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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Serial disinformer Vincent Gray flounders in rising seas at WUWT

Sou | 6:28 PM Go to the first of 9 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts, denialist blogger at has copied and pasted another disinformation article, this time by Vincent Gray from New Zealand (archived here).  Vincent Gray is writing at WUWT about sea level and gets lots and lots wrong.  Which is to be expected.  Vincent Gray has devoted the past few years to his new career of climate science disinformer.

Anthony Watts seems to think he should be shown respect because he's getting very old.  Vincent Gray is a climate science denier going back a few years now.  He founded the science-disinformation organisation "New Zealand Climate Science Coalition" back in April 2006 back when he was a sprightly 84 year old. Here is a bit of background on him from Wikipedia:

Credit: Vincent Gray
Vincent R. Gray (born 1922, London) is a New Zealand-based chemist, and a founder of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.
Gray has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Cambridge University after studies on incendiary bomb fluids made from aluminium soaps. He has had a long scientific career in the UK, France, Canada and China working on petroleum, plastics, gelatin, timber, paint, adhesives and adhesion, coal, and building materials with well over 100 scientific and technical articles, patents and chapters in books. In New Zealand, he was the first Director of Building Research and later, Chief Chemist of the Coal Research Association.[1][2] He has also published many articles and reports, seven in peer-reviewed journals. 

Some bits Vincent Gray got right...

What does Vincent say that's wrong?  It would take a lot less space to write about what he said that was right.  Here's an example of what he got right:
Chapter 13 of the IPCC 5th WGI Report claims that sea level will rise by an amount between 0.26 to 0.97 metres by 2100 according to which of their new scenarios actually happens
Vincent has given numbers from bottom of the "likely" range of the highest mitigation scenario, RCP2.6, to the top of the "likely" range of the no mitigation scenario, RCP8.5.  This is discussed on page 13-47 of the AR5 WG1 report.  The "likely" ranges are given as 0.4 metres for RCP2.6 and 0.73m for RCP8.5.  So even if we manage to reverse global warming this century (RCP2.6), seas will continue to rise as the earth system moves towards a new equilibrium.

Vincent goes through a few basics by way of introduction.  He is correct that for most of us land-dwelling organisms, it's the height of the sea relative to the land that's of most interest.  But that's about as far as "correct" goes in Vincent's article.

Vincent refers to the rather nice map from the UK's Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL).  You can click on the map to see the local sea level changes for different coastal locations as measured by tide gauges.  PSMSL recommends only using RLR (Revised Local Reference) data for time series.

So Vincent Gray got a couple of things right...but it's not long before he gets it horribly wrong.

Sea level is rising around the world

I won't go through everything that Vincent Gray wrote.  I'll just select a few of his "wrongs".  Vincent put up Figure 13.23 from page 13-117 of the IPCC report.  I took my own snapshot as below.  Click to see the larger version:

Source: IPCC AR5 WG1 page 13-117
Figure 13.23: Observed and projected relative net sea level change (compare Figure 13.20) near nine representative coastal locations for which long tide-gauge measurements are available. The observed in situ relative sea level records from tide gauges (since 1970) are plotted in yellow, and the satellite record (since 1993) is provided as purple lines. The projected range from 21 CMIP5 RCP4.5 scenario runs (90% uncertainty) is shown by the shaded region for the period 2006–2100, with the bold line showing the ensemble mean. Colored lines represent three individual climate model realizations drawn randomly from three different climate models used in the ensemble. Station locations of tide gauges are: (a) San Francisco: 37.8°N, 122.5°W; (b) New York: 40.7°N, 74.0°W; (c) Ijmuiden: 52.5°N, 4.6°E; (d) Haldia: 22.0°N, 88.1°E; (e) Kanmen, China: 28.1°N, 121.3°E; (f) Brest: 48.4°N, 4.5°W; (g) Mar del Plata, Argentina: 38.0°S, 57.5°W; (h) Fremantle: 32.1°S, 115.7°E; (i) Pago Pago: 14.3°S, 170.7°W. Vertical bars at the right sides of each panel represent the ensemble mean and ensemble spread (5–95%) of the likely (medium confidence) sea level change at each respective location at the year 2100 inferred from the four RCPs 2.6 (dark blue), 4.5 (light blue), 6.0 (yellow), and 8.5 (red).

Vincent makes the claim in relation to the above that:
Every one of these actual measured sea levels have shown no sign of change for at least ten years, yet all the projections claim that this settled behaviour will suddenly change to an upwards level of around half a metre by the end of the century.
No sign of change for at least ten years, he claims.  He's wrong!

Being naturally skeptical of people who have a history of lying, I checked.

Here are charts from the source that Vincent seems to have recommended, PSMSL.  I've managed to plot all but one of the locations he referred to when he said that seas weren't rising.  I couldn't find a recent series for "Bay of Bengal".  I'll leave it to you to decide just how many of the "every one" Vincent got woefully wrong.  As always, you can click the animated image for a larger view.

Data Source: PSMSL

Why Vincent decides on ten years to make a judgement is anyone's guess.  But even looking at a mere ten years of data there are only three of the above charts that Vincent chose for which it could be argued there is no perceptible rise since 2002.  For some of them the recent rise is very large.  And in all of them the seas are rising inexorably over time.

The temperature rise will be greatest in the Arctic

Vincent writes the contrary:
All the models assume that any temperature rise will be least at the poles and greatest at the tropics because the water vapour feedback is lower at the poles..They do not mention Antarctica where the ice is currently increasing
He's got this one back to front.  Models don't "assume", they project.  Models don't indicate that the temperature rise will be greatest at the tropics, they indicate that the temperature will rise most in the Arctic, which is what has been happening.  Here is how the IPCC projects temperature to change in different parts of the world as the world heats up.

Source: IPCC AR5 WG1 Chapter 14 page 14-144
FAQ 14.1, Figure 1: Projected 21st century changes in annual mean and annual extremes (over land) of surface air temperature and precipitation: a) mean surface temperature per °C of global mean change

The chart above indicates that most of the Arctic region will heat up by two degrees or more for every one degree increase in global average surface temperature - except for an area just south of Greenland. The land will heat up more quickly than the oceans.  The Antarctic will rise just a tad more quickly than the average surface temperature - and land areas in the tropics will heat up more than average, but not as much as the Arctic.

You'll have noticed that he got it wrong  about the Antarctic, too.  Sea ice in the Antarctic hit a record high this winter but sea ice doesn't affect sea level.  And on the continent ice is melting.  There is a net loss. Melting ice in Antarctica is estimated to be adding 0.59 ± 0.20 millimeter a year to global sea level. Any accumulation in the east is more than offset by the melting in the west and on the peninsula.

No measurements?

Vincent writes:
There are no measurements of temperatures on ice anywhere, on ice caps, oceans or glaciers. In all cases there are other influences.on their behaviour. In the Arctic it is the temperature of the ocean and the behaviour of the ocean oscillations.
I don't know what he's going on about here.  What does he mean by saying there are no temperature readings or records on ice or in the oceans.  Of course there are.  Denier Don Easterbrook will be very upset with him for telling that lie!

The temperature of the ocean influences temperatures on land in lots of places.  Extra hot oceans are being blamed for Australia's run of broken heat records over the past year.  Thing is, what's causing the oceans to get warmer?  It's all those extra greenhouse gases!

The ice in the Arctic is "growing" because it's winter, dummy!

Vincent writes:
The ice in the Arctic is beginning to grow now
Of course it is.  The Arctic is heading for winter.  But ice in the Arctic is on a death spiral.  Even science deniers should know that:

Getting back to sea level projections

Sea level projections rely on estimates of how quickly the ice sheets in Antarctica and the Arctic will melt.  And how quickly glaciers all around the world will melt.  But particularly the ice sheets on Greenland and in Western Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula.  If the ice sheets melt faster than expected then seas will rise more quickly, needless to say.  As it is, the ice will melt no matter what we do and the sea is going to rise a lot more than half a metre in the next few centuries.  What we can control is how much hotter the earth will get, which will determine to some extent how fast these ice sheets melt and probably how much of them melt.

The IPCC report states on page 13-108 that:
The total sea level commitment after 2000 years is quasi-linear with a slope of 2.3m °C–1.
So over millenia, seas are expected to rise more than ten metres if the global surface temperature rises by 4.5°C.  And that sort of temperature rise is definitely on the cards the way we're going.

If all the ice were to melt, seas would rise about 70 meters - but that's over thousands of years, not decades. However seas may well rise by more than a couple of meters sometime in the next couple of hundred years - if not sooner then later.  This will spell a lot of trouble.  Not just for people who live on the coast but for the world as a whole.

From the WUWT comments

The comments are archived here with the main article.

Go Home is a lateral thinker and says:
October 30, 2013 at 8:00 pm
Once the seas get too high, we just need to start sequestering water in the antarctic. Problem solved. Probably cheaper than trying to slow the oceans rise by cutting co2.

Mike Smith is not at all sceptical about what Vincent writes and says:
October 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm
The models say the sea levels are rising. So, where’s the missing water? Hiding in the deep ocean?
Lyle's comment could be a Poe:
October 30, 2013 at 6:31 pm
Seems to me that measuring sea level a lot like measuring your altitude while jumping on a trampoline. A host of factors come into play in addition to those mentioned such as volcanoes on land, volcanoes at sea, erosion and kids skipping rocks

Hockey Schtick is a conspiracy theorist (as if you couldn't tell from the cyber-name) and writes (excerpt):
October 30, 2013 at 6:14 pm
No problem, just “upjust” the data:
Satellite sea level data has been “adjusted” upward by 34% over past 9 years alone

Mike is battling to sublimate his scepticism, but merely "thinks" without checking so his scepticism loses.  He says he "agrees with the overall thrust":
October 30, 2013 at 9:29 pm
The author appears to be making the case that we should only look at recent tide data (the last ten years) as this is the most accurate and coincidentally agrees with his point that CAGW is overblown. Since global temperatures have been static for 17 years it would be expected that thermal expansion of the ocean would also tend to become static over the last 17 years (with some lag). This seems to be a somewhat circular argument not withstanding the overarching difficulties of obtaining accurate data in the first place. I agree with the overall thrust of the piece but the evidence as presented doesn’t really support it one way or the other.


  1. Go Home "Once the seas get too high, we just need to start sequestering water in the antarctic."

    That should be easy for all the people who want to bring water "down from the Ord to Perth." Water flows from the top of the map to the bottom, doesn't it? And Antarctica is at the very bottom.


  2. I must admit, Gray has made some startlingly original blunders: This has to be a "golden horseshoe" ( candidate.

    * "the models assume" - no, the models calculate or what you will; not assume
    * that any temperature rise will be least at the poles and greatest at the tropics" - no, remember "polar amplification"
    * "because the water vapour feedback is lower at the poles" - wrong too, given the window-type effects
    * "They do not mention Antarctica" - what, you want the model to produce a little pop-up saying "remember Antarctica!"?
    * "There are no measurements of temperatures on ice anywhere" - tell that to the people at Vostok. Or Amundsen-Scott. Or Halley. Or...

    1. Oh sorry you already picked up most of that. But still, I was dead impressed!

  3. Having inspected your PSMSL sea level graphs I've come to the conclusion that Brest is best.

  4. A reminder that the term "gone emeritus" didn't spring out of nowhere.

  5. A Watts, it is disgraceful you call Dr Gray a liar.
    There is no human induced global warming.
    CO2 is heavier than air and falls down to feed plant life.
    CO2 can't be up there and down here
    The hole in Antarctic sky was not caused by CFC's
    The hole is either natural or caused by a volcano
    The CFC's are largely generated in the northern hemisphere
    The winds of the north stay north and cannot carry CFC Sth
    If CFC's caused hole, hole would be over arctic

    Get real climate change is a scam

    1. Don't let any facts get in the way of a good rant.

    2. CO2 is heavier than air so it falls down. (How does ozone manage to stay up so high?) ...Volcanoes aren't natural. :)

      I call Poe.


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