For over 100 years the North European cities of Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki have been steadily rising from the sea with no suggestion from observed evidence that local sea levels will not continue to drop by a few millimetres a year. That is until 2020, when the IPCC’s new AR6 Sea Level Projection Tool suddenly promoted substantial sea level rises all round. The discovery appears to baffle Ole Humlum, Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Oslo. It seems that this tool was not produced to test the validity of a scientific idea. It was instead an attempt to “alarm the user”, he said.
Alarm it has. Since this Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) computer model was first made publicly available in 2020, there has been a rush of unchecked ‘flood’ stories in the mainstream media. The Daily Sceptic has reported on the activities of a US-based green agitprop operation called Climate Central that is backed by billionaire Foundations and uses the IPCC data to promote custom-made flood catastrophe stories in local media. Recently the Mirror reported that much of London could be gone within 80 years, while large area along the Humber and the Midlands could also disappear beneath the waves. Local politicians such as London mayor Sadiq Khan pick up on these fantastical stories and use them to justify harsh ‘climate’ polices, including an assault on private transport.
This is what Humlum found when he interrogated the IPCC’s new sea level change computer projection model for the coastal city of Oslo. The Norwegian capital, in common with other Scandinavian cities, was buried under a massive ice sheet that only started to lift 20,000 years ago. Even today, the area experiences an ongoing ‘isostatic’ land rise of several millimetres a year as it bounces back from underlying layers. The observed rate of sea level decline can be seen in the above graph in purple. If the 100-year plus observational trend continues, the sea level will fall by 28cm by the end of the century. The IPCC model forecasts a rise in sea level by 2100 of 17cm. Humlum found similar IPCC patterns and disconnects for the capitals of Sweden and Finland. Copenhagen was at the margin of the ice sheet, and a very small annual increase has become a substantial uplift of 45cm by 2100.
It is “extremely surprising”, observes Humlum, that this modelled change should first appear in 2020 as a rather marked step change in the relative sea level. Humlum suggests that if the modellers had produced data going back to 1950, “the conflict between measured and modelled data would immediately have become apparent”. In Humlum’s view, “it is highly disappointing that such a simple quality – or sanity check – was apparently never requested or performed by the IPCC”.
Humlum’s work features in the recently-published Clintel Report – The Frozen Climate Views of the IPCC – and is part of a detailed and critical examination of the UN organisation’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). As we noted recently, the scientific authors are damning about much of the IPCC’s work. In addition to emphasising worst-case scenarios, it rewrites climate history, has a “huge” bias in favour of bad news, and keeps good news out of the widely-distributed Summary for Policy Makers. The worst case scenario is called SSP5-8.5 and it assumes temperatures will rise by up to 5°C within less than 80 years. Given that temperatures increased by barely 0.1°C in the first two decades of this century, almost nobody believe these scenarios are remotely plausible. Nevertheless, Clintel notes that 43% of IPCC predictions of drastic and damaging climate change, and around half the climate science literature, are based on these scenarios.
Humlum’s graph uses only a moderate SSP2-4.5 scenario. The more extreme scenarios are available to use on the IPCC Tool, a fact that might explain how, with the help of Climate Central, the Wilshire Times reported last year that by 2050 the waters could be lapping around Gloucester Cathedral, sited at an elevation of 19 metres. For its part, Climate Central notes that it provides “authoritative information to help the public and policymakers make sound decisions about climate change and energy”.
The level of the sea is very difficult to measure and despite recent advances in satellite altimetry, tidal gauges still offer a consistent record. Humlum has noted that these gauges located around the world suggest an average sea level rise of 1-2mm a year. Recent modelled attempts to incorporate satellite measurements produce a rise that that is said to be over 3mm. The IPCC is claiming a recent acceleration in sea level rise, but Humlum says the evidence for this is “thin”. The tide gauge records are said to show “remarkably linear behaviour for more than a century”.
Humlum says it is likely that the IPCC conflates what it sees as a recent “acceleration” in sea level with ocean multidecadal variability. “This should become clear in the next 10-20 years,” he writes. “Right now, it is very preliminary to claim there is an acceleration of the sea level rise.”
The starting point for the IPCC’s work is the assumption that all warming from about 1850 was caused by humans burning fossil fuel. Its 1988 founding principles told it to determine the “scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change”. Given this dogma, the IPPC has become uniquely unsuited to considering all aspects of climate change, whether arising from the activities of humans or due to natural causes. Since 1988, there is considerably more understanding about the natural forces that cause the climate to change. Humlum feels that the IPCC’s blinkered view may have led to its latest errors in sea level modelling. “The fundamental IPCC finding of no significant influence of natural variations since about 1850 should therefore be reconsidered,” he argues.
The more cynical might note that the IPCC’s primary purpose is to promote the idea that the sole cause of global warming since 1850 is human activity. Any deviation from this line will cause considerable financial hardship and widespread unemployment in the climate science community.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic Environment Editor.
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