Sea Level Rise – A global conspiracy unfolds – or not

Science should be unbiased and supported by the evidence alone, devoid of all politics. The source of Nils-Axel Mörner’s latest self-published “paper” is the “Centre for Democracy and Independence“. The aim is clear; a politically motived piece attempting to discredit sea level rise.

For sea level NOT to be rising would require that the ocean is NOT warming, that glaciers are NOT melting, that subsequent data from Jason1 & Jason2 satellites are also being tampered with, gravity data from Grace is also being modified, along with hundreds of tidal gauges all in a concerted effort to fool people. This is either a conspiracy bigger than anythig this planet has seen before, or it’s complete utter bullshit.

Jibber & Jabber but Zero Evidence

Mörner’s argument begins with an accusation of conspiracy “One of the keepers of the satellite record told Professor Mörner that the record had been interfered with to show sea level rising, because the raw data from the satellites showed no increase in global sea level at all.” And he goes on to show how the TOPEX/POSEIDON (T/P) data might have changed over time by comparing two papers from 200 and 2003.

You can download the data from the Boulder of Colorado University.  It combines data from TOPEX / Poseidon (T/P), Jason-1 and Jason-2 to give a continuous record (as explained here).

Sea Level Rise

Mörner believes the data has been manipulated since it was used in Menard, 2000. Mörner’s citation is poor and I couldn’t locate the original source of the graphs. Reading further into Mörner’s paper we find a possible reason …

Christopher Monckton sensitively extracted the introductory main points, redrew several graphs and asked for additional observational material.

Mörner’s friend Monckton, already renowned for faking data in graphs, was helping by “redrawing” the new graphs, whatever that means. But let’s assume for the moment, that the data Monckton has plotted is correct.

Graphing Errors

The two graphs (first graph cited as Menard 2000, and second as Aviso 2003) both show T/P data with the latter also including Jason-1 data.

Deceptively and possible intentionally, they (Monckton) has used different scales for the Y axis making the first graph seem as if there is less warming. The second graph only labels T/P through to ~cycle 235 which doesn’t match up with the first graph. The truth is that there was overlap which enabled scientists to study the different biases.

Mörner seems astonished to find that a change in rate occurs between the two studies. I’m not sure why since the studies are use different data. Do the studies also use different methods? We are left to only wonder since Mörner’s citation is poor and the original source difficult to locate.

Supporting Evidence or Supporting Colusion?

But if the authors of the second study DID change the data, how did they also influence the Jason-1 and Jason-2 datasets which also show large amounts of sea level rise?

And since thermal expansion of the oceans is also known to cause an increase in sea level, how then does Mörner explain the contradiction? Ocean Heat Content has been increasing, which leads to increasing sea levels (and that’s what real scientists find) but what is Mörner’s explanation for thermal expansion? We know the oceans have warmer, so where is the water expanding to? Or is he claiming the scientists reporting ocean heat are also corrupt?

The polar regions are also warming and glaciers shrinking in size. Where is the melt-water going if not into the oceans? Numerous organisations around the world are documenting glacial retreat. Is Mörner suggesting they are doctoring the photographs?

More likely Mörner is wrong in his accusation of serious global secretive fraud, and instead the data showing glacial melt, thermal expansion of the oceans, change in gravity (Grace) all matching well with the amount of sea level rise measured by satellites and tidal gauges, is actually correct.

Local vs Global

Seriously. Why is it so difficult for climate denialists to tell the difference between GLOBAL data and LOCAL data.

Nils-Axel Mörner’s track record is not good. His claim that the Maldives sea level had dropped by 30cms was rebutted and in this self-published paper Mörner provides a few hand-selected examples of sites that show little or no sea level rise. Even if he is correct about those sites, BIG freekin deal! We already expected sea level rise to be uneven and negative in some areas and that’s exactly what we’re finding.

All Mörner is demonstrating at this point is his own ignorance, or a deceptive effort to fool the unwary.


Mörner goes on to blame ENSO for the increase in sea level rise during the T/P era, specifically 1997. Whilst there may well be a relationship between ENSO and sea level’s it can only be a fluctuation and not the cause.

The ENSO system has cycled many times since 1992, yet sea level rise continues unabated.


The data from the Grace satellite can be used to show the change in gravity caused by the moment of water & ice around the planet.

Mörner believes the analysis is incorrect but rather than address this in the peer-reviewed science (for which he has already published much material) he simply reports it here in his own self-published paper.

The peer-reviewed science disagrees with him, but let’s entertain the idea for a moment that Grace did in fact show less sea level rise for a short while. This is also nothing new, the satellite altimetry record also shows periods of no sea level rise. And using the data recently scientists showed how the increased rainfall in some areas had temporarily relocated the water inland. But it eventually found its way back into the ocean and the sea level rise continued.

The Last Interglacial

Mörner now says one of the dumbest things I’ve heard in a long time. His exact words …

During the last interglacial, ~125,000 years ago, mean surface temperature was 4 C° warmer than today and sea level was generally higher than today. … No catastrophic sea level rise at the end of the last interglacial can be substantiated. Consequently, there is no reason to hypothesize that any similar event would be likely to occur in our near future.

He argues that because sea levels didn’t cause a catastrophe 125,000 years ago, that today we should be ok today.

125,000 years ago, there was no one to record whether or not the sea level rise was catastrophic or not. Humans are estimated to be less than a million in number and were only just beginning to leave Africa. It’s little wonder a sea level rise of several meters back then had less impact than it will today. We did not populate the vast low lying areas of the globe in the hundreds of millions as we do today.

But Mörner’s argument, dumb as it is, does server to demonstrate the calibre of his thinking.


YACT  = Yet Another Conspiracy Theory

FACT = Multiple independent agencies around the world using different methods all come up with very similar estimates for the rates of sea level rise.

CU: 3.1 ± 0.4 mm/yr
AVISO: 3.1 ± 0.6 mm/yr
CSIRO: 3.1 ± 0.4 mm/yr
NOAA: 3.1 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)

FACT = Sea level rise data fits in with observations of the change in gravity, with observations of melting land-based ice and with the observed warming of the ocean.

The only option left for the “skeptic’ is to claim a conspiracy on a global scale involving great coordination between international agencies. It takes a certain kind of lunatic to propose this, fortunately the climate denialists have just the man. Co-author Christopher Monckton.


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8 Responses to “Sea Level Rise – A global conspiracy unfolds – or not”

  1. Marco Says:

    Mörner has used the same references before, in Lyndon LaRouche’s publication “21st century science and technology”. There he provided the full citation for Menard:
    G. Menard, 2000. “Satellite-based altimetry reveals
    physical ocean.” MEDIAS Newsletter, Vol. 12,
    pp. 9-17.

    Not quite a peer reviewed publication AFAIK!

  2. Nice One Says:

    Good point Marco. So the source of Mörner’s global conspiracy is someone’s graph done in a newsletter.

    It would seem different papers have used different methods on the T/P data to get different results.

    Click to access cazenave_uk.pdf

    But Mörner’s a total nutter if he thinks that means the data is being manipulated when it matches all other evidence too. Why is it always the old grey ones? Not to be ageist or anything. 😉

  3. Eddie Sharpe Says:

    I see this is a very poular site. That doesn’t make it wrong though. It manages that all by itself.

  4. Oksanna Zoschenko (@OshZosh) Says:

    The satellites’ raw data have failed to show any meaningful rise in global sea levels. However, after the data has been adjusted, there is discernible rise which, surprise surprise, falls into the range predicted by IPCC. Whether it is the land temperature records, or the sea-level records, the recent adjustments are always upwards and old data nudged down and voila! Catastrophic whatever is manufactured. Australian researchers Doug Lord and Ken Stewart had their September 2011 research papers “pulled” from publication by officials when their research found a peculiar absence of sea level rise in Australia. Stewart found an 8-fold exaggeration in the erroneous official figures. It is the fiddling with the data, with resultant misleading of public to pursue an agenda, that is the real scandal here. Nils Axel-Morner is the researcher lambasted here, who receives very little coverage who finds that sea levels are not really going anywhere soon. Frank Lasner on his blog HideTheDecline has done some research showing just how sea-level satellite data has scandalously been adjusted retrospectively to give the appearance of acceleration when there is, in fact, none. The concluding characterisation of Monckton, who suffers a congenital illness, does this smear blog little credit.

    • itsnotnova Says:

      You say so much but without published results to back up your claims – just like Joanne Nova.

      Latest findings suggest we have underestimated sea level acceleration by overestimating older sea level rise.

      • Oksanna Says:

        Pulling papers from publication after they have passed peer review, as happened to Stewart and Lord’s sea-level papers in 2011, I guess conforms to the scientific standards on display in the CRU so-called Climategate emails, you know…

        From Phil Jones To: Michael Mann (Pennsylvania State University). July 8, 2004
        “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

        Yes, and we know all about that little trick of adjusting the past warming or the past sea-level rise downwards. It is called in the trade ‘homogenisation’. Produces some really amazing, scary, faked acceleration from the more recent data. Just the ticket. Only problem is, there are guys like Ken Stewart (kenskingdom), Frank Lasner (mentioned in my previous post), and more recently, Paul Homewood from the blog Notalotofpeopleknowthat, who have been looking at just this one cheap little trick. They are following in the footsteps of people like Anthony Watts of WUWT, and Steve McIntyre (Climate Audit), who found, respectively, serious problems with UHI, and Mann’s Hockey Stick graph.

      • itsnotnova Says:

        The scientific process has a way of weeding out the crap.

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