other sources. Each method has its shortcomings, but they have tended to converge toward a consistent conclusion. Again, I would encourage you to read the two reviews I cited, which provide more details than I can condense into a comment, both in terms of the solid data and the uncertainties. The Pelejero review is particularly detailed regarding regional variations and paleoclimatologic evidence. The article by Fabry et al is very detailed in its examination of effects of acidification on marine fauna – both calcifying organisms and others affected by changes not directly related to carbonate solubility.

        The level of interest ocean acidification has sparked in the past few days here reinforces my belief that it probably deserves a thread of its own. It might particularly benefit by contributions from an expert in this particular area. One who comes to mind is Ken Caldeira, but there are many others.

      • The level of interest ocean acidification has sparked in the past few days here reinforces my belief that it probably deserves a thread of its own. It might particularly benefit by contributions from an expert in this particular area. One who comes to mind is Ken Caldeira, but there are many others.

        Can you imagine the interest, then, if the oceans were actually acidic and not just less alkaline by a tiny trace amount.

      • I forgot to respond to your question asking whether marine fauna could adapt by migrating or other responses. I don’t know the answer, but I’m sure it could happen to some extent. However, many species, including plankton, are limited by much more than pH, including temperature, habitat competition, availability of prey or predators, and so there would be limits. For the smallest organisms at the bottom of the food chain, migration per se would be impossible and they would have to adapt mainly by evolution. Paleoclimatologic evidence tells us that high CO2 and hydrogen ion concentrations in the past have been associated with severe biologic damage, and that probably gives us the constraints on how much adaptation is possible. Those past intervals were actually associated with CO2 rises much slower than the current one, implying that the current stresses won’t easily be managed by many of the vulnerable fauna.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Thanks Fred for starting this discussion. I found the 2010 paper you referenced (Ocean Acidification 2010) very interesting.

        One area of discussion that I did not note in the paper was the extent, if any, to which dying reefs may be replaced by corals (at not necessarily the same latitude) that would prefer the higher pH environment.

        I understand that reefs have existed in prior epochs when CO2 levels were several multiples higher than current levels. It seems to me that species of coral that once thrived in ‘acid’ oceans would thrive again with the return of preferred conditions – unless of course the ancient corals have proven to be universally extinct.

        Do you know the answer to my naive speculation?

      • BlueIce – The Pelejero review on ocean acidification includes a survey of paleoclimatologic evidence on a variety of calcifying organisms. During high CO2 intervals, decimation of some species and mass extinction of many others occurred, including many plankton species critical to the food chain. Corals have also been affected, and a relevant article is at Ocean Acidification and Corals. Many coral reefs were presumed damaged or destroyed because of their localized disappearance from the fossil record. However, corals as a biological entity have survived, and over millennia, many returned to health when CO2 levels and ocean pH were restored toward a more favorable environment.

        Both carbonate chemistry and the fossil record converge to show that calcifying organisms are very vulnerable to high CO2/reduced pH environments, but organisms vary in their response. The large majority of plankton and many large species are damaged, but a small minority are unaffected or even benefitted by high CO2. In the case of corals, a variety of factors in addition to acidification can threaten (or benefit) growth and survival. In protected environments, some corals can temporarily endure high CO2 concentrations. However, in the oceans, corals are under constant attrition from both physical erosion and biological attack, and so their ability to calcify, and survive, requires carbonate levels well above the so-called “horizon” at which carbonate is barely saturating. At some level of hydrogen ion concentrations, however, no variety of coral is likely to survive long. (It may also be worth noting that carbonate unsaturation is related to ocean depth, because CO2 concentrations are higher in deeper, colder water. Near the very surface, even very high atmospheric CO2 may not create a high enough hydrogen ion concentration to render the water unsaturated.)

        I’ll take the opportunity here to note a few comments above, as well as one below by Robert Ellison (“Chief Hydrologist”) on the acidification threat. Robert quotes selected excerpts from an experimental study showing that some of the larger marine calcifiers (e.g., lobsters) do well in high CO2 experiments, and as I mention above, a minority of smaller species are also unharmed. I believe it’s a good idea for anyone interested to read the comprehensive reviews on this subject, including the two I’ve cited earlier and the additional one here, and their many references, to acquire an accurate perspective. On a topic as extensive as this one, selected (“cherry-picked”) examples can create a distorted picture.

        I’ll repeat here my earlier thought that ocean acidification would be a good topic for a post of its own. It has been relatively neglected in discussions of CO2-mediated climate change, although its consequences are likely to be as great as those due to global warming.

      • Stirling English

        @fred moolten

        I thought we had agreed that ‘ocean neutralisation’ was the appropriate term. You seem to have unfortunately slipped back into the previous terminology with ts emotive and misleading connotations.

      • Stirling – I believe ocean acidification is the appropriate term for the many reasons I’ve cited, including the critical role of increasing hydrogen ion concentration regardless of whether or not pH is above 7. I’ve agreed, however, to refer to “ocean neutralization” in discussions with you, and I will abide by that agreement.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Fred was replying to my question. I am OK with the ‘acidification’.

      • Fred likes the propaganda value of “acidification” even though it is scientifically incorrect.

        Except during the ice ages the oceans have almost always been more acidic than they are now. Life evolved in conditions of higher acidity and higher CO2. The vast deposits of limestone demonstrate quite clearly that ocean acidification and higher CO2 levels are not a threat to shell formation.

        The current conditions of low CO2 and caustic (high PH) oceans is specific to ice age conditions. It is not the more typical conditions of earth in which life evolved. To suggest that a return to conditions more typical of the pre ice age earth is likely harmful to life is at odds with what we know about life before the ice ages.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        I am OK with the term acidification.

      • Ferd – Ocean pH is lower than at any time in at least the past 800,000 years and lower than at almost any time during the past 20 million years, with only a few occasions at about the same level. The history of biological damage in the fossil record is concordant with this evidence – see Pelejero Figures 1 and 2.

      • Those are the figures on page 6 and 7 of the article, not the figures in the boxes.

      • Stirling,
        Notice that the true believer cannot give in even one issue.
        Theyhave to use the latest marketing terms, they have to ignore the evidence contrary to their faith.
        The orthodoxy of AGW is too brittle to permit its followers to deviate at all without facing charges of heresy.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Fred Moolten

        One thing that I can’t see covered in your literature reviews is this:

        There is a pretty wide natural variation of pH level already across the globe. +/- 0.2pH units

        And this variation is at least as big as anything that can remotely predicted for the future. And yet there are no existing wastelands. There are no existing parts of the sea where there is no life. So even if mollusc Z prefers to live at pH8.16 and not 8.14 (a proposition I find very difficult to believe), somewhere not too far away is mollusc Y that thrives at 8.12…and so on and so on. There is nowhere where there is no food. Polar bears thrive in the Arctic, penguins in the Antarctic..whales around the world.

        Why – given nature’s ability to thrive in warm water, old water, ice, alkaline water, slightly lees alkaline water..high pressure, low pressure, dark and light – do you think that a small variation in pH will bring it all to a grinding halt?

        I’d value your own words in your answer please.

        Your continual reference to ‘its all in the literature over there’ is beginning to grate and is suggesting to me that behind your facade of great erudite learning there is very little actual substance or original thought.

      • Although ocean acidification can be detrimental to non-calcifying marine organisms, its principal direct harm is to calcifiers. The paleoclimatologic record (see the three articles I’ve now cited) shows massive extinctions of some calcifying species during earler intervals of high CO2 and reduced pH (e.g., many foraminifera). Many of these organisms are important to the food chain – the smaller ones are food sources for fish and other larger species, and corals are a home to many species. We are not yet at a hydrogen ion level that threatens extinctions and population reduction at some of those past extentss, but the decline in pH might bring us to that point within a relatively short period if unabated, as detailed by Pelejero et al. Human civilization has a significant dependence on the vitality of life in the sea, and while consequences for humans of unabated ocean acidification can’t be predicted at a precise level, they will probably not be benign.

      • Latimer Alder

        @fred

        You didn;t answer the question.

        ‘Why – given nature’s ability to thrive in warm water, old water, ice, alkaline water, slightly lees alkaline water..high pressure, low pressure, dark and light – do you think that a small variation in pH will bring it all to a grinding halt?

        Instead you regurgitated a lecture restating that it could. might, maybe etc etc.

        But you didn’t answer the question I asked.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        I agree that change is likely to be a threat for those species for which the current conditions are ideal. Yet, the current coral reef organisms are living in the interglacial period of an ice-house climate. It is all but assured that they will exit the scene and return as they have done numerous times over the last few million years.

        But my curiosity is about species for which the current transient environment (geologically speaking) is toxic. Will new species evolve to perform reef-building or is it possible that somewhere, the genes of ancient species still survive?

      • ” my curiosity is about species for which the current transient environment (geologically speaking) is toxic. Will new species evolve to perform reef-building”?

        There may be evidence from the paleoclimatologic record, but I’m not familiar with it. Mostly, it’s a record of slow recovery of species that were depopulated but not extinguished. For reef builders composed of small organisms dependent on CaCO3, there will probably be an absolute limit on tolerable pH simply due to the chemistry of the H+/CO3– reaction, but some new species might be able to tolerate more H+ than current ones.

      • Fred,
        Repeating lies makes you look much less nice than you act.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Best not to start a niceness war with Fred. You will lose.

      • First time I was accused of that, lol.

      • Fred

        I have read many of the articles to which you have referred plus a few others.

        From this I have concluded that our knowledge on changes in ocean pH, which have occurred since humans have been emitting CO2, is quite spotty and limited, unlike the ARGO data on ocean temperature, which has been giving us good data, at least since 2003.

        Once we have more comprehensive data on long-term ocean pH developments, we can probably make some educated guesses on how these developments have really impacted “plankton, corals and other components of the marine food chain” based on physical observations of these life forms.

        So far we (including you, Fred) are simply groping in the dark here.

        It is always best to admit uncertainty and lack of knowledge, Fred, than to assume one knows all there is to know.

        Max

    • Latimer Alder

      Ain’t that the Truth, Brother.

      Fred does a valiant job of trying to frighten us all to death, but is rather hampered by the lack of any actual facts to help him. Lots of ‘could’s and ‘would’s and ‘may’s and ‘might’s. But no actual data. Pity.

      • There is as usual not much in the way of field data or conclusive evidence. Fred as usual invents a narrative and refuses to back down. Appinsys has some wider discussion and useful links – http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/OceanAcidification.htm

        Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=7545&tid=282&cid=63809&ct=162

        “In a striking finding that raises new questions about carbon dioxide’s (CO2) impact on marine life, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists report that some shell-building creatures—such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters—unexpectedly build more shell when exposed to ocean acidification caused by elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).”

        “We were surprised that some organisms didn’t behave in the way we expected under elevated CO2,” said Anne L. Cohen, a research specialist at WHOI and one of the study’s co-authors. “What was really interesting was that some of the creatures, the coral, the hard clam and the lobster, for example, didn’t seem to care about CO2 until it was higher than about 1,000 parts per million [ppm].” Current atmospheric CO2 levels are about 380 ppm, she said. Above this level, calcification was reduced in the coral and the hard clam, but elevated in the lobster. The “take-home message, “ says Cohen, is that “we can’t assume that elevated CO2 causes a proportionate decline in calcification of all calcifying organisms.””

        The pH changes occur across a backdrop of diurnal and annual changes – as well as huge changes in carbon rich upwelling. Very small changes as a result of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are not in practice discernible. In theory – however – small changes to ecosystems can have dramatic impacts on community structures and trophic pathways and the marine food chain is not something to take unnecessary risks with.

        The alarmists need a narrative in a language that is superficially that of dispassionate science – because they need to justify an unpalatable agenda of root and branch transformation of society. I believe in prudent risk management – but I am a bit bored with imminent catastrophe.

      • Robert – See my Comment to BlueIce.

      • Also, Robert, you state: “The pH changes occur across a backdrop of diurnal and annual changes – as well as huge changes in carbon rich upwelling. Very small changes as a result of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are not in practice discernible.”

        That statement is incorrect. Recent and current pH changes have been measured at multiple locations and ocean depths. Historical changes have been determined by data from boron isotopes as well as correlations between CO2 levels (ice cores, leaf stomata) and carbonate in marine fossils. The pH changes have been well documented. (See Pelejero et al for more details)

      • Fred,
        He is not incorrect.
        You are simply attempting to ignore the evidence you do not like- that nothing significant happens in the marine eco-system at the current or projected CO2 levels.
        Is it possible, in your calmness, to do introspection and wonder why so much of what you rely on to support the idea of a climate catastrophe simply does not withstand reasonable scrutiny?

      • Hunter – It is this type of argument that can only be settled by reading the literature. I believe the references I’ve cited demonstrate that pH changes can be, and have been discerned, but individual readers should visit those articles to make their own judgments on this point. The same principle applies to reductions or extinctions involving calcifying species in the food chain, or damage to coral reefs resulting from past and current ocean acidification.

        One point that probably deserves mention involves timescales. Carbonate unsaturation from reduced ocean pH is eventually buffered by dissolution of solid carbonate from ocean sediments, to restore a saturated environment, albeit at a somewhat lower pH. However, measured over the deep oceans, this process requires millennia. The fossil record is consistent in demonstrating that biological recovery from elevated CO2 has been a process consuming many thousands of years. Few species disappear forever, but many appear to be reduced to low levels for long intervals and may disappear permanently from some regions.

      • Fred,
        Have you read the part about ‘bicarbonate’, not ‘carbonate’?
        Are you aware that CO2 increases bicarb?
        Have you seen the experiemnts done using CO2, instead of HCi or H2SO4?
        The thing AGW really underscores is that propaganda is a form of literature.

      • Chief – I generally enjoy reading your posts. You are obviously well-informed,I think you’re an interesting writer, and I think you well-reasoned analyses.

        For what it’s worth, I find your tendency towards gratuitous pot-shots distracting. Why not just leave that to the Martha’s and the hunters, and the Latiimer’s of the blogosphere? Is there really something to be gained in these discussions from calling Fred an “alarmist” or from polemics such as lumping anyone concerned about ocean acidification into a conspiracy to create a “root and branch transformation of society?’

      • But, Joshua, the Chief’s an Aussie….it’s in his blood to be rude, and he does hand it out to both sides!!

      • Yeah – I get that. But sometimes the gratuitous “hand outs” are distracting, and out-and-out conspiracy rants are simply pointless.

      • Pointless?? l doubt that. Chief doesn’t do “pointless.”

        Accurate – yes. Is that what bothers you?

      • And I’ll add a bit more.

        Nothing that Fred has written in this thread supports Chief’s characterization, and the link that Chief himself provided – to a study by scientists who express concern about the impact of ocean acidification – completely undermine his claims of conspiracy.

        Did you read the link? Chief really did “cherry-pick” his quote.

        My point being that Chief is usually better than that, and IMO, when he gets caught up in the Latimer/hunter/Martha level of mud-slinging, his rudeness (which is sometimes just amusing) comes at the expense of the meat of the discussion.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        I agree.

      • Joshua,
        I am sure the Chief will reply once he gets out of bed in a few hours. However, I’m not sure that you understood his comments. The word ‘conspiracy’ seems to be one that you have introduced. Perhaps you are interpreting this remark:

        “The alarmists need a narrative in a language that is superficially that of dispassionate science – because they need to justify an unpalatable agenda of root and branch transformation of society. I believe in prudent risk management – but I am a bit bored with imminent catastrophe.”

        If so, I believe he is referring to the political side of the debate not the scientific one. I do not think that he is suggesting a scientific conspiracy (as you put it). The point he makes through his cited paper is that the effects are not as clear cut or alarming as some would claim in the political arena. I am sure he does not dispute the author’s findings but we will see what he says. He is seeking the balance that seems to be absent in your remarks.

      • Fair enough, Rob. If Chief is making the distinction that you so describe, I welcome his clarification.

        However, I have seen nothing in this thread from Fred that puts him in the political side of that distinction as compared to the scientific side. Fred has been consistent in discussing the science in a way that is entirely consistent with the science as presented in the very link that Chief provided.

      • Joshua –

        Did you read the link? Chief really did “cherry-pick” his quote.

        Either you can’t read or you’ve gotten into prevarication (which I wouldn’t have thought of you)

        From the link –

        some shell-building creatures—such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters—unexpectedly build more shell when exposed to ocean acidification caused by elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

        found that seven of the 18 shelled species they observed actually built more shell when exposed to varying levels of increased acidification.

        “What was really interesting was that some of the creatures, the coral, the hard clam and the lobster, for example, didn’t seem to care about CO2 until it was higher than about 1,000 parts per million [ppm].”

        1,000 ppm – a number that Max has shown several times to be unattainable by burning ALL known fossil reserves on the planet. .

        The “take-home message, “ says Cohen, is that “we can’t assume that elevated CO2 causes a proportionate decline in calcification of all calcifying organisms.”

        “Some organisms were very sensitive,” Cohen said, “some that have commercial value. But there were a couple that didn’t respond to CO2 or didn’t respond till it was sky-high—about 2,800 parts per million. We’re not expecting to see that [CO2 level] anytime soon.”

        I would expect that we’re not likely to see 2800 ppm for a long, long time.

        The researchers caution, however, that the findings—and acidification’s overall impact—may be more complex than it appears. For example, Cohen says that available food and nutrients such as nitrates, phosphates and iron may help dictate how some organisms respond to carbon dioxide.

        “May” = speculation, which has no place in a scientific paper.

        “We have found that corals for example, that have plenty of food and nutrients can be less sensitive” to CO2. “In this study, the organisms were well fed and we didn’t constrain the nutrient levels.

        [sarc on] Doesn’t he know the coral are dying because of “acidification”? [ /sarc]

        Since the industrial revolution, Ries noted, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased from 280 to nearly 400 ppm. Climate models predict levels of 600 ppm in 100 years, and 900 ppm in 200 years.

        So now we’re predicting 100 -200 years in advance. Even though we can’t predict temperatures a year in advance? Horse puckey.

        Nor do predictions have any place in a scientific paper.

        “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

        So – the obligatory it’s the fault of the CO2 statement.

        Read it again, Josh – you missed the important parts.

      • Jim – I don’t want to get into a “cherry picking” debate, but you cited a passage Robert Ellison omitted, to the effect that adequate nutrient supply of the kind utilized in the experiment can reduce the sensitivity of corals to elevated CO2. Even with nutrition aside, however, the laboratory experiments did not attempt to simulate the conditions under which natural corals construct their shells. In the wild, corals are prey to other organisms, and the frictional forces of tides and waves erode shells. As a result, the corals must form insoluble CaCO3 at a much faster rate than would be necessary if the only limitation were a carbonate concentration at their immediate exterior that was marginally adequate for indolent shell creation.

        The observational record is consistent with damage to some reefs at current levels of CO2, but others have been more resistant. It’s probably fair to say, based on the historical record, that significant further increase in atmospheric CO2 will aggravate the damage – but by how much and to what extent globally is still conjectural, particularly since pH changes have been greater in some ocean regions than in others.

      • Chief –
        Thank you for the reference – I remembered it being out there “somewhere” but hadn’t specifically gone looking for it yet.

        The alarmists need a narrative in a language that is superficially that of dispassionate science – because they need to justify an unpalatable agenda of root and branch transformation of society. I believe in prudent risk management – but I am a bit bored with imminent catastrophe.

        Well said.

      • There are a couple of longer term (10 year) measurements of pH in the oceans that I am aware of. One is in the north-east Pacific and the headline from this study was that ocean acidification was 10 times worse that expected. The problem here is upwelling of more acidic (or less basic) sub-surface water – the study spanned the transition from a positive to negative PDO after 1998.

        Another and seasonal study was in the region of the Humboldt Current – the major region for deep ocean upwelling on the planet and the area that has the open ocean lowest pH. There is indeed a paucity of coral ecosystems in this region.

        The largest changes in pH are as a result of the upwelling – the carbon source is from deep ocean vents and from respiration. Deep ocean volcanic vents are the largest source of carbon by far in the global carbon cycle.

        There are diurnal and seasonal changes in pH in the photic zone from respiration. The ocean is a soup of microscopic phytoplankton.

        The data problem is the typical one of trying to distinguish cause and effect in a very complex system – of measuring impact against a backdrop of large variability. The so-called signal to noise ratio – but here noise is actually a signal of its own.

        Carbon dioxide is the basis of the food chain and it is very complex. Early in my career I struggled with a particular paper that discussed a fourteen compartment carbon model for Chesapeake Bay. Just when I thought I was there – I got to the last sentence which said that a 14 compartment model was far too simple and they needed at least 50 compartments.

        The problem is always to design an appropriately detailed data acquisition program – but then to evaluate the limitations of the data. What can it reasonably tell you about the nature of the changes investigated? In the case of ocean acidification – the spatial and temporal limitations of direct measurement of pH can say very little about the causes of pH changes. Fred’s insistence that an average ocean pH change from 8.2 to 8.1 units can and has been measured directly is nonsense. This is in fact calculated in models with far fewer than 50 carbon compartments.

        My professional specialisation is the movement of water and substances through the hydrosphere, biosphere and the pedosphere. I have spent many hours staring at chemical and physical analysis of sea water. What I know without a doubt is that there are significant limitations to our ability to gain comprehensive water quality data – and to interpret what we do get. Mesoscale and microscale experiments can help but there are theoretical limitations to the applicability of these to the real world.

        Fred’s inexperience in evaluating data sources and data limitations is a problem. In education – there are ideas in any field that are known as threshold concepts. If these are not mastered – then there is little chance of moving on to a broad perspective on the field. The principles and limitations of experimental design is an essential understanding in many fields.

        I stand accused of selectively quoting a study from the WHOI. Well yes – I quoted and it is relevant. It says that corals don’t have a problem except with very high levels of atmospheric CO2. The unsurprising result is that organisms are adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. This shows the other problem – discounting on spurious grounds findings that don’t agree with a predisposition.

        I did say that modifying complex ecological systems at the base of the ocean food chain was probably not a good idea – but it is all not much more than speculation.

        “It’s hard to predict the overall net effect on benthic marine ecosystems,” he says. “In the short term, I would guess that the net effect will be negative. In the long term, ecosystems could re-stabilize at a new steady state.

        Over egging the pudding is counter productive. If there is a conspiracy – it is to scare the public with end of the world scenarios that Joe Public is not hearing anymore. To the rest of us these seem either pathologically ‘millennialist’ in nature or a deliberate scare campaign in a supposed good cause. There are social democrats. The insidious and genocidal horror of this philosophy can’t be overestimated. They will use any lie to destroy society from the centre. Then there are the true believers. They take themselves to be champions of scientific enlightenment battling the minions of the dark forces. Come to the dark side Fred – it is much more fun.

      • This is a duplicate of a response to Robert Ellison (Chief Hydrologist) that did not go through. Only one of the two should be posted.

        ” I stand accused of selectively quoting a study from the WHOI. Well yes – I quoted and it is relevant. It says that corals don’t have a problem except with very high levels of atmospheric CO2….Fred’s inexperience in evaluating data sources and data limitations is a problem”

        Robert – I do my best to evaluate a large variety of data sources, including those I’ve referenced on ocean acidification and its biological consequences – perhaps other readers can visit those to determine whether they agree that the harms are real and increasing or whether they believe I’ve somehow misinterpreted what others have written.

        In this regard, it might be worthwhile for you to read what the author of the study you cite, Justin Ries, believes is a correct interpretation of his study, and whether you have evaluated it accurately or whether the accusations of selective quoting have some merit. The full commentary is at Justin Ries. Some excerpts are the following (but readers should read the entire piece for more detail):

        “The greatest challenge to doing this research is not the science—that is actually the fun part! The most challenging aspect is responding to the manipulation and distortion of our scientific results by those seeking to further a specific political, social, or economic agenda. Many individuals and groups have publicly interpreted our results as evidence that ocean acidification is not a cause for alarm.

        What they overlooked is the fact that 10 of the 18 species that we investigated exhibited a very negative response to ocean acidification. In fact, the shells of six of the 10 species that responded negatively actually began to dissolve on a net basis under the highest CO2 condition. I am perplexed by how anyone could interpret the negative response of 10 of 18 key marine species as a good thing. Benthic marine ecosystems are finely tuned and well-balanced systems. The decline of even one key species can cause major problems for the ecosystem as a whole.

        I think that our results underscore the urgency of addressing the world’s CO2 problem. Ten of the 18 species investigated exhibited a very negative calcification response to elevated CO2—with the shells of six species actually showing dissolution. The organisms that were investigated were selected not only because they are key members of benthic marine ecosystems, but also because many of them form the basis of the multibillion dollar global shellfish and dive-tourism industries.

        This work contributes to the growing body of evidence that CO2-induced ocean acidification presents a real threat not only to marine ecosystems, but also to human economies. Hopefully, this evidence will be duly considered by the legislators and policymakers that have the power to curb CO2 emissions—before the effects become irreversible over human timescales”.

        I’ve also read the published paper in Geology, at Marine Calcifiers. It confirms my earlier assessment that the experiments, while interesting, provided a much more favorable environment for the marine organisms than is found in the wild. This is particularly true of corals. Because of both bioerosion and physical erosion from waves and tides, corals cannot calcify adequately unless the local environment is supersaturated with regard to carbonate conversion into aragaonite, at a level at least 3.3 times the equilibrium saturation level. The figure (Ω) is obtained as (Ca+2)(CO3-2)/Ksp, where Ksp is the solubility product constant. In the published work, even the most favorable conditions (CO2 as low as 409 ppm, which is only slightly greater than current levels) yielded a Ω value of only 2.5. In other words, the lowest pCO2 created seawater conditions inadequate for long term coral calcification in the wild. Under the experimental conditions, however, the marine organisms were well fed and protected from environmental insults, and metabolic demands that stressed their ability to protect themselves by manipulating local pH at their surface were placed on them for only 60 days. In addition, the single actual coral species tested (temperate coral) did in fact exhibit reduced calcification as CO2 levels and hydrogen ion concentrations were raised.

        I have to conclude that your commentary was grossly inaccurate in that you misrepresented the particular study, the overall state of our knowledge of ocean acidification and its threats to marine life, and the accuracy with which I have understood and presented the evidence. This is not a pretense on my part to complete knowledge of this complex element of climate, but I will stand by the claim that when I do make a statement, it is an accurate reflection of the source material. Readers familiar with the evidence can judge our respective accuracies for themselves.

      • Through my carelessness, the last two paragraphs above, which were my own points, were italicized. The italics should have ended at the end of the quotation from Jusstin Ries.

      • You should be whipped with an italicized noodle!

      • Italics still on? Hopefully not.

      • This will I hope correct the above WordPress errors for my full name and URL.

      • ‘Our experiments suggest that the response of calcifying marine
        organisms to elevated atmospheric pCO2 will be variable and complex.
        However, with the data at hand, it is difficult to predict how these changes
        in calcification will impact organisms’ survival, reproductive success, and
        overall ecosystem health. Even those organisms showing enhanced calci-
        fication under elevated pCO2 could be negatively impacted by the decline of less CO2 – tolerant species within their ecosystems. We have only begun to generate the data needed to assess CO2 – driven impacts on organisms and ecosystems in the geologic past, and to anticipate the effects of anthropogenic ocean acidification in the decades and centuries ahead.’

        There is sufficient cause for prudence in both the terrestrial and marine environment – as I keep saying. Most especially as populations and ecologies are examples of dynamically complex systems.

        Fred – you are the worst kind of alarmist and do no service to science, the environment or humanity by your inane claims to a transcendent understanding.

      • Robert – You should learn to lose gracefully.

      • ‘Our experiments suggest that the response of calcifying marine
        organisms to elevated atmospheric pCO2 will be variable and complex.
        However, with the data at hand, it is difficult to predict how these changes
        in calcification will impact organisms’ survival, reproductive success, and
        overall ecosystem health. Even those organisms showing enhanced calci-
        fication under elevated pCO2 could be negatively impacted by the decline of less CO2 – tolerant species within their ecosystems. We have only begun to generate the data needed to assess CO2 – driven impacts on organisms and ecosystems in the geologic past, and to anticipate the effects of anthropogenic ocean acidification in the decades and centuries ahead.’

        There is sufficient cause for prudence in both the terrestrial and marine environment – as I keep saying. Most especially as populations and ecologies are examples of dynamically complex systems.

        Fred – you are the worst kind of alarmist and do no service to science, the environment or humanity. You go well beyond any semblance to the reality of the state of knowledge. As I have said before – you create a qualitative narrative and raise your standard to it in a claim to absolute truth that is simply an absurdity.

      • Sorry – this did appear twice.

        But – tell me Fred which bit of variable and complex don’t you understand?

      • Joe Sixpack

        My mates would describe him as an ignorant bullshitter. And a windbag with no scientific judgement.

      • Chief – you selectively quoted from the article – dismissing the quotes that reference potential thread of acidification – so as to support the following conclusion:

        The alarmists need a narrative in a language that is superficially that of dispassionate science – because they need to justify an unpalatable agenda of root and branch transformation of society.

        There was no way to get from a full reading of the article to your summary without selective quotation – which excluded “dispassionate science,” contained therein, that justified “prudence” but had absolutely nothing to do with a “root and branch transformation of society.”

        You then continued by explaining that you are “a bit bored with imminent catastrophe” with the strong implication that Fred had described such. Would you mind explaining where Fred did that?

        IMO, you do yourself a disservice here by leaving “prudence” behind in your interactions with Fred. Take it for what it’s worth.

  36. Latimer,

    Its not a question of “frighten(ing) us all to death”. In fact, unless you’ve a lot more years remaining before your actual death than I would guess you might have, I’d like to just reassure you, even though I know you’ll say it is unnecessary, that you personally won’t come to any harm at all during your lifetime from any effects of AGW.

    However, what about future generations? Do you give a stuff about them? If not, then your current POV does make a lot of sense for you personally.

    • The most annoying sniveling argument is the future generations bs AGW believers pitch. You have no evidence at all that any of your ridiculous policies regarding windmills or shutting down cola plants will do anything at all to help future generations.
      You have no evidence to support your ridiculous social mania. Only your fervent faith.
      You simply in your hubris assume you are right and that none of the demonstrated failures of your policies matter. And then you assume that skeptics somehow do not care about our children or grandchildren, setting the ground to declare us some sort of criminals worthy of an AGW court. Which more than a few of your nasty scum bag opinion leaders have suggested, by the way.

    • Latimer Alder

      Ahhh…the ‘will nobody think of the children’ line. The final refuge of special pleading when the arguments run out.

      Sure I’d like my offspring to have comfortable well-fed warm and happy lives. Most people would.

      What was your next point?

    • Temterrain –
      I have children – and grandchildren. And eventually I suspect there will be great-grandchildren, etc. And I have no interest in leaving them the world that you apparently envision.

  37. tempterrain

    Hunter,

    You are so really confident that you are right and conventional science is wrong? If people like yourself do succeed in averting effective climate action while it is still possible, future generations will no doubt very much wish that they’d be able to charge you in a criminal court. But, you’ll be safely long gone by then. Nothing for you to worry your head about at all.
    Incidentally, charges in a criminal court are one thing. Deaths threats are quite another.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/04/3235561.htm

    • tempterrain,
      The only thing I am confident of is that you assign to me and my fellow skeptics the typical assignemnt of someone who has no factual argument.
      If people like you succeed in imposing the ruinous policies that AGW is atracted to like maggots to dung, our future will be brutish and horrible, and we have plenty of evidence from your current policy obsessions to prove it.
      The status quo has delivered: more food, more health, more freedom, than ever in the history of mankind.
      You offer nothing except the assumption that you are right. No evidence, nothing but your fervent reasonless faith in being right.

    • Latimer Alder

      What an interesting and revealing comment. Are you a member of the 10:10 campaign?

      And would you care to outline which criminal charges you think could be brought? And the evidence for them?

      Because if you can’t, your post is content-free.

      FWIW neither I nor any other sceptics that I know has issued death threats to anyone. An occasional ‘grrrr’ at the keyboard, perhaps.

      I leave ti ot the Greenpeace guy to do that sort of stuff:.

      ‘If you’re one of those who have spent their lives undermining progressive climate legislation, bankrolling junk science, fueling spurious debates around false solutions, and cattle-prodding democratically-elected governments into submission, then hear this:

      We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.

      And we be many, but you be few’

      Such a charming turn of phrase. And soooo polite.

  38. Comparing satellites with tide gauges is incredibly dishonest since it doesn’t point out that tide gauges have not themselves shown any recent upturn away from the same old boring linear trend. Once again Judith forwards utter nonsense without commenting on it. I had to quick scan the comments above and I didn’t see much if any discussion of this apples vs. oranges switcheroo.

    A good sea level debunking blog is at: http://climatesanity.wordpress.com

    I got screamed at on an AGW enthusiast site, told I should be ashamed of myself, that I was stupid, that I didn’t really have a Ph.D., that blah blah blah…for posting a chart of representative tide gauge records (http://oi53.tinypic.com/2i6os4y.jpg). However, the one valid point was a lack of publishing my collection in the literature. Well, I thought, let’s dig a few sea level studies up then. Imagine my surprise to not find just linear trends but universal signs of recent deceleration!

    (1) Church and White, the classic purveyors of an exponentially shaped sea level curve, in their latest article update of 2011 (which eliminated the word “accelerating” from the title) plots, in hard-to-see yellow, a simple average of tide gauges, which, once I clean all the dark plots behind it away, shows stark linearity.

    Graph: http://oi51.tinypic.com/28tkoix.jpg
    Reference: http://www.springerlink.com/content/h2575k28311g5146/fulltext.pdf

    (2) Sea levels show deceleration since 1930:

    http://jcronline.org/doi/abs/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00157.1?prevSearch=all%3A+deceleration&searchHistoryKey=

    That’s the USA and Pacific Ocean, and says: “Least-squares quadratic analysis of each of the 57 records are performed to quantify accelerations, and 25 gauge records having data spanning from 1930 to 2010 are analyzed. In both cases we obtain small average sea-level decelerations.”

    (3) http://jcronline.org/doi/abs/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00141.1?prevSearch=all%3A+deceleration&searchHistoryKey=

    That’s Australia (deceleration since 1940) that says: “The analysis reveals a consistent trend of weak deceleration at each of these gauge sites throughout Australasia over the period from 1940 to 2000. Short period trends of acceleration in mean sea level after 1990 are evident at each site, although these are not abnormal or higher than other short-term rates measured throughout the historical record.”

    (4) http://www.jcronline.org/doi/abs/10.2112/06-0748.1?journalCode=coas

    That one says: “Unambiguous evidence for fingerprints of glacial melting was not found, most likely due to the presence of other signals present in sea-level records that cannot easily be distinguished.”

    (4) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/joc.3370100203/abstract

    That one is Europe and says: “no evidence was found for MSL accelerations significantly different from zero over the period 1870 to the present.”

    (5) http://www.joelschwartz.com/pdfs/Holgate.pdf

    That one is a world wide sampling that says: “The rate of sea level change was found to be larger in the early part of last century.”

    (6) http://research.fit.edu/sealevelriselibrary/documents/doc_mgr/403/Pacific_Introduction_to_SLR_-_Mitchell_et_al.pdf

    That one was the Pacific based on the longest records available which says: “The estimated average rate of sea level rise from the longest records is computed to be +0.3 mm/yr, almost an order of magnitude less than the IPCC estimates.”

    (7) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/joc.1771/abstract

    That one was Europe and N. America which says: “Most sea-level data originate from Europe and North America, and both the sets display evidence for a positive acceleration, or ‘inflexion’, around 1920–1930 and a negative one around 1960. These inflexions are the main contributors to reported accelerations since the late 19th century, and to decelerations during the mid- to late 20th century.”

    (8) A study by one of the RealClimate team (Rahmstorf 2007 as discussed on http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/). He got his acceleration via adjustment to *actual* sea levels to account for land based water reservoirs while ignoring ground water pumping to the surface. This swam right through peer review. Such adjustments are highly speculative at best and simply fantasy at worst for they do not reflect *actual* sea level changes!

    • Nik,
      Don’t you see?
      Any allegation of evidence to support doom is valid. Any counter evidence is simply ignored, as we see Fred deomonstrate.
      Just as the sad case of Tempterrain shows, there is no ability in the true believer to question if they are even correct in their assesment. He knows he cares for his children. Since we disagree with him, we are child killing monsters.
      The sea level myth, like the OA myth, depends on rigged evidence, confusion of models with data, and a deep abiding faith.

    • Theo Goodwin

      Good work. Thanks for the information.

    • Nikfrom NYC

      Thanks for the many references to sea level studies.

      It is clear that sea level rise has shown no real acceleration in the latter part of he 20th century, and possibly even a slight deceleration most recently.

      Tempterrain likes to throw out silly comparisons with post-glacial rise to show that we will all be under water by year 2100, but this is pure fear-mongering.

      Max

  39. Question from a Scientific Ignoramus concerning Ocean ‘acidification’
    If atmospheric concentrations of CO2 rise and SST’s rise wouldn’t the outgassing of CO2 slow down the rate of ‘acidification’?

    • Latimer Alder

      Like warming up a can of Coke (or Pepsi :-) ) make sit fizz and then go flat?

      Good question!! Should tax somebody’s physical chemistry knowledge to show that ‘it will be worse than you think’

  40. It’s Ok Latimer, I think I’ve worked out the answer. The level of outgassing would need to be adjusted to match the models with observations.
    It works for UHI, sea-level, wind-shear, Mannomatics and Tiljander deposits so it must be OK for ‘acidification’
    I am right. Aren’t I?

  41. Oops, missed the Elephant in the room until I saw the buttery pachyderm footprints on the carpet.
    That would be a negative feedback and thus disallowed in climate Psyience!
    Silly me.