Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Climate Hustle

Doctoring sea level data

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate

The claim sea level isn’t rising is based on blatantly doctored graphs contradicted by observations.

Climate Myth...

Sea level is not rising
"Together, these two unaltered [sea level] datasets indicate that global mean sea level trend has remained stable over the entire period 1992-2007, altogether eliminating the apparent 3.2 mm/year rate of sea-level rise arising from the “adjusted” data." (Christopher Monckton)

We have a new entry in the contest for most bizarre "skeptic" argument.  The "Science" and Public Policy Institute ("S"PPI) Monthly CO2 Report for January 2011, edited by Christopher Monckton,  claims on page 29: "Sea level is not rising."

This is of course false.  In fact, sea level is not only rising, but the rise is accelerating.  Immediately below this false claim, the document contains the following figure:

Morner sea level delusion

Notice that the caption claims the blue curve is observational sea level data "up to 1960 according to Professor Morner."  Of course, after 1960 (when the "observations" are apparently just made up) is not only when the "observations" supposedly diverge from the models, but also when they diverge from reality!  Ah, but it gets even worse from here.  On page 33, the document presents what may be my favorite figure of all time:

Monckton batshit insane

Monckton and "S"PPI have taken the sea level graph from the University of Colorado at Boulder which shows a 3.2 milimeter per year sea level rise trend (as is still visible in the bottom right of the graph), rotated it to make the trend look flat, and claimed that this is what the "unaltered" and "uncorrected" data looks like.

It boggles the mind that Monckton and the "S"PPI think they can convince people that sea level has dropped since 1950 based on nothing more than their own unsubstantiated claims and blatantly doctored graphs which are completely contradicted by the actual observational data.

Basic rebuttal written by dana1981

Update July 2015:

Here is a related lecture-video from Denial101x - Making Sense of Climate Science Denial


Last updated on 8 July 2015 by pattimer. View Archives

Printable Version  |  Offline PDF Version  |  Link to this page


Comments 1 to 8:

  1. This explanation is not up to the standards of excellence I would expect from this site. What would be helpful is more explanation in support of the statements that LMVoB (Monckton) has blatantly doctored graphs, notably a discussion of his key claim that "a global isostatic adjustment correction" is open to questioning. He says in the caption to the graph that appears before the second one you show: "The question is whether or not this “correction” is justifiable." Quite. Given this is his justification for tipping the graph like so, I would be grateful if someone with a better grasp of such things than I could furnish an answer.
  2. My own blog entry on this matter
    Response: TC: The comments policy states that:

    "Any link or picture should be accompanied by text summarizing both the content of the link or picture, and showing how it is relevant to the topic of discussion."

    Your post does not meet these conditions. Future posts consisting of a link only and inadequately explaining the content and relevance of the link may be summarily deleted (which is a lot less work for the moderators).

    For the record, the linked post is an extensive discussion of the noted contrarian Niels Axel-Morner's obfustications of the rise in sea level.
  3. I get the impression that this explanation is muddled. The 'myth' statement says:

    "the rate of increase in sea level has not changed since satellites first began measuring it reliably in 1993"
    (i.e. talking about a real but constant rate of increase with time: saying that the derivative dLevel/dTime is constant).

    ... but 'what the science says' gives:

    'The claim sea level isn’t rising is based on blatantly doctored graphs contradicted by observations'
    (i.e. suggesting that the 'myth' is not talking about a rate (derivative) but about the absolute level. Personally I didn't read it that way).

    I don't have much respect for Christopher Monckton, but I'm not sure that his standpoint is being correctly addressed here. And arguably, the 'myth' statement justifies his trick of sloping the graph: it can be seen as a convenient way of illustrating that the line is straight, i.e. no acceleration.
  4. Antwerpenaar:

    If only you were correct.

    The summary of the myth is ambiguous but when combined with the graphs that are part of the SPPI document I think the meaning is clear. At any rate, I suspect you have inadverently mis-paraphrased the myth statement, which cites Monckton as claiming:

    Together, these two unaltered [sea level] datasets indicate that global mean sea level trend has remained stable over the entire period 1992-2007, altogether eliminating the apparent 3.2 mm/year rate of sea-level rise arising from the “adjusted” data. [Emphasis mine.]

    When combined with the SPPI graphs, it is IMO clear that Monckton is claiming sea levels are not rising at all.

    I assume you have cited an actual quote by Monckton as well (in fact, it would not surprise me if it was from the same document that this rebuttal cites), which is probably par for the course from Monckton.
  5. Composer99:

    thanks for the very useful reply. However for clarification: my citations are copied directly from the table on the front page of SkS 'Monckton Myths', hence my comment about these seeming muddled. Could I suggest a clarification?
  6. Ahhhhhh.

    I think you are correct there: the myth Monckton promulgates in the 'Monckton Myths page' is different than the myth he promulgates at the top of this article (surely a Monckton vs Monckton moment if ever there was one).

    However, your point stands: when Monckton claims sea level isn't rising, this is the article to go to. When he claims, as per myth #1 on the Monctkon myth page, that sea level rise is not accelerating, surely there is another, better rebuttal to use. This one might do.
  7. Something has been bothering me for a while, but I've found no mentions in the literature. Maybe someone here has knowledge.

    We know with increasing storms and precipitation causing massive flooding, landslides and topsoil degrading, the latter is talked about as harming agriculture. All the soil washed away eventually ends up in rivers and then the sea. It has volume, it is increasing. Archimedes?

    Is anyone attempting to estimate the volume of loss and its effect on sea level rise added to all the other causes we know about? There are figures for soil loss annually, which one site claimed was the size of Wales, but no volumes and I know nothing about soil scince or erosion. However small, it's bound to add. Additionally, there's coastal erosion which is also adding annually to the eureka effect.

  8. I wonder how Monkton or anyone with a graph they believe disproves rise would care to explain how come the North Norfolk coast is getting increasingly flooded from the North Sea, and the golf course at Brancaster, just to cite one place, is expecting to lose its course by 2020 as it's close to the sea with just dunes protecting. And as no houses on the seaward side of the coast road can get mortgages.

Post a Comment

Political, off-topic or ad hominem comments will be deleted. Comments Policy...

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.

Link to this page

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

Smartphone Apps


© Copyright 2018 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us