Week in review – water edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

Asia and Africa

Linking India’s #rivers: critics rally to protest plans [link]

A Deceleration of Sea Level Rise Along the Indian Coastline  [link]

The Weaponization of #Water in #Syria and #Iraq [link]

What Kenya’s biggest slum can teach us about saving cities from floods [link]

#Hydropower’s Future Looks Dim as Heat & #Drought Intensify [link]


“In order to comply with… EU we had to stop dredging …”  [link]

British Pathe – Floods Of The Past  [link]

Learning to live with floods will be key to UK policy review [link]

The impact of flooding lasts much, much longer than the media coverage. We need flood resilient homes & communities. [link]

UK Met Office:  What’s been happening with our weather [link]

Exploding some “urban myths” about Flooding  [link]


A Vital Look at Ignored Realities in Midwest Flood Zone [link]

Op-ed: Water rules show EPA’s overreach [link]

Greening the Los Angeles River – plans to store vital stormwater instead of gushing out to sea [link]

Love how commodities investor, facing corn/soy glut, pines for weather shock: [link]

197 responses to “Week in review – water edition

  1. Pingback: Week in review – water edition |

  2. To continue the ECS/clouds’ uncertainty debate: So the IPCC projections that say we may expect X, Y or Z degrees temperature excursion in 2100 if keep to A, B, or C carbon emission scenarios should have error bars on the X, Y and Z — roughly what are those error bars?

    Is the Kaya et al. 2015 paper the best for evaluating this (below)? Or is there another?


    • WTF does this have to do with the topic of this thread? I find it extremely rude to hijack the comments of a thread for your own particularly unrelated hobby horse. Get your own room. /rant

  3. Regarding UK rainfall, I find this page interesting.
    It covers 1910-2012, and 50% of the top twenty wettest years have been since 1992 when by the odds you would only expect about 20%. There is a trend towards wetter, so it is not just dredging issues but also a climate shift.

    • Jimd

      I have had this discussion with the met office as they are not comparing like for like with their 1910 record

      there has been an increasing change from lowland city rain stations in the drier south to ones that include the wetter west and at greater altitude which collectively are bound to show more rainfall.

      To get a more balanced picture you need to select those same stations that have a record throughout the period from 1910


      • The Met Office produced those numbers. What makes you think the number of added stations would make a difference to the total? How many stations were added versus the total and are these representative of large previously completely missing areas or just local blips in the pattern? These are the relevant questions.

      • Kind

        The older stations are generally from the established lowland locations such as universities or from those towns where people, scholars or the gentry, had time and inclination to collect the data.

        over the years stations were established in more out of the way places, for example from farms at height in the west of the country rather than the lowland and southern biased cities.

        l live on the coast some fifteen miles from an upland town that has some three times the rainfall of my town.

        location and height make a huge difference with rainfall levels in this country

        if you want to do a fair comparison you must use the same stations from 1910 to today.


      • Curious George

        If you want to do a fair comparison .. who the hell would want to do a fair comparison? We want to support The Cause.

      • My bush experience of rainfall:

        1) I can walk to places which are drier/wetter than my own within an hour or two.

        2) Rainfall changes in quantity and pattern, both in cyclical and linear ways. (Eastern Australia wetter after my birth in 1949 following half century of rainfall deficit post-1895. Northern Australia much wetter post-1970. SW tip of continent drier in recent decades.)

        3) Don’t like climate change? Find another planet.

      • tonyb, and what makes you think that the Met Office climatologists don’t know how to compare rainfall through the decades from station records? It is not going to be a simple thing such as take the annual total from all the stations and divide by the number of stations. They have to create an area map to integrate the rainfall total properly over the UK and allow for station density. There are techniques that climatologists use for this kind of thing, and your challenge is to come up with a better one.

      • jimd

        my better method is not to compare apples with oranges as you seem to think is the correct way to go.

      • You seem to be sure that the Met Office are doing this by publishing a list of years with UK rainfall totals. How can you be so sure they got it wrong? Does it surprise you that the climate there has become wetter in the last couple of decades?

    • These articles provide more background on dredging policy on the UK.




      The reduction in dredging was influenced by EU rules but, as is often the case, these were “gold plated” by UK institutions such as the environment agency. The policy has in fact been to a large extent reversed by Owen Paterson the Environment Secretary, before he was sacked by the PM for being too sensible.

    • David Springer

      27% of the top eleven wettest years are from the 6 year period 1923-1928 when you would only expect about 6%.

      Wow! I mean really WOW!!!!


  4. Re: A Deceleration of Sea Level Rise Along the Indian Coastline

    I’m not sure which is more interesting: Parker & Ollier’s sea level research or the fact that there is an Arabian Journal of Geosciences.

    • I wonder if the authors are psychologically prepared for the onslaught of personal attacks for having the temerity of suggesting there is not an acceleration of SLR. Just like Houston and Dean, there will not be much coverage in the MSM. Why should there be, it would just raise a bunch of messy questions. My advice to the two? Watch what you throw away in your garbage.

    • There is a problem with the satellite sea level computations.

      There is an easy way to figure out what it is.

      Amend the grant language (and kick in a few more bucks for the next grant) and require by law that they produce their sea level estimate for about 500 current tidal gauges. The gauges would be specified in the authorizing language and would be chosen by the following criterion:

      1. Geographical distribution (even coverage of the world)
      2. Length of record (longest wins)
      3. Lowest net rise (if two or more stations match the criterion pick the lowest one).

      This would allow direct comparison of the satellite data to conditions on the ground.

      If their new global plots show “dimples” everywhere there is a tidal gauge we will know they are cheating.

      If there is already a table of this sort please point it out.

      • Tide gauges are on land.

      • Tidal gauges are on water. If they didn’t indicate low tide they wouldn’t have much value.

      • David Springer

        Looks like tide gauges are in the water according to sealevel.colorado.edu

        How about it, Wojick? Stop blurting and start fact checking.


      • Sorry, I forgot that you folks don’t get jokes. Hint: tide gauges can’t be on land, there being no tide there. My point is that tide gauges are very close to land, so they are heavily influenced by local factors like wind and storm surges. Onshore wind raises the tide while offshore lowers it. Moreover, gauges are typically lying within harbors or bays, which increase these effects. Then too if there are waves, which is common, the tide gauge may not average them out accurately.

        As a result tide gauge readings may differ from open ocean elevations by a foot or more. Thus PS’s proposed test does not work, plus I doubt that satellites can provide local readings with much resolution. If it is to the square kilometer then most of what the satellite is reading will be land. Hence my joke. Tide gauges are a poor instrument at best.

      • Your cartoon is funny David, because it shows the gauge reading something called MSL, presumably Mean Sea Level, as though that were a naturally occurring thing. MSL may not even exist, just as the length of a shoreline does not exist per se, because it is heavily scale dependent.

      • David Springer

        1. Of course MSL is “mean sea level”. It’s used everywhere after an altitude is given unless AGL is used which is “above ground level”. MSL exists. Your scientific literacy may not.

        2. It’s not “my” cartoon it’s an illustration produced by Colorado University Sea Level Research Group.

      • David, “MSL exists” is not a argument, just an assertion. Suppose we have irregular four foot waves, a common condition in many places The value of the mean will be highly dependent on the scale of the measuring instrument. How closely does the tide gauge trace the surface of the water, if at all? The calculated mean will depend heavily on this. But this is math, not science, measure theory to be exact.

        Having studied this issue at great length my conclusion is that the tide gauges are often only accurate to a foot or so. Yet they generate annual average measurements to a few millimeters, which are then globally averaged, also to just a few millimeters. It is simply not mathematically possible that these estimates are accurate.

        Oh and it is your cartoon in the sense that you posted it.

      • David

        I understand your points, but ultimately the threat to society is at the shore not far out to sea. And we can’t gain much in the mean levels. We need to be concerned mile by mile at the shoreline and develop mitigation strategies using the same approach.

      • Yes, an old, old story.

      • Ceresco, sorry for some reason the reply function repeated my prior reply, regarding bovine flatulence. In any case the point I am making here is simply one of instrumental inaccuracy, hence uncertainty. As for the shore, sea level there dominated by plate tectonics, making global SLR largely irrelevant. Not much we can do about tectonics, except adapt (not mitigate).

      • David Wojick | January 18, 2016 at 10:19 am |

        Having studied this issue at great length my conclusion is that the tide gauges are often only accurate to a foot or so.

        Umm. Right. And the multiple studies that you pulled this assertion from were???

        I’m interested in the scholarship behind this comment.

      • PA, the scholarship is mine. I do original research, often on measure theory,and I spent several years on the tide gauge issue. I have explained the physical basis for my reasoning. Happy to elaborate, but asking questions is not a strength of this group.

      • http://www.vliz.be/imisdocs/publications/258249.pdf

        They are claiming 1 cm or better accuracy.

      • PA, their 1 cm is the claimed accuracy in reading the water level. My original point is that the local water level is often not the sea level. The local level may vary from sea level by a foot or more at times. Plus I do not think that accuracy is possible when there are significant waves, as there is no way to accurately determine the average depth. Note too that if the accuracy were 1 cm then one could not get accurate averages to a few mm, which they claim to do, both locally and globally.

      • David Wojick | January 19, 2016 at 6:53 am |
        PA, their 1 cm is the claimed accuracy in reading the water level. My original point is that the local water level is often not the sea level.

        1. You do raise a good point for another question. The satellite anomaly can be compared to the tidal gauge anomaly but not the actual levels. And it would be an interpreted anomaly (the satellites measure along lines 100 miles apart and just measure the line not a swath). To accurately calibrate the satellites you would have to ram measurement poles into the sea bed exactly along the flight path of the satellite.

        2. A very accurate measuring device (as some of them are) can be made by having the float in a large well with a small hole in the bottom. The sea level is the average level for a period of several minutes.

        3. The sea level is different in a bay than the ocean – but you would have to demonstrate that there is a systemic difference when the level changes.. The average level in Chesapeake bay goes up 1 inch when the average ocean sea level goes up 1 inch.

    • The SLR we’ve had since the late 1700s has been pretty feeble anyway. Pick a well observed and geologically stable mark and let’s see:

      As Peggy Lee would say: Is that all there is?

      • One of my favorite records. No matter how many times I look, I still can’t find an acceleration in the rate of rise. This is certainly more in line with what the authors found in their study than the consensus view. It may take a few more similar studies to at least generate a reconsideration of what is really going on.

      • Apart from some erosion or post-glacial heaving, I don’t think anybody has been able to find much SLR. I guess if they keep saying it’s so…it’ll be so!

        Spending time lately with urban professionals, I noticed how even the conservatives among them simply queue up for their opinions from culturally acceptable sources of information. These people are brighter and more capable than the likes of me, but also busy and in need of an opinion set which will stand them in good stead socially and in the work place. In Australia, that means they get much if not most of their info from the Pravda-like ABC, staffed by pompous senior journos, shrieking convent girl presenters and giggly manboy comedians.

        If the ABC tells these bright, capable people there is serious sea level rise, or implies it constantly, it becomes reality.

        It’s mostly the influential upper-middle and professional classes which are being zombified by the climatariat. Just look at the NYT readership who lap up Revkin’s “moderate” slop.

        As Winston Smith might say: The hope is in the proles!

      • Well…

        If you do the math it takes about 260 W-Years of power to warm the top 2000 meters 1°C. If you assume a triangular distribution (all warming at top, none on the bottom) it is 130 W-Years to warm the top 1°C.

        Since 1900 it has gotten 0.7°C warmer. How long will it take to warm the ocean at 0.2 W or 0.3 W (the current rate)?

        The answer is quite a while. Once it is done it is done though. If you assume 1/3 natural, 1/3 ALW, and 1/3 AGW it will top out sometime around mid-century (ALW doesn’t affect the ocean).

        So I expect the sea level to top out around 2050.

  5. The UK met office link above regarding floods says:

    “As for whether climate change has played a role, we know that the overall warming of the oceans increases the moisture content of the atmosphere by around 6% for every 1°C warming. This extra moisture provides additional energy to the developing weather system, enabling even more moisture to be drawn in to the system, so that the overall enhancement of rainfall when the moisture-laden air impinges on the mountains of Wales, northern England and Scotland may be even more significant. So from basic physical understanding of weather systems it is entirely plausible that climate change has exacerbated what has been a period of very wet and stormy weather arising from natural variability.”


    Does the same apply to desert regions, and can we expect the deserts to bloom due to increasing temperatures?

    • “Entirely plausible” is a fancy term for pure speculation.

    • Thanks — yes, my point was even if it is true, is it a bad thing that UK gets flooded and the Sahara starts blooming? Or is nature conspiring to just have bad effects for humans?

  6. You link to a uk farmer complaining about the lack of dredging being a major cause of flooding in cumbria

    This is hardly news. Two years ago Michael eavis, who runs Glastonbury festival complained of exactly the same problem with regards to the somerset flooding


    the ea are much more interested in wild life and are bound by European union rules anyway. I was on the committee that five years ago instructed the ea to dredge the somerset levels but they had an agenda to create a wetland for a bird sanctuary and did not carry out the work needed which was dredging and reinstatement of pumps


  7. In the piece on the Weaponization of Water in Syria and Iraq, it was pointed out that conflicts over water go back 4500 years. Since this region is dominated by arid and semi-arid lands, a more challenging article might have been to write about the century when there were no conflicts. Oversimplication seems to characterize a lot of material involving climate change.

  8. The Revkin piece is the usual song. First the 100 and 500 year floods have changed due to climate change and bad(?) management of land. In reality we have no idea what these flood levels are because you cannot get an accurate estimate of either from 150 years worth of data. That the present estimates are far too low is no surprise, as that is precisely what happens when you use a very short period.. You need something like 10 to 20 times the frequency period to get a good estimate of it. This is simple statistical theory.

    Then the way to reduce flood damages is to stop building (and farming) where there are floods. That is stupid in most cases and impossible in some. A little like reducing fire risk by not building wooden houses. Yes it works but the economic downside is horrendous. A fine example of single purpose thinking.

    We had a US flood control program that was going to greatly reduce some of this flooding, using dams, the obvious solution. It was killed by the greens in 1968. I think we still have most of the design documents for the unbuilt dams, which are the majority..

    • Revkin didn’t say anything about the history of flooding in the NYC area. I would like to hear the reactions of the NYC folks if the same standards on building in flood prone areas are applied to NYC as are proposed for the Midwest.

    • Seems the 1993 flood was well adjusted compared to the latest one, which might lead us to the conclusion that things are getting worse due to you-know-what. Of course, nobody is thrusting that conclusion upon us…

      But in case we fail to reach the conclusion, there is to be no mention of the BIGGIE.

      It’s so good that the NYT and Andy Revkin, that tricky scamp, are always there to protect us from information we shouldn’t have. Clever, benevolent NYT!

    • When my brother and I were taking my wife to a friend’s place this morning, we crossed the James River in Richmond on an Interstate “highway”. I noted that the roadway was much lower than that of the railway bridge not too far away and the river was 40-50 ft below. This caused both of us to remember the flooding of the James River some years past. He remarked that this Interstate portion would have been under water back then. Indeed, we both lived through the 1969 flood, when no bridge in the area was open. When one did, he was one of the first to drive across it to visit me; he observed that the water level was just a few feet below the bridge surface. A 100-year flood to be sure; maybe a 500-year one, we were told! Well, in 1972, there was an even more severe flood! So, the City of Richmond built flood walls. No floods since. Seems that building the flood walls has fended off the floods! :) Reminds me of wearing garlic around your neck to ward off vampires. Effective as you will not encounter vampires, but then again you may ward off your friends, if the garlic ripens much! Cause and effect here? Nope; just meaningless correlation; except maybe the friend bit!

      The info below is from the USGS: http://md.water.usgs.gov/publications/wsp-2375/va/

      The flood of August 1969 was one of the most disastrous in Virginia.
      The flood of June 1972 was the largest recorded – 4.1 feet higher than in 1969.

      The most severe drought of this century (in Va) was in 1930-3; another from 1962-71. An analysis of droughts since 1930 indicates that drought occurs, on average, about once every 10 years, with variation in duration and severity.

      JMW- note that all of this flood and drought behavior occurred before CO2 was considered a problem.

  9. Every nine out of 10 years, Iowa farmer Dave Sieck expects the Missouri River to stay in its banks near his farmland in Glenwood, Iowa, about 15 miles south of Council Bluffs.
    [ … ]
    “It’s a never-ending battle, especially on the bigger rivers,” he said. “We plan on losing a crop once or twice every 10 years.”
    [ … ]
    “A farmer’s whole job is to manage and mitigate risks that Mother Nature throws at you and hope to get a high-quality crop that you can sell and make money,” Sieck said.


    • Not a problem if it is just a crop. You win some and you lose some. The problem is expanding urban and suburban developments in flood plains, because flood plains have floods. I would think the insurance industry would put the beaks on this process. What do the insurance folks think?

      • “brakes”, not beaks, though beaks sounds funny in that context. :)

      • Private insurers do not generraly issue flood insurance, ironically because the pool is not big enough, unlike fire, collision, life, etc. That is why we have Federal flood insurance.

        We cannot stay out of the flood plains. They are too big (and flat).

      • “We cannot stay out floodplains…”

        Then there will be flood.

      • Under federal law, the purchase of flood insurance is mandatory for all federal or federally related financial assistance for the acquisition and/or construction of buildings in high-risk flood areas (Special Flood Hazard Areas or SFHAs).
        [ … ]
        If the property is not in a high-risk area, but instead in a moderate-to-low risk area, federal law does not require flood insurance; however, a lender can still require it. In fact, nearly 1 in 4 NFIP flood claims occur in these moderate- to low-risk areas! Note that if during the life of the loan the maps are revised and the property is now in the high-risk area, your lender will notify you that you must purchase flood insurance.

        And who provides the flood insurance? We do.

        Millions of American property owners get flood insurance from the federal government, and a lot of them get a hefty discount. But over the past decade, the government has paid out huge amounts of money after floods, and the flood insurance program is deeply in the red.

        Congress tried to fix that in 2012 by passing a law to raise insurance premiums. Now that move has created such uproar among property owners that Congress is trying to make the law it passed disappear.


      • rovingbroker,

        Thanks for the info – very valuable.

        It is hard to take away a free lunch once given.

        That program should be cancelled and replaced with private insurance with a realistic assessment of risk. What a joke! Btw, isn’t that considered a moral hazard?

      • Justin, you seem to have missed my point that private insurers do not povide flood insurance. If they did it would be so expensive that no one would buy it. Federal flood insurance is FORCED on people, via deposit insured lenders, which is most banks. I have seen properties rendered worthless because of high Federal flood insurance requirements.

        As for your statement that “Then there will be flood” you are ignoring the fact that the technology exists to greatly reduce major floods, possibly even to largely eliminate them. It is called flood control dams.

      • David,

        “Justin, you seem to have missed my point that private insurers do not povide flood insurance. If they did it would be so expensive that no one would buy it. Federal flood insurance is FORCED on people, via deposit insured lenders, which is most banks. I have seen properties rendered worthless because of high Federal flood insurance requirements.”

        The only difference, I think, between flood insurance and fire insurance – here in California – is that the government does not force it upon you. Lenders do. Since they are required, by California law, to also offer optional earthquake insurance if they sell fire, policies are expensive and some providers choose not to sell in Ca, or they choose not to sell in certain neighborhoods. If you have a mortgage you have to buy it or the lender will buy it and put the cosonion your mortgage payment. If you don’t pay, you are in default and can lose your home and maybe your very large 20% down payment. If you can afford to buy property with cash it’s no problem, you just assume the risk. Property is expensive in Ca so not too many people can do that. Unless rovingbroker is wrong, that is a big difference.

        I claim that paying people, with tax dollars, to “assume” catastrophic risks is bad policy. I put assume in quotes because, in fact, the risk has been transferred to the taxpayer, mixed into the sausage. Is that correct or not?

        I don’t understand why you, an otherwise intelligent commenter, are unable to see the difference.

        “None are so blind as those that refuse to see…”, by somebody.

    • Well…

      The problem along the Mississippi isn’t global warming but people’s choices.

      They dug up a mid 19th century riverboat miles from the river. The river wants to carve a new channel periodically. There unfortunately are farms and homes located at the rivers intended target.

      The riverboat proves that nature has other plans. Fighting nature is like fighting a bear. Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.

      • Except we stopped fighting in 1968, thanks to the greens. Do you really believe we cannot control the rivers? We certainly can. The plans to do so already exist. It is a simple engineering problem.

      • David,
        “…simple engineering problem.”

        Famous last words.

      • “simple englineering”

        You can channelize the river. This moves the problem elsewhere and screws up the local hydrology.

        The truth lies somewhere between the eco-insane back to nature folks and the Corp of Engineering which would turn the rivers into the equivalent of the Beverly Hillbilies’ cement pond.

        Perhaps requiring new construction near the river be elevated would be better than ever higher levees.

      • After the Wivenhoe Dam flood, I had a long conversation with a dam engineer on one of the Missouri River dams in South Dakota. They are large dams. He had not heard about the events in Australia, so while we were on the phone he googled Wivenhoe and was looking at the news stories as we talked. He said “Wow!” a lot. The decisions forced upon the Wivenhoe operators are the nightmare the dam operators of the world do not want to have. Later that year there was an abrupt snow melt in the Missouri River basin, and he was soon in the thick of it. They had to flood areas below their dams. I would think the Missouri River is among the most engineered river systems, but maybe not. Since my childhood,when they were still building dams there, that snow-melt year was bad. Most years are no problem at all.

      • JCH, I doubt that the giant Missouri River dams like Fort Peck have much of a flood control function, if any. Flood control works via a large number of smaller dams on the tributary rivers. Basically you catch and hold the water throughout the watershed. Absent these distributed dams there is no way to retain the water on the big rivers, as by that time there is just too much of it.

      • The US Army Corps of Engineers built Fort Peck Dam for flood control, irrigation, navigation and domestic water supply.


        The Missouri River was diverted through the four flood control tunnels on June 24, 1937, but Fort Peck Dam was not completed until 1940. A lake 130 miles long, 16 miles wide at its widest and 220 feet deep at the deepest spot was formed by the dam.

      • David – the Missouri River had huge flooding problems before the dams were built. Once built, no… that I know of, that year was only time they had to release water and flood areas below the dams. The irony is it happened shortly after Wivenhoe. They flooded part of Ft. Pierre. There is a brand new bridge south of Springfield. You could not cross that for a very long time because the Nebraska side was flooded. The approach road was under water. It also flooded in Omaha.

  10. Regarding water what do you folks make of this recent Nature paper?


    “Probabilistic reanalysis of twentieth-century sea-level rise”

    and how does it jive with the “A Deceleration of Sea Level Rise Along the Indian Coastline” post?

    • I opine it’s $32. If anyone has bought it…

      SLR is one of these topics where the estimates are wildly different depending on who’s talking, yet everyone agrees that they are ‘consistent’ with each other.

    • ybutt -it’s a very good paper. You need to look at the papers that lead to it. It’s the best team of sea level scientists going… led by Mitrovica of Harvard.

      • JCH:

        Thanks for the link. Don’t suppose someone could explain the graphs in Hay, et al.’s, Extended Data Figure 4? (link is below)

        They are testing their infill procedure for missing data against actual data at 5 locations. Yet the y axis on each graph ( “Sea Level (mm)” ) shows only a fraction of a mm in sea level change at each location for several decades. Perhaps this is a typo?

        They also incorrectly (assuming I read the text right) refer in the caption for Ext Fig 4 to 122 sites (when the actual number was 172).

        The paper itself is interesting but it appears to me the results are (at least somewhat) dependent upon their modeled ice melt, etc. It was frequently unclear to me exactly what was meant when they wrote things like “conditional upon the tide gauge observations” or “these techniques extract global information by using the observations, together with model-based geometries (or covariances) associated with the underlying contributions, to estimate (and sum) these contributions.” It’s difficult to discern from the paper itself how much the results did (or did not) depend upon tide gauge observations vs modeled inputs.

        They certainly did a lot of things right in devising and testing their methodology. But it wasn’t possible for me to deny the possibility they also did some things wrong, largely due to my uncertainty over several of their steps. Part of that may be due to length restrictions imposed by the journal. But there simply isn’t enough material presented in the paper for me to fully understand the methods employed.

        If my life depended on it, I would start digging through the references and spend the time necessary to remove doubts one way or the other. Fortunately, it doesn’t.

        Extended Data Figure 4:

      • Real fast, found this, which appears to be the same data for Washington DC:


        Have to go walk the dog.

      • That Nature article shows Washington rising from just after 1900 (where it starts). Pity to leave that bit out. But that’s okay. Older gauges like Brest show a rise from 1800.

        This is because SLR is nothing but the dribble you’d expect after the LIA. It’s obvious, we all sort of know it…but rising to the challenge of unknowing the obvious is what makes the climatariat great.

      • mosomoso:

        …SLR is nothing but the dribble you’d expect after the LIA.

        In broader scope, you could say we’re still in the interglacial melting phase (12k y). But that is why acceleration is so important. If trends are a straight line into the 19th c you cannot refute the null hypothesis. With SLR acceleration correlating to GHG emissions you at least have something to argue about.

        Given the ongoing debate about thermal expansion, meltwater and groundwater contributions, glacial isostatic adjustments, satellite accuracy, etc. it is unlikely that we will resolve the acceleration issue in the next decade or so.

      • JCH:

        Yes, most graphs show SLR at specific sites over the past century measured in hundreds of mm. But in Extended Data Fig 4 they show SLR in hundredths of mm. Typo?

      • …SLR is nothing but the dribble you’d expect after the LIA.

        No, not really. Warming “out” of the LIA would be best described as unexpected.

        1.2mm py from 1900 to 1990… 4.24mm py and going up quickly since 2008:


      • Yes, most graphs show SLR at specific sites over the past century measured in hundreds of mm. But in Extended Data Fig 4 they show SLR in hundredths of mm. Typo?


      • Oplusa – could the scale on Hakata be a tenths of a meter.

      • Have to go walk the dog.

        Yeah, 16F and windy this morning walking mine. She’s Canadian and thinks it rather pleasant. Me, not so much.

      • You really have to wonder how Bass Strait became ocean just ten thousand or so years back. But maybe we can draw a pic of a seven (!) year period during the Optimum when the ocean wasn’t rising so fast.

        That should fix the nasty fact.

      • JCH:

        …4.24mm py and going up quickly since 2008

        So what would you say caused the sharp drops in 2010 and 2013?

    • These two papers provide a nice contrast in how forecasts are derived in the climate science world. The Hay paper is in the ether, with its probabilistic model driven, cubicle oriented theoretical cherry picked data. The other is on the ground, physical data. Ask yourself why Hay used Freemantle as one of the sites, rather than Sydney shown above. If you want to get a sense of the real data, go to the NOAA Tide and Currents page and just look at all the charts yourself. You could also look at Houston and Dean (2011), Watson (2011), Holgate (2007) or Woodworth (2009). Look at NYC, Battery Park from NOAA and then the material in Hay and ask yourself, why the difference.

    • http://geology.rutgers.edu/images/Publications_PDFS/Mitrovia_2015_-_Science_Advances_-_Munks_Enigma.pdf

      This argues for the same 1.2 mm/y based on length of day.

      However the length of day anomaly is going the wrong direction for the rate of sea level rise to be increasing.

      • The same authors agree there is an acceleration of SLR from 1993 to 2010.. 3.0mm per year.

      • Well, that’s interesting.

        We limit our discussion to estimates
        based on observations up to 1990 to avoid signals associated
        with the onset of major polar ice mass flux and the acceleration of
        mountain glacier melting beginning in the early 1990s and continuing
        to the present (7–10).

        They are making the necessary obeisances to the god of global warming.

        Probably had to do that to get the paper published.

      • No, they did not have to do that to get their paper published.

        This will be hard for you to accept, but they know more than you do. They learned, made more mistake, and learned more from their mistakes.

        The fatal flaw among skeptics is their astounding faith in their intelligence. You guys simply are not as good as you think you are, and your LoD argument is a perfect example of that.

      • “They learned, made more mistake, and learned more from their mistakes.”


        Perhaps after they make a few more mistakes they will get it right.

        The pole has only wandered 10 feet since we started keeping temperature records (it has moved close to 500 feet from an eyeball estimate). This century it has been wandering in ever decreasing concentric circles.

        The LOD is going in the wrong direction.

        It is odd that it is hard to find external confirmation of a rate increase in sea level rise in the 21st century. This creates problems for the “I’m Melting! Melting! Oh, What A World, What A World” crowd.

        That is why forcing the satellite sea risers to map their data to known tidal gauges is a good idea.

    • > If anyone has bought it…

      The Tweeter is usually good for this kind of thing:



      I try not to promote closed papers, however.

  11. From “…ignored realities in Midwest Flood Zone…”

    “More than a year ago, Criss spent some time in Franklin County, when it was high and dry, testifying against the idea of Ameren Missouri’s building yet another big levee along the Missouri River to protect its proposed new coal-ash landfill in Labadie. Criss and other experts testified that putting the landfill next to the river, and adding yet another massive levee to the mix, was horrendous public policy.

    The county commissioners, headed by Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer, didn’t listen.

    Now Griesheimer is waving his hands in the air in desperation, citing “unprecedented” flooding in his county.

    Some of the fancy new levees in our region will hold. But even so, they’ve changed how the rivers react forever. They’ve pushed the water downstream so that it’s somebody else’s problem.

    That’s the lesson of the Flood of 2015.

    The water has to go somewhere. And it will.”

    Urbanization, and the associated politics and greed-driven local land use decisions, has a big impact on weather and climate related damage. Too bad the focus is on renewables and “green” energy projects.

    • Are you suggesting that windmills on the levees won’t solve all of our problems? Horrors!

    • Here’s a thought. Build dams in the upper reaches to catch and hold the water, releasing it slowly or even using it for irrigation and water supply (and recreation). That water did not suddenly appear in the main rivers. It started in the small ones, where it is easily captured and held for beneficial uses. Too simple I guess. Or not green enough.

      • I am not a big fan of dams – they have eff’d up a lot of rivers and fisheries.

      • You prefer floods I guess.

      • >You prefer floods…

        Yes, where floods are supposed to occur. I suppose you can build in floodplain, but we don’t have to insure it nor do we have to build a dam to protect you. Same goes for building on seaside dunes or barrier islands. You pays your money and you takes your chances…

      • David Wojick wrote, “Build dams in the upper reaches to catch and hold the water, releasing it slowly or even using it for irrigation and water supply (and recreation).”

        I’m pretty sure these people have thought of doing that …

        Maybe not. Try sending them your idea along with some thoughts on cost and how to pay for it.

      • I am not a big fan of dams – they have eff’d up a lot of rivers and fisheries.

        Yes the 34lb brown trout in a nz hydro canal tells a story,

      • maksimovich1,

        I love the brown trout, I have caught a few small ones – appx. 16 inches – and they were great fun.

        Here in the western US the story is very different. All the major, and all of the minor, rivers in California have been dammed, destroying the native anadromous salmon and steelhead fisheries. A couple of coastal rivers, much smaller, have have dramatically ( unprecedented :) ) reduced fisheries. I think only the Smith river has escaped this fate. The Columbia River basin, encompassing almost the entire Pacific Northwest, fisheries have also been destroyed. Further east, the eastern drainage of the Rocky Mountains has been also destroyed by dams, extirpating the native cutthroat trout throughout most of it’s historic range.

        Dams have been vary bad for the fisheries of the American west.

      • Justin, you say “where floods are supposed to occur.” What a strange idea. You make it sound like they have a right to be there. Is this a divine right, or perhaps a natural right. So people are just supposed to get out of the way? Human intervention is not allowed? There are thousands of flood control dams already (but many more are needed) and tens of thousands of miles of levees. Should we decommission these, to release the floods to be where they are “supposed to be”.

      • Roving, yes they are well aware of it. I am merely describing the US Flood Control Program that the green’s terminated in 1968. Given that the greens are now predicting a great increase in floods, maybe it is time to restore the program.

      • Justin, you seem to prefer the well being of fish to that of people. No wonder there is so much damage to people. Dams are the only way to prevent flood damage. Apparently you do not care. Save the fish and damn the people, is that it?

      • David,

        I do sound like I don’t care, only because it is difficult to express all my thoughts on this issue via this dad-burned iPad!

        I’ll try harder.

        1. I don’t think we the people should subsidize other people’s risk. You can transfer risk via insurance, but that costs money should be an agreement between consenting parties.

        If we the people subsidize someone else’s risk, we are creating a financial incentive for people to take dangerous life-threatening risks at our expense.

        2. That the Mississippi River frequently floods, and even changes course, is not news. Personally, I would never live in the flood plain of one of the largest rivers on the earth.

        3. The floodplain of the Mississippi is ideally suited to agriculture and transportation, which can live peacefully with major floods.

        4. Dams are not just a choice between people and fish. That is a gross simplification. When a watershed is dammed some gain and some lose. Forests, streams, wild fisheries, some ocean fisheries ( many salmon fishermen lost everything), sometimes towns and even cities – Three Gorges in China – are lost. Cities, and some farmers, win. There is a lake recreation benefit. In California, the “other Yosemite”, was lost to provide water to the wealthy left-coast city of San Francisco, which is full of rich, Prius driving and Obama voting “environmentalists”. Talk of taking that dam down to retrieve a national treasure, potentially a national park like Yosemite, really sends them scurrying into therapy. The Klamath tribe lost their fishery, and part of their culture, to the Klamath dam. The city if Los Angeles stole the water from and destroyed the Owens Valley – see the movie “Chinatown”, one of the best movies ever made – and even killed many people with a dam failure (links later).

        Is it really ok to destroy the salmon fishing industry so we can susidize, at huge expense, corporate farmers to grow wet rice or pistachios in a desert? Is it ok to take away valuable timberland? Is it ok to take people’s property by emminent domain to build a dam? Is it ok to take mountain bike, horse, and hiking trails?

        5. There are other ways to get water, power, and flood control.

        6. We don’t build more dams because people don’t want them.

        7. We have almost run out of rivers to dam.

        8. Dams are very expensive.

        So, it is not so simple.

        Finally, I sympathize with people living in a potentially disastrous flood zone. I live on a steep slope in a dangerous landslide zone prone to earthquakes and catastrophic wildfires. Many people were killed in a catastrophic landslade < 1000 m from my home. Insurance here is outrageously expensive and many (most) insurers won't sell policies here. I assume the risk. I keep the native vegetation intact. I limit non-permeable surfaces. I assume the risk of very very very large tree falls. I manage my property as best I can for fire. If it's destroyed I walk away financially damaged. Nobody pays but me.

        And that makes all the difference….

      • Here’s the “other Yosemite”, Hetch Hetchy”, dammed and destroyed to send water 127 miles west to the lefty environmentalist city of San Francisco.


      • David Springer

        Brook trout rule for culinary pleasure. Not actually trout family but char. They are the state fish in New York where I grew up. They can only survive in cold, clear, well-oxygenated water of high purity which I’m quite sure is why they taste so good. We’d hook a brown in the Allegheny river once in a while which isn’t well suited for brookies. The best tasting IMO is the Walleyed Pike which I caught in large numbers out of that river. Their feeding habits make them perfect for fishing in the early evening after school or work. Fishing them with live minnows and a tiny buckshot sinker or small bobber in the right place got a hit on almost every cast. The right place is right at the end of some rapids. Cast into the rapids and right about at the drop off is where they hit. If using buckshot it has to be small enough so the rapids can roll it along the bottom. If no live minnows then a buck tail jig will usually do the job but is more work if you don’t count netting minnows and dragging a minnow bucket along with you. I kept a homemade stock tank of live minnows in the garage to lessen the burden.

      • Justin, dams are not expensive compared to the damages they prevent, in fact they are a great buy. The reason we no longer build flood control dams is because of the National Environmental Policy Act. NEPA makes it almost impossible to build a system of flood control dams because each one requires getting through decades of litigation. It has nothing to do with what people want. Do you think people want to be flooded?

      • David Springer,

        I love your post about fishing. I grew up fishing for brook trout in tiny streams in New England. Those were wonderful eeriences, though I was skunked most of the time. Many of those fisheries had been destroyed by dams and organic and industrial pollution. In some cases, brown trout were stocked to replace the brook trout. In other cases the rivers were so polluted we had only carp, suckers, eels, and hornpout ( a little catfish). I hear it is getting better with new regulations passed over the last four decades. I don’t know. When I go back I see nothing but urban and suburban buildout.

        I have never fished for pike or walleye – it’s on my bucket list.

        Keep those posts coming!!!! :)

      • Justin: By not building Zayante dam, the San Lorenzo is now over taxed by the Scotts Valley dewatering of the Santa Margarita and the Santa Cruz withdrawls at Tait Street. We can engineer better dams to accommodate fish. By storing a fraction of the water currently blasting out at the rivermouth next to the Boardwalk we would be able to stop pumping north county groundwater, which causes the dry season stream flows (baseflow) to decline In the Central Valley, we have destroyed baseflows in rivers and streams by over pumping groundwater. In California, we need to double our storage just to sustainably meet current demand. A large fraction of that can be stored in the ground. Unfortunately, some of the aquifer storage has been permanently destroyed by land subsidence compaction.

        We live in a world that requires retrofitting, not making over.

      • Horst,

        “Justin: By not building Zayante dam, the San Lorenzo is now over taxed by the Scotts Valley dewatering of the Santa Margarita and the Santa Cruz withdrawls at Tait Street.”

        True. The SM is a sole-source aquifer for SV, and yet their water director stated that there was no need to further use reductions since they had plenty of water. I’m not aware of Tait St, but the best way to reduce water use is to charge more money for it and fine people that exceed certain levels. If anyone in SC thinks their water bill is high they should see mine. We have a $200 ready-to-serve charge if you use no water at all. If you exceed 45 units/connection for a 2 month billing cycle you pay a $250 fine.

        “We can engineer better dams to accommodate fish.”

        Is that true? Do you have an example? I’d like to know.

        “By storing a fraction of the water currently blasting out at the rivermouth next to the Boardwalk we would be able to stop pumping north county groundwater, which causes the dry season stream flows (baseflow) to decline.”

        True. What do you think of the loquifer idea?

        “In the Central Valley, we have destroyed baseflows in rivers and streams by over pumping groundwater. ”

        True. I think the valley is actually sinking, isn’t it? Anyway, water is too cheap for farmers and they know it – I read it in an ag industry rag, so they are talking about it. I’ve seen the vampire ditch next to the pistachio orchards near Bakersfield. It seems dumb to me. Let farmers pay for the water and let them make better decisions on crops – prickly pears and olives (?) – and irrigation methods – like drip – based on the true cost of water. I’ve seen a lot of irrigation water blowing in the wind.

        Furthermore, we should take another look at Ca water rights law, It’s afu. I think it was the Harvard (?) endowment institution that bought some land down by Cal Poly SLO with rights to drill as deep as they want just before the law changed – a true race to the bottom! Water shouldn’t go to the team with the deepest straw.

        “In California, we need to double our storage just to sustainably meet current demand.”

        Maybe, I don’t know. Is it storage or supply we need? Or do we need other ideas? For starters, it seems stew-pit to use clean, processed water to flush toilets, wash cars, clean driveways, or irrigate exotic landscaping. I flush with a 5-gallon bucket of dishwater. My neighbor pumps greywater into storage for flushing.

        “A large fraction of that can be stored in the ground.”

        True. I’ve done a little research about that and would like to know more about it.

        “Unfortunately, some of the aquifer storage has been permanently destroyed by land subsidence compaction.”


        “We live in a world that requires retrofitting, not making over.”

        We should solve the world’s problems over lunch. I sent you my number! :)

        Nice salmon, btw!

      • A little water music, ‘The Trout.’

  12. http://www.cato.org/blog/bright-side-deceleration-sea-level-rise-along-indian-coastline


    1. rates of sea level rise along the Indian coastline have been “decreasing since 1955,” which observation of deceleration stands in direct opposition to model-based claims that sea level rise should be accelerating in recent decades in response to CO2-induced global warming.

    2. rates of sea level rise along the Indian coastline have been “decreasing since 1955,” which observation of deceleration stands in direct opposition to model-based claims that sea level rise should be accelerating in recent decades in response to CO2-induced global warming.

    3. the “sharp contrast” they provide when comparing the rates of sea level rise computed from tide gauge data with model-based sea level reconstructions produced from satellites, such as the 3.2 mm/year value observed by the CU Sea Level Research Group (2014), which Parker and Ollier emphatically claim “cannot be trusted because it is so far from observed data.”

    Doesn’t get any worse than this for Hansen, Gore and Schmidt.

    Trenberth and Mann – comments?

  13. Looks like the government there has really screwed the Brits. What a crock. I’m sure it won’t be long until the idiots in the government here in the US do the same to us.

  14. I have a comment stuck u know where.

  15. No long term issue with water
    My first and most important point about water is that there is no long term problem. The planet has effectively unlimited water and unlimited energy supply (nuclear of course). Therefore we can desalinate and pump as much water as we want anywhere we want (eventually).

  16. Floods around Oxford, UK are hardly new either.


  17. “In 1576 the roads and bridges around Oxford were said to be so decayed from frequent flooding that travel from neighbouring villages was hazardous.”

  18. Regarding “#Hydropower’s Future Looks Dim as Heat & #Drought Intensify [link]”
    The link has this photo:
    “The powerful flow of rivers such as the Columbia in Oregon, could be greatly reduced. Photo credit: National Weather Service Forecast Office via Wikimedia Commons”

    I worked on the Revelstoke Hydro Project during site investigations and construction in the 1970s. The Revelstoke dam is second from the top of the Columbia River. The first is Mica Sam which at the time was the highest dam in the world. it is Earth and Rock Fill. Here is a short video of Revelstoke Dam overflowing. It gives some insight into the power of water. Revelstoke Project is 2600 MW.

    Unfortunately, there is very limited viable hydro capacity left to be developed in the world. What is viable and left to be developed is insufficient to maintain hydro’s share of global electricity generation as global electricity demand increases in future.

    • others and some explanatory text here:

      • Sorry, that last one’s a repeat. I don’t know how to show the link to the text and other videos. Perhaps they’ll appear after you watch the videos. The videos are about 2 minutes

    • The real question/answer is more likely to be low head hydro. Less environmental impact, more availability, etc.

      At one time our whole economy (UK) ran on low head hydro! We just went after the easy high head/energy stuff instead afterwards.

      • Low head hydro means low power hydro – i.e. next to useless!

        Power is proportional to head and flow rate (m3/s). if you want power you need high head and enormous flow. if you want to have reliable power through long droughts you need enormous storage capacity.

      • 30,000kWh and counting

         News –  December 16, 2015

        We are delighted to report that generation continues to be going on apace with power production reaching 30,000kWh at the weekend.

        Daily generation fluctuates as river flows vary. We have also experienced that the build up of debris on the trash screen can reduce flow and therefore power output. Many thanks to our team of volunteers who are making daily trips to the site to keep the trash screen clear. As well as leaves and twigs, their haul has also included a bucket and several plastic bags.

        When we are operating at full throttle, we are topping 1000 kWh in a day – enough to make 50,000 cups of tea.

      • New Year update from the river bank

         News –  January 4, 2016

        After a long dry summer, with rain fall well below average, we started the New Year with Osney on flood alert. Although we have been spared the record breaking rainfall experienced by Scotland, Wales and North West England this December, the Environment Agency monitors reflect the recent rains with increased flow and river levels.

        You can keep an eye on the river levels and flow at our nearby gauging station online. Follow this link for Farmoor flow levels or see below for river levels at Farmoor and Osney Lock.

        You can also check for flood warnings on the Environment Agency website, which also gives you the option to register to receive free flood alerts.

        In terms of the hydro, we continue to be able to abstract water for generation, whenever it is available and Environment Agency is happy for us to do so. As ever, their priority is to manage river flows to enable river navigation and prevent flooding and thanks go to the local Environment Agency team who are working so hard to manage the local waterways.

        We are currently shut down awaiting a technical inspection, however this is unrelated to the recent flood alert and our team of volunteers remain busy, keeping the trash screen at the front of the hydro channel free of debris.

      • “Under the condition of our abstraction licence we are able to divert up to 4 cubic meters per second of flow through the hydro. This represents around 10% of the flow through the adjacent weir. When we don’t operate this water continues to flow through the main channel, and over weirs A, B and C depending on the total flow being passed down the river system.”

      • RichardLH,

        What point are you trying to make with all these quotes? Are you supporting my point that low head hydro is next to useless unless you have enormous flow? The fact is that UK has negligible viable, additional hydro capacity that could be developed. If you are arguing that there is potential to provide a large amount of extra hydro generation in UK, please link to the authoritative reports that say that.

  19. Some interesting history of the Ohio River flood of 1937 …

    Six to 12 inches (300 mm) of rain fell in Ohio during January 13–25, 1937, totals never before or since equaled over such a large area of Ohio. January 1937 remains as the wettest month ever recorded in Cincinnati.

    One hundred thousand people in Cincinnati were left homeless, as the flood affected the city from January 18 to February 5. The river reached its peak on January 26, at 79.9 feet (24.4 m), more than 25 feet (7.6 m) higher than flood stage. Ohio River levels on January 26–27 were the highest known from Gallipolis downstream past Cincinnati. Crests were 20 to 28 feet (8.5 m) above flood stage and 4 to 9 feet (2.7 m) above the previous record of 1884. 12 square miles (31 km2) of the city’s area was flooded, the water supply was cut, and streetcar service was curtailed.

    At Portsmouth, the rising river threatened to top the flood wall, erected 10 feet (3.0 m) above flood stage. City officials deliberately opened the flood gates and allowed river water to flood the business district 8 to 10 feet (3.0 m) deep, thus preventing a catastrophic breaching of the flood wall. The Ohio River eventually crested 14 feet (4.3 m) over the top of the flood wall. Among the flooded structures was Crosley Field, home field of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. Additionally, the amusement park Coney Island was submerged, causing pieces of carousel horses to float away, which were recovered as far downriver as Paducah. Ten people died, many fewer than the 467 killed in the floods of March 1913.


    Here’s a picture of Cincinnati’s waterfront in 1907. Note the floating dock/warehouse and the distance from the water line to the buildings. Not far enough as it turned out.

    • Interesting pics of the 1913 floods, back in the days when Revkin’s pal thought the disasters were better behaved.
      Up to 11 inches falling on already soaked and frozen ground in three days across a huge area. 90% run-off. No mitigation can handle that.

      Now we cheat and use that climate change thingy…and we still can’t match 1913.

      People like Revkin, while appearing to comment or report impartially, will never stop building their case for modern climate exceptionalism, using factoids, verbal trickery and sly omissions. The little poisoned activist pill is always floating amid the mush.

  20. More on hydro. ScottishScientist has come up with an idea to build a 255 GW pumped hydro scheme in Scotland to take solar and wind energy from Europe and Northern Africa, store it in Scotland and return it to Europe. I posted two comments. ScottishScientist wrote dismissive, derisive comments about my first comment, so I posted a second, a slightly revised version of which follows:

    New pumped hydro schemes are rarely viable if the intention is to power the pumps with weather-dependent renewable energy. Here is a recent proposal for ‘World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?https://scottishscientist.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/worlds-biggest-ever-pumped-storage-hydro-scheme-for-scotland/


    • Generating capacity: 255 GW
    • Energy storage capacity: 6,800 GWh
    • Flow rate: 51,000 m3/s [the equivalent of the discharge flow from the Congo River, only surpassed by the Amazon!]
    • 300 m high dam with crest at 650 m elevation
    • Bottom reservoir is the sea
    • 30 km canal, 51,000 m3/s, triangular cross section with 1:1 side slopes, 170 m wide, 85 m deep, velocity 9.8 m/s, head loss 11.1 m (each direction).
    • HVDC transmission lines to Europe and Northern Africa – up to 3000 km.

    The Preface in David MacKay’s Book “Sustainable Energy – without the hot airhttp://www.withouthotair.com/ , p viii, begins:

    I’m concerned about cutting UK emissions of twaddle – twaddle about sustainable energy. Everyone says getting off fossil fuels is important, and we’re all encouraged to “make a difference,” but many of the things that allegedly make a difference don’t add up.

    Twaddle emissions are high at the moment because people get emotional (for example about wind farms or nuclear power) and no-one talks about numbers. Or if they do mention numbers, they select them to sound big, to make an impression, and to score points in arguments, rather than to aid thoughtful discussion.

    The purpose of this comment is to help to “reduce the emissions of twaddle – twaddle about sustainable energy”.

    Comments, Issues, Criticisms:

    The “World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?” is not viable. Even if we assume a highly optimistic 15% average capacity factor the LCOE would be >10 times higher than LCOE of nuclear power. However, 15% capacity factor is virtually impossible if using power for pumping from weather dependent renewables. In fact, even if it could buy electricity for free, it would still need to sell it at around 10 times the cost of nuclear to be viable.

    Reasons why the 255 GW Inverness seawater pumped hydro proposal is impractical and not financially viable:

    1. Could never be financially viable – LCOE is ~10x the LCOE of nuclear.

    2. Therefore, it would never get funded.

    3. If built, it couldn’t buy renewable energy cheaply enough and sell at high enough price to pay for the scheme.

    4. Ignoring costs, the capacity factor, if powered by weather-dependent renewables, may be 1% to 15% at best.

    5. Capital cost of a hydro plant (not pumped hydro) 255 GW @ £10/W = £2,550 billion (say £3 trillion for your seawater pumped hydro project) (DECC, ‘Electricity Generation Costs 2013’, p67 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/223940/DECC_Electricity_Generation_Costs_for_publication_-_24_07_13.pdf ).

    6. Add capital cost of transmission (255 GW x 2000 km x £500/MW.km) = £255 billion.

    7. Total overnight capital cost = ~ £3.255 trillion (i.e. ~ £12.5/W).

    8. LCOE = £1,050/MWh (NREL ‘Simple LCOE Calculator’ http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html , inputs: £12.5/W, 40 year life, 10% discount rate, 15% capacity factor, £104/kW/yr FOM, DECC, ‘Electricity Generation Costs 2013’, p67).

    9. Add: buy excess wind and solar power at say £100/MWh (DECC, ‘Electricity Generation Costs 2013’, p34) when available (= £133/MWh after pumping efficiency losses @ 75%); total LCOE = £1,183/MWh.

    10. Why would any rational buyer buy electricity from the scheme at £1,183/MWh instead of from nuclear power at around £93/MWh? (DECC, ‘Electricity Generation Costs 2013’, p33)?

    11. Even if an investor could be persuaded to invest over $3 trillion in your concept, how long would it take to build? 20 years, 30 years? Adding interest during construction would probably double the total capital cost that has to be recovered over the life of the plant.

    12. Environmental issues with pumping sea water into a reservoir at 630 m elevation that then infiltrates into the ground water and pollutes it with salt water (and some sea life that survives) would almost certainly preclude environmental approval.

    13. The purpose of the well is not explained? What is its volume? How many hours of water can it hold at 51,000 m3/s?

    14. The canal would be hugely expensive, prone to disruptions and impractical for many reasons.

    15. What is the land elevation profile along the centre line of the canal? How long would the canal be if it followed the contours? How much cut and fill would be required? Bridges across valleys?

    16. The land surface along the canal route seems to start at 300 m elevation at the well, fall to 267 m at Moy and rise to 350 m at the base of the dam. So the ground surface falls 33m and rises 87 m to the base of the dam http://en-gb.topographic-map.com/places/Inverness-928291/ . How is this going to be levelled? The cost will be enormous.

    17. How deep does the canal have to be to get the required flow rate in both directions? (e.g. 85 m + 11 m = 96 m deep at each end and 91m in the middle?)

    18. What is the cross section topographic profile at say 100 m intervals along the line of the canal? How much excavation is required for a 91-96 m deep by 170 m wide canal on the side of steep sided valleys?

    19. How will landslides, debris slides and erosion by freak floods be prevented for the life of the project?

    20. What will be the diameter of the pipes, and the steel thickness needed to hold the internal pressure at 300 m static head plus dynamic head? What is the estimated cost of the steel pipes?

    21. How many turbines and penstocks will you need for 255 GW generating capacity? – e.g. 500 turbines at 500 MW each (250 at sea level and 250 at base of dam)? Where would you fit them at the base of the dam? Underground? Cost?.

    22. How large would the two power station be with 250 x 500 MW turbines in each – e.g. 80 times ‘Tumut 3’ (6 x 250 MW turbines) – see photos:

    23. Cost of dam, canal, penstocks, pump-generating station?

    24. How long does it take to change from pumping to generating?

    25. Why would any rational utility buy electricity from the scheme at £1,200/MWh instead of from nuclear at around £93/MWh? (DECC, ‘Electricity Generation Costs 2013’, p33).

    26. Rough guestimate of uncertainty in cost estimate: -50% to +200%

    27. The generating capacity and/or storage capacity is overstated. Either the system is operated with the dam kept near full for maximum head, in which case the generating capacity is ~255 GW but the storage capacity is ~550 GWh, not 6,800 GWh. Or the system is operated to use all the storage in which case one would have to assume that the available head is with reservoir near empty because an operator would have to guarantee 95% reliability for his peaking power. Thus, the gross head for power generation is 300 m, so the generating capacity is ~132 GW and the storage capacity ~5,500 GWh. You should not claim 255 GW generating capacity AND 6,800 GWh energy storage capacity.

    Main Point

    There will probably be errors in my numbers and valid criticism about some details I’ve stated, but the main point is that the scheme is likely to be some 10 times too expensive compared with simply buying reliable nuclear power.

    The excellent 2015 ERP report ‘Managing Flexibility Whilst Decarbonising the GB Electricity Systemhttp://erpuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ERP-Flex-Man-Full-Report.pdf , also shows that energy storage is hugely expensive and ineffective. The ERP analysis shows that nuclear power is the cheapest way for GB to meet its 2030 CO2 emissions targets (e.g. Figure 14).

    The ERP analysed the cost to largely decarbonise the GB electricity system by 2030 with a wide variety of technology mixes. The ERP report is co-chaired by Prof John Loughhead FREng, Chief Scientific Advisor to DCEE. ERP members include a broad spectrum of stake holders from electricity industry, academics, government agencies and environmental NGOs. The ERP analysis considers and does sensitivity analyses on important inputs and constraints that are rarely included in analyses intended for informing policy analysts regarding policy for a whole electricity system.

    • David Springer

      That was obnoxiously long for a comment, Lang.



      Comments are just that, comments. When you get into the 500 to 1000 word category, we’re talking blog posts. Do that on your own blogs.


      • David Springer your comments are obnoxious whether they are short or long. Take your own advice.

    • Ludington Pumped Storage …

      This process was designed to level the load of nearby nuclear power plants on the grid. It also replaces the need to build natural gas peak power plants used only during high demand.
      [ … ]
      Consumers Energy discussed plans in 2008 to extend the life of the facility and upgrade the pumps to increase efficiency by up to 9%. Consumers Energy also planned to tap the wind power resources along the eastern Lake Michigan shore with wind farms. Because wind is an intermittent power source and may inconveniently deliver large amounts of power during periods of low electric demand, pumped storage facilities are desirable to have on the same grid with large-scale wind farms. The available pumped storage capacity, along with the wind characteristics, partly determine the maximum contribution wind power can make to the overall electricity use in a region.


      Pumped storage and nuclear as well as intermittent “renewables” and carbon are all important pieces of a reliable and economical power supply.

      • rovingbroker,

        You didn’t mention costs.
        Pumped hydro is seldom cost effective nowdays. It was in the 1970-80’s but not any more. El Hierro Island is an almost ideal site for renewables and pumped hydro. It’s a complete fiasco, a failure in everything except as an example of bad policy and good advocacy.

        Since full operations began the 11.5MW wind farm has run at an average capacity factor of 13.2% and the hydro plant at an average capacity factor of 1.5% (calculated relative to the 9.2MW net capacity of the hydro turbines).


  21. The Madden-Julian Oscillation is associated with variations in tropical thunderstorm activity (convection) and is characterized by an eastward-moving pulse of atmospheric features affecting cloud formation, precipitation and pressure patterns. This pulse circles the globe roughly once every one to two months. In turn, the jet streams over the North Pacific and South Pacific can be impacted during the winter due to large-scale changes in tropical convection. This can contribute to blocking activity which impacts the amount of precipitation across the Pacific Northwest.

  22. That was variable 3 and variable 2 is:

    The Arctic Oscillation is a climate pattern characterized by the strength of counterclockwise winds around the Arctic. Its positive phase confines cold air to the polar regions, while its negative phase is associated with cold air penetrating farther south, as well as an increased chance of nor’easters.

  23. The 1st variable:

    The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) basically describes the degree of blocking of the jet stream over the North Atlantic Ocean, frequently in the vicinity of Greenland. The NAO’s negative phase features high pressure aloft blocking the west-to-east flow of the jet stream, forcing it to buckle south over the eastern U.S., ushering in prolonged cold air. The positive phase is just the opposite; no blocking means Canadian cold air mainly drains west-to-east across the content, not plunging deep into the U.S.

  24. …and, the playing field:

    a peaking El Niño!

  25. … one possible outcome of the above: Florida may be washed out to sea sometime before the end of March

  26. No discussion of regional freshwater, (flood, drought) should ignore two facts. 1. Climate models do not downscale to regions. Essay Last Cup of Coffee. 2. There will never be an uneconomic water shortage on this planet. Only regionally, where population exceeds local available water. The difference is ‘virtual water’. Explained in ebook Gaias Limits published early 2012,

  27. Recommended reading:

    Encounters with the Archdruid
    The Control of Nature

    Both by John McPhee

    • John McPhee is awesome! His “Annals of the Former World” is a classic! I haven’t read those two yet, but it ain’t over ’till it’s over.

  28. Uncertainty in climate projections: Gavin Schmidt’s essay is quote good:


    Does such agreement “prove” that a given projection will indeed come to pass? No.

    So how should one interpret future projections from climate models? I suggest a more heuristic approach. If models agree that something (global warming and subtropical drying for instance) is relatively robust, then it is a reasonable working hypothesis that this is a true consequence of our current understanding. If the models fail to agree (as they do in projecting the frequency of El Niño) then little confidence can be placed in their projections. Additionally, if there is good theoretical and observational backup for the robust projections, then I think it is worth acting under the assumption that they are likely to occur.

    Yet demands from policy makers for scientific-looking probability distributions for regional climate changes are mounting, and while there are a number of ways to provide them, all, in my opinion, are equally unverifiable. Therefore, while it is seductive to attempt to corner our ignorance with the seeming certainty of 95-percent confidence intervals, the comfort it gives is likely to be an illusion. Climate modeling might be better seen as a Baedeker for the future, giving some insight into what might be found, rather than a precise itinerary.

    • That the models agree on something is not a good reason to believe them, because they all incorporate the assumption of AGW. We also understand that there are major natural climate processes that they do not include, because these processes are poorly understood. So there is nothing “relatively robust” about them.

      But then too it is not clear that they agree on anything, except the prospect of some warming, which at the low end should be beneficial. Thus there is no basis for serious policy action.

      • Well, the case for policy action is based not only on hypothesized temperature excursion (however uncertain) but also on ocean acidification


        Some policy actions are beneficial whether or not there is temp excursion: energy efficiency, and solar & wind are cheaper than the Price-Anderson subsidized old-nuclear tech.

        Abolish Price-Anderson favoritism and let the markets really be free and see gas, solar and wind win — also then there will be a chance for investment in new-nuclear.

    • Even seemingly simple things, when in the real world and its complexities, are not.

    • Because I worked at DEQ/DNR until 20 years ago, I have been trying to find out what happened. The article makes some assertions that don’t appear justified based on known facts. The culture in DEQ for the last 50 years nearly always sided with the environment, to the extreme at times. Based on reconstruction of timeliness and looking at the decisions by Federal, State and local officials, it appears to be a series of poor judgments, bureaucratic bungling and not anticipating what the worst case scenario could be. As late as last summer, the State received test results showing no elevated lead levels. At the same time EPA was glacially working out some bureacratic self imposed barriers. No one distinguished themselves.
      It is idiotic to blame the Emergency Manager decisions. Democrats held power for decades and put the city into its financial mess.
      Just another disaster that gets analyzed with over simplfied causes.

      • It would be interesting to hear what you discover. I read that article also – it seem’s like that area is really augering in.

      • Almost everyone I worked with has long retired. But occasionally I do see some of those former engineers from the Water Quality program and they keep in contact with current employees. The problem in sorting out what really happened is figuring out who has first hand accounts versus 2nd or 3rd or 4th hand accounts. Even the principles may have different memories of what happened and the finger pointing dominates the reconstruction. It has already started with EPA trying to justify their actions. I’m glad I’m not there.

      • kid, ” Even the principles may have different memories of what happened and the finger pointing dominates the reconstruction. It has already started with EPA trying to justify their actions. I’m glad I’m not there.”

        Another reason I fish. Before it was upgraded, the Flint river was used for backup supposedly four times a year to keep the system operational. After the switch, a few major main breaks lead to over chlorination thanks to Legionella, E, Coli and a few other scares. From the looks of it, the oldest parts of the system which would be in the most impoverished parts of the city, gradually degraded enough to break the 90th percentile.

        On the bright side, Flint will be in the history books, PVC sales should boom and Flint will have some construction related stimulus that should have started in circa 1989 with the Surface Water Treatment Rules.

  29. Good post on the flint water situation: http://gregbranchwords.com/2016/01/17/the-real-tragedy-in-flint/

  30. Western academia’s climate models produce prognostications not predictions.

  31. “… The attempt to attribute these floods to global warming is only a rerun of a similar attempt with tropical cyclones after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Since then several years of below average storm activity plus statistical studies showing no recent trend of increase have left the warmists looking for a new alarm. The floods have provided it, if they can just insert GW as the suggested cause and keep ENSO/IPO unmentioned.” ~Walter Starck

  32. “UK Met Office: What’s been happening with our weather”

    A very strongly positive NAO through December. The only regular correlation to monthly teleconnection anomalies like that is short term solar variability. Solar wind effects on polar air pressure, known effects like nitric oxide destruction of polar ozone, and not well understood thermal-circulation effects from Joule heating.

  33. Off topic but very relevant to water and climate science:

    Off Topic:

    On the sad passing of Dr Bob Carter, a great scientist and friendhttp://catallaxyfiles.com/2016/01/20/on-the-sad-passing-of-bob-carter-a-great-scientist-and-friend/

    My comment:

    Bob Carter did an enormous amount to help save us all from stupidity. He was one of four non-climate scientists who convinced Senator Steve Fielding (the only engineer in Australia’s Parliament at the time) that the climate scientists’ projections of catastrophic human caused global warming were not based on sound objective, analysis of the relevant evidence and were highly suspect. This was the beginnings of the undoing of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Environment Minister Penny Wong and the advocates for the ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ and later Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Carbon Tax.

    Thank you Bob Carter for helping to bring some rational, objective analysis to the debate. Thank you for the long view you brought to the debate that only geologists can bring. Thank you for so much!

  34. From the article:

    Overall electricity generation in Scotland increased by 2,635 GWh in 2012 to 53,071 GWh in 2013,where renewables and nuclear generated just over two thirds (66.9%) of Scotland’s electricity output. Scotland continued to be a net exporter of electricity, exporting 27.9% of total generation in 2013, up from 25.6% in 2012. Generation from low carbon sources accounted for two thirds of Scotland’s electricity output. In 2013, nuclear output increased from 33.8% in 2012 to 34.9% of overall electricity generation.


  35. No “pause” here either.

    Hmmm. Big hmmm.