NYT Projects Severe South Florida Ocean Flooding Based on No Data

"SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!"

That was the demand of Jerry Maguire and the demand of your humble correspondent is SHOW ME THE DATA!!!  I make this request because Nick Madigan of the New York Times wrote an article projecting heavy ocean flooding of South Florida in this century based on no solid evidence. Here are a few samplings of Madigan's fact free alarmisms:

MIAMI BEACH — In the most dire predictions, South Florida’s delicate barrier islands, coastal communities and captivating subtropical beaches will be lost to the rising waters in as few as 100 years.

...The Florida Keys, the pearl-like strand of islands that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico, would be mostly submerged alongside their exotic crown jewel, Key West.

“I don’t think people realize how vulnerable Florida is,” Harold R. Wanless, the chairman of the geological sciences department at the University of Miami, said in an interview last week. “We’re going to get four or five or six feet of water, or more, by the end of the century. You have to wake up to the reality of what’s coming.”

And you have to wake up to the reality that your alarmist Chicken Little squawkings are supported by no data. What? Did I miss something? Nope. The article gives no actual data of how much the sea levels have risen in the past to support these silly projections. But let us now resume with the flood of alarmist absurdities presented in the article:

“People tend to underestimate the gravity here, I think, because it sounds far off,” said Ben Strauss, the director of the Program on Sea Level Rise at Climate Central, an independent organization of scientists. “People are starting to tune in, but it’s not front and center. Miami is a boom town now, but in the future that I’m very confident will come, it will be obvious to everyone that the sea is marching inland and it’s not going to stop.”

Really? Has the sea even made it yet past the oceanfront hotels of Miami Beach, many of which including the Fountainbleu were built before 1960? They all seem to have about the same amount of beach front as before.

Since this article lacks any kind of data regarding the rise (or fall) of sea levels, we must now turn to Steve Goreham of the Washington Times who provided us with the required data in September:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in 2007, “Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year over 1961 to 2003. The rate was faster over 1993 to 2003: about 3.1 mm per year.” This translates to a 100-year rise of only 7 inches and 12 inches, far below the dire predictions of the climate alarmists.

But three millimeters is about the thickness of two dimes. Can scientists really measure a change in sea level over the course of a year, averaged across the world, which is two dimes thick?

Today, sea level is measured with satellite radar altimeters. Satellites bounce radar waves off the surface of the ocean to measure the distance. Scientific organizations, such as the Sea Level Research Group at the University of Colorado (CU), use the satellite data to estimate ocean rise. The CU team estimates current ocean rise at 3.2 millimeters per year.

The organizations AVISO (Archiving, Validation, and Interpretation of Satellite Oceanographic Data) of France, CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) of Australia, and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) of the United States agree with the University of Colorado that seas are rising three millimeters per year. Given the huge natural variation in global sea level, the three millimeter number is incredible. The fact that four different organizations have arrived at the same number is suspect.

Yes, what a "coincidence." And it turns out that instead of a steady rise in the sea level, it is more like a natural fluctuation:

As Dr. Willie Soon of Harvard shows, ocean level variation is large and affected by many factors. If temperatures rise, water expands, adding to sea level rise. If icecaps melt, levels rise, but if icecaps grow due to increased snowfall, levels fall. If ocean saltiness changes, the water volume will also change.

Tides are a major source of ocean variation, primarily caused by the gravitational pull of the moon, the sun, and the rotation of the Earth. Ocean water “sloshes” from shore to shore, with tides changing as much as 38 feet per day at the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. The global average tide range is about one meter, but this daily change is still 300 times the three-millimeter change that scientists claim to be able to measure over an entire year.

Storms and weather are major factors affecting satellite measurements. Wave heights change by meters each day, dwarfing the annual rise in ocean level. Winds also change the height of the sea. The easterly wind of a strong La Niña pushes seas at Singapore to a meter higher than in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Satellites themselves have error bias. Satellite specifications claim a measurement accuracy of about one or two centimeters. How can scientists then measure an annual change of three millimeters, which is almost ten times smaller than the error in daily measurements? Measuring tools typically must have accuracy ten times better than the quantity to be measured, not ten times worse. Dr. Carl Wunsch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology commented on the satellite data in 2007, “It remains possible that the database is insufficient to compute mean sea level trends with the accuracy necessary to discuss the impact of global warming—as disappointing as this conclusion may be.”

So the margin of error is almost ten times what is being measured as supposed sea level change. Yes, the conclusion should be disappointing to global warming alarmists but that won't stop them from making wild predictions as was demonstrated by Madigan's New York Times article.

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.