Wondering Willis Eschenbach doesn't usually go in for straight fabrication of other people's work, but he made some exceptions today. Usually he'll just wonder and ponder and either invent stuff out of nothing or claim well-established science as his own, usually distorting it.
Today he decided to go for straight misrepresentation (archived here). Or should I say crooked misrepresentation. Almost everything he wrote in his article is contradicted by the work of the scientists he claims to be writing about.
Willis started off with a three year old email, with Kevin Trenberth replying to an "anonymous coward". The email and its response is here:
From: “Kevin Trenberth” <trenbert@XXXXX.edu>
To: “Dr XXXX” <email@example.com>
Sent: January XX, 2011 X:XX PM
Subject: Re: warming
Thank you for your prompt reply. I’m 62 and now semi-retired. I’d like to bring myself up to speed on global warming, which I read is one of the great catastrophes of our time. You describe rising sea levels as being the evidence for man caused global warming. It had been my understanding that sea levels have been rising steadily for thousands of years and now at a very slow rate. I know there’s been a huge increase in man’s CO2 in the heavy industrialisation since World War 2. How has this increase in man’s CO2 effected sea levels ?
To which Kevin Trenberth replied:
The rates have not been steady and picked up markedly in the mid 20th century and even more since 1990 or so. CO2 has been increasing since 1750 although mainly since 1850.
Given the tone of the email, it was good of Dr Trenberth to bother responding, don't you think? Willis made the original sender an "anonymous coward". All in a bad cause, I expect. Perhaps to shield them from questions like: why send an email to Kevin Trenberth asking him about sea level? Why not ask someone who does research on sea level.
And why on earth would anyone go to Willis Eschenbach on sea level. Willis doesn't even understand what causes winter and summer. How could he hope to understand anything about sea level.
Well, it turns out he doesn't understand anything about sea level. Let's see what he got wrong.
One thing Willis got wrong was a 2011 paper by Church and White (open access). John Church and Neil White are both scientists with Australia's CSIRO, whose work spans more than 30 years in ocean and marine science. Between them they've got more than sixty years experience. They both specialise in sea level studies. Below is Figure 5 from their paper:
Just as Kevin Trenberth wrote at the time (2011), there was a bit of a hike in the rate of rise in the mid-twentieth century, and another one more recently. Willis, who has zero years of experience in sea level, thinks he can dismiss the work of this expert team by writing:
...Why is there such a jump in the C/W analysis?
It’s because Church and White played fast and loose. They simply spliced the satellite-based sea level data onto the tidal stations data, ignoring the fact that the satellite rise is about 50% higher than the tidal station data. So they just hoisted up the tidal data by that amount, so it would kinda sorta match to the satellite data … and then smoothed the splice with a centered filter. Bad scientists … no cookies.
I don't know what "jump" he is talking about. In any case, John Church and Neil White didn't "just hoist up" tidal data. Go on, read the paper for yourself. It describes the intricacies of working out global mean sea level for the period prior to satellite altimetry data. And it refers to the differences between global mean sea level and coastal sea level. Willis just doesn't have a clue. Not that I'm pretending any expertise but it's easy to see that Willis is wrong here and the scientists are right.
Willis decides to play off Church and White 2011 against Jevrejeva2014. Well, here's the plotted data from Jevrejeva et al (2014) for comparison, so I really don't know what Willis is going on about:
|Data source: Jevrejeva 2014|
That's not too different from the Church and White chart. The Jevrejeva chart also shows a jump in the rate mid-century. It then flattens out a bit before jumping again in more recent years. With the exception of the big dip in 2010-11, when the water shifted from the oceans to Australia and South America as we got inundated in floods. It soon flowed back into the oceans, as you can see. Anyway, Jevrejeva et al found that the rate of sea level rise has now jumped to over 3 mm/year from 1.8 mm / year average over the twentieth century.
Willis once again says the complete opposite to what the scientists found. He wrote:
As you can see, the idea that the rate of sea level rise “picked up markedly in the mid 20th century” is totally contradicted by the Jevrejeva data.Yet you don't just have to see he's wrong from looking at the above charts. Jevrejeva14 itself has a comparison. If you look at the chart below that Jevrejeva14 themselves did, comparing their analysis with that of Church and White, you can see that the Jevrejeva actually found a bit steeper rise in the mid-twentieth century (blue) than did Church and White (red). Once again, that's the complete opposite of what Willis wrote.
What else does Willis get wrong? Well, he refers to a 2014 paper by Anny Cazenave and colleagues (remembering that Kevin Trenberth replied to the email back in 2011) and says:
But wait, it gets worse. In fact, far from increasing as Trenberth claimed, the satellite-measured sea level rise has actually been decreasing, as shown by Cazenave et al. …
But the Cazenave paper states the very opposite to what Willis said - in the abstract (my emphasis):
We find that when correcting for interannual variability, the past decade’s slowdown of the global mean sea level disappears, leading to a similar rate of sea-level rise (of 3.3 ± 0.4 mm yr−1) during the first and second decade of the altimetry era.
What Willis did was take the top half of Figure 2 to hide the fact that sea level hasn't slowed down, once corrected for interannual variability as shown in b below. Here is the full chart from Figure 2, with Willis hiding part b down the bottom:
And here is Figure 1 from Cazenave14:
If you click on that chart to enlarge it, you can see how the rate of sea level rise from 2003 to 2011 was similar to that from 1994 to 2002, after correcting the GMSL for the mass and thermosteric interannual variability (b). I found this pdf of Cazenave14, and there is this article about it if you want to learn more.
If you compare all the papers, they all find that the recent rate of sea level rise is above 3mm/year now. Which is higher than the average of the twentieth century, although there have been short periods in the twentieth century when seas probably rose as quickly.
Almost everything that Willis wrote was back to front, the opposite, from what the scientists themselves wrote. Why is Willis making up this stuff? Why was he being so deceitful? I mean he even provided links to the papers that he misrepresented. Perhaps it's because he knows that he can say anything at WUWT because Anthony Watts can't tell if it would "stand the harsh light of public exposure".
I might as well put up Willis' chart of sea level, together with the chart from U Colorado showing the Global Mean Sea Level Time Series (seasonal signals removed).
First the real one, using U Colorado data from here, to which I've added an eleven period moving average. (The period is neither weeks nor months. I just added it to smooth the data a bit):
Next Wondering Willis' version. Heaven only knows what he thinks it's meant to be. He claims it's "Variations in the sea level as measured by the TOPEX/JASON satellites" but it bears no relation to anything I can find anywhere. As well as that, he chops it off at 2009 for some weird reason:
From the WUWT comments
Siberian Husky managed to get in an early comment, saying what most of you would be thinking:
November 15, 2014 at 10:47 pm
Dr. Trenberth is busy. He has a career. And a life. In fact it’s pretty impressive that he gave a few minutes of his time to this.
The highest rate of change in the Church and White graph is around 1990.
The second or maybe third highest point is around the mid-century.
Still sea levels continue to rise. Where’s all that global cooling you keep on telling us about?
Stop nit-picking and get a life.
Sam Grove directed this comment at Siberian Husky, but it should have been directed to Wondering Willis Eschenbach, who was the one who focused on short term variations rather than long term trends:
November 15, 2014 at 11:13 pm
Geez, Husky, when one is looking for long term trends, you don’t focus on the short term variations, you average them out. There are peaks and there are minima, but the overall trend is gradual and counter balanced by the satellite measurements.
That's about it for now. So far there are only eight comments. I expect that even the WUWT-ers are scratching their heads wondering what has got into Wondering Willis.
Church, John A., and Neil J. White. "Sea-level rise from the late 19th to the early 21st century." Surveys in Geophysics 32, no. 4-5 (2011): 585-602. doi: 10.1007/s10712-011-9119-1
Jevrejeva, S., J. C. Moore, A. Grinsted, A. P. Matthews, and G. Spada. "Trends and acceleration in global and regional sea levels since 1807." Global and Planetary Change 113 (2014): 11-22. (link)
Cazenave, Anny, Habib-Boubacar Dieng, Benoit Meyssignac, Karina von Schuckmann, Bertrand Decharme, and Etienne Berthier. "The rate of sea-level rise." Nature Climate Change 4, no. 5 (2014): 358-361. doi:10.1038/nclimate2159