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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

King tides, storm surges and rising seas are anathema to WUWT

Sou | 7:51 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

WUWT has an article about a paper in Geophysical Research Letters last month (archived here). The paper was called: "Sea level anomalies exacerbate beach erosion", which is self evident, given that in most places (but not everywhere) sea levels are rising relative to the coastline. (In some places the land is rising more quickly than the sea, so effectively sea level can fall in some places even while globally seas are rising.)

The lead author was a PhD candidate, Ethan Theuerkauf from the Institute of Marine Sciences at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He's had quite a few papers published on similar topics. I don't know if he's been awarded his PhD yet, but he's been publishing for several years now.

Lame dog-whistle

Anthony reverts to his normal "claim" headline, writing: "Claim: Sea-level spikes can harm beaches worse than hurricane". That's his way of telling his readers to reject the science. I haven't counted, but it's probably nine times out of ten that Anthony wants his readers to reject often fairly straightforward science. Science that is doing the hard work and putting measurements to what is expected and known about climate change.

Just in case WUWT readers don't hear the dog-whistle, Anthony adds at the bottom:
Basically this looks like a lame attempt to make king tides look like they are enhanced significantly by sea level, and make sea level an elevated issue so they can argue with North Carolina to re-enact the sea level laws they gutted this in 2012.

Is science lame? Is it lame to suggest that planners should take account of future expectations and not rely wholly and solely on what has happened in the past? Planning is about the future after all. Is it lame to go out and take measurements and report them?

Eroding beaches in North Carolina

As usual, Anthony didn't provide a link to the paper itself. This time he did manage to provide a link to the AGU blog article he copied. It's by Alexandra Branscombe. Here is an extract:
The new study found that unexpected increases in water level of a few centimeters (inches) to a half a meter (almost two feet) above the predicted high tide correlated with the loss of more than half a meter (almost two feet) of beach height on a North Carolina barrier island during 2009 and 2010. This was similar to the amount of erosion in 2010 to 2011 when Hurricane Irene – a category one hurricane with a storm surge of two meters (almost seven feet) high – swept away about a third of a meter (just over a foot) of sediment from the same beaches, according to a new study published last week in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
The new findings suggest that short-term increases in sea level that can last for weeks or months are a more significant factor in beach erosion than previously thought. Scientists call these upward or downward spikes of water level, which occur globally and can stretch along an entire coastline, sea-level anomalies.
There's a photo in the blog article, showing how much the beach has been eroded. Here's a link to the large photo because you really need to see it blown up to notice the recession. Take note of where the trees are in the middle and to the left of the photographs. You can read the full blog article here.

King tides and sea level rise

Picking up on Anthony Watts' allusion to king tides, back here in Australia, there's a project that's been going for a while, taking photographs of the incursion of sea water during king tides. It's currently being organised by Green Cross Australia. You can see the photos on Flicker (all 54 pages of them).  Mostly the photos on their own don't tell you a lot. It's the relative changes over time that will be important. There are some articles and publications that describe the insights that can be gained by observing king tides:

From the WUWT comments

Louis adopts the "it's all too hard" meme and says:
August 12, 2014 at 9:33 pm
Their comparison is to a category one hurricane. Even if they could stop the sea from rising, what do they plan to do to stop hurricanes greater than category one from ever again hitting the East Coast?

Jared talks about an article he read (but no link) and says:
August 12, 2014 at 10:44 pm
I recently read an article in National Geographic that claimed the outer banks in North Carolina are being destroyed by global warming. But the true reason given in the meat of the article was land use. The barrier Island is only shrinking because human land use is preventing the Island from moving westward. If humans would let nature do its thing then the east coast would get washed away and the west coast of the Island would build up. Man though has intervened and kept the west coast from building up by infilling the inlets created by storms from the east that bring the sand needed in the west. Had nothing to do with global warming but they still blamed it.

Rhoda R saw something on The Weather Channel about the carbon cycle, but neither understood nor accepted it (and probably doesn't know who Lamarck was either, going by her poor spelling and inappropriate comparison). She says:
August 12, 2014 at 10:51 pm
Also OT but relevant: The Weather Channel is running a show that has identified CO2 as being necessary for life but they still hold by the global warming nonsense. BUT, you’ll be happy to know that a thermostat exists – it seems that volcanoes erupt to put more CO2 into the air if the planet needs to warm up while the oceans and atmospheric water absorb CO2 to cause rocks to erode when the planet needs to cool down. No joke – volcanoes happen to regulate CO2 directly and temperature indirectly. Lemarkian.

Speaking of lame, I think Neillusion is making a lame attempt at humour when he says:
August 13, 2014 at 1:26 am
On and on the spin goes – I feel eroded.

Theuerkauf, Ethan J., Antonio B. Rodriguez, Stephen R. Fegley, and Richard A. Luettich. "Sea level anomalies exacerbate beach erosion." Geophysical Research Letters (2014). DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060544


  1. Umm... how long ago was it that sea level rise wasn't even happening in WUWT's parallel universe?

  2. Five journal articles in the same year, which is only half through?!? Not bad at all!

    1. And he's got time to have a blog on top of that.


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