Posts Tagged ‘On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century’

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Rahmstorf (2011): Robust or Just Busted (Part 6): Holgate’s sea level data

November 11, 2012

This is part 6 of a multi-part series about “Testing the robustness of semi-empirical sea level projections,” Rahmstorf, et. al., Climate Dynamics, 2011. You can see an index of all parts here. I frequently refer to this paper as R2011.

Recall figure 1 from R2011[1]…

Figure 1 from "Testing the robustness of semi-empirical sea level projections" (Rahmstorf, et. al., Climate Dynamics, 2011)

One of the primary points of this graphic is the quadratic fit of one data set (CW06) overlaid on all the other data sets.  The message that you are to receive is that these various sets of sea level data all tell the same essential story.  The falseness of this claim was discussed in “Quadratic fits of laughter.”

But let’s take Rahmstorf at his word.  Let’s agree with him that these sea level data sets all tell essentially the same story.  R2011′s big point is that the Rahmstorf model is “robust” given a variety of different historical data sources.  So it seems a tad bit strange that after going to all the trouble to point out these various sea level data sources and their similarities, he only gives the projection results of his model for three of them (CW06[2], CW11[3], and JE08[4]).

Of those three input sea level data sets, only two of them give similar sea level projections for the 21st century.  The outlier which results from CW11 shows significantly lower sea level projections.  Because of this, the outlier must be rejected (according to R2011), even though Church and White, the authors of both CW06 and CW11, clearly think the CW11 data is an improvement over their Cw06 data.

What about some of the other sea level rise data sets shown in R2011′s figure 1?  What type of 21st century sea level projections do they yield when inserted into Rahmstorf’s model?

Holgate’s sea level data

Let’s consider the sea level rise data of Simon Holgate.    The above image shows Holgate’s 2004 data[5], labeled HW04.  As I have previously pointed out, R2011 oddly includes Holgate’s 2004 data but ignores his 2007 data[6], H07.  I will consider both.  In my previous post I showed the results of Rahmstorf’s model when either CW06 and CW11 are input with six different combinations of reservoir storage and ground water depletion inputs.  The following two graphs show the results in the same format using HW04 and H07 (instead of CWo6 and CW11) with the same combination of reservoir storage and ground water depletion inputs.  I have kept the horizontal axis scaling the same as in the previous post to highlight the different results when Church and White data is used and when Holgate data is used.  Data files with all the specifics of this data are at the bottom of the post.

FIGURE 2. Sea level rise projections for the 21st century based on my implementation of Rahmstorf’s model under the RCP45 emissions scenario (Moss, 2010)[7] for Holgate sea level data coupled with various combinations of reservoir storage and groundwater depletion data inputs.
FIGURE 3. Sea level rise projections for the 21st century based on my implementation of Rahmstorf’s model under the RCP85 emissions scenario (Moss, 2010)[7] for Holgate sea level data coupled with various combinations of reservoir storage and groundwater depletion data inputs.

For comparison, here are the previously posted results using Church and White sea level data…

 RCP45

 RCP85

Hmmm…

Didn’t R2011 imply that those various sea level data sets shown if figure 1, above, told the same essential story?  Yes, I believe he did!  That is why they overlaid the same quadratic fit onto all of them.

And didn’t R2011 say that their model was “robust?”  Yes, I am quite certain that they did!  In fact the word “robust” was in the title of their paper, and they said…

“We determine the parameters of the semiempirical link between global temperature and global sea level in a wide variety of ways…We then compare projections of all these different model versions (over 30) for a moderate global warming scenario for the period 2000–2100. We find the projections are robust

and

“we will systematically explore how robust semi-empirical sea level projections are with respect  to the choice of data sets”

So, they claim to use “a wide variety of ways” to look at “all these different model versions (over 30).”  They show plots of seven different sea level data sets and imply their similarity.  But they only show projections based on three of them.  Then they reject the projections based on one of the three, even though it is arguably the best sea level data of the bunch.

What do they say about their model’s projections based on the “wide variety” other sea level data sets that look so good overlaid with the same quadratic fit…?

Cricket. Cricket.

How would R2011 reject the projections based on the Holgate data?

How would R2011 reject the projections based on the Holgate data that I have shown above in figures 2 and 3?  Well they would undoubtedly point out that the fit parameter, To (the so called baseline temperature, is way too low.  Recall, R2011 finds To to be on the order of -0.4 °C (below the 1950 to 1980 global average).  When Holgate’s sea level data is used, To is on the order of -4.0 °C.  Hey Rahmstorf, don’t blame me, its your model!

Maybe one of these days I will write a justification for a large negative To.  It is really quite simple.  But I am going to conclude for today.

Which of the many projections do I endorse?

Which projections are better – the ones based on CW06, CW11, JE08, HW04, or H07?  None of them.  As I have pointed out over and over, the Rahmstorf model is bogus, bogus, bogus.  I have now shown, again, that it is also not robust.  It is only marginally better than a random number generator.  HIgher temperatures would likely lead to higher sea levels, but Rahmstorf’s model is useless in determining how much.

Data files with specifics of of my implementation of Rahmstorf’s model using Holgate sea level data

Sea level data: Holgate and Woodworth 2004
Reservoir storage: Chao 2oo8
Ground water depletion: none
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121110-165152.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121110-165152.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121110-165152.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121110-165152.png

Sea level data: Holgate and Woodworth 2004
Reservoir storage: Chao 2oo8
Ground water depletion: Wada 2010 extrapolated to 1880
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121029-132349.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121029-132349.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121029-132349.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121029-132349.png

Sea level data: Holgate and Woodworth 2004
Reservoir storage: Chao 2oo8
Ground water depletion: Wada 2010
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121029-132148.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121029-132148.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121029-132148.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121029-132148.png

Sea level data: Holgate and Woodworth 2004
Reservoir storage: Chao 2oo8
Ground water depletion: Wada 2012
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121105-230616.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121105-230616.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121105-230616.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121105-230616.png

Sea level data: Holgate and Woodworth 2004
Reservoir storage: Pokhrel 2012 extrapolated back to 1900
Ground water depletion: Pokhrel 2012 extrapolated back to 1900
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121029-133403.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121029-133403.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121029-133403.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121029-133403.png

Sea level data: Holgate and Woodworth 2004
Reservoir storage: Pokhrel 2012
Ground water depletion: Pokhrel 2012
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121029-132906.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121029-132906.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121029-132906.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121029-132906.png

Sea level data: Holgate 2007
Reservoir storage: Chao 2008
Ground water depletion: none
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121029-133753.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121029-133753.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121029-133753.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121029-133753.png

Sea level data: Holgate 2007
Reservoir storage: Chao 2008
Ground water depletion: Wada 2010 extrapolated to 1880
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121029-135519.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121029-135519.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121029-135519.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121029-135519.png

Sea level data: Holgate 2007
Reservoir storage: Chao 2008
Ground water depletion: Wada 2010
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121029-134334.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121029-134334.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-1209121029-134334.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121029-134334.png

Sea level data: Holgate 2007
Reservoir storage: Chao 2008
Ground water depletion: Wada 2012
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121029-135834.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121029-135834.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121029-135834.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121029-135834.png

Sea level data: Holgate 2007
Reservoir storage: Pokhrel 2012 extrapolated to 1900
Ground water depletion: Pokhrel 2012 extrapolated to 1900
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121029-175833.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121029-175833.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121029-175833.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121029-175833.png

Sea level data: Holgate 2007
Reservoir storage: Pokhrel 2012
Ground water depletion: Pokhrel 2012
Result files…
Summary: vr-summary-121029-140159.doc
Inputs: vr-input-image-121029-140159.png
Fit: vr-fit-image-121029-140159.png
Projections: vr-projections-image-121029-140159.png

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[1]  Rahmstorf, S., et. al., “Testing the robustness of semi-empirical sea level projections” Climate Dynamics, 2011

[2] Church, J. A., and N. J. White, “A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise“,  Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, 2006

[3] Church, J. A. and N.J. White, “Sea-level rise from the late 19th to  the early 21st Century“, Surveys in Geophysics, 2011

[4] Jevrejeva, S., et. al. “Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago? ,”  Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, 2008

[5] Holgate, S. J. and Woodworth, P.L., “Evidence for enhanced coastal sea level rise during the 1990s,” Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, 2004

[6] Holgate, S.J., “On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century,” Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, 2007

[7] Moss, et. al., “The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment,” Nature, 463, 2010

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Rahmstorf (2011): Robust or Just Busted (Part 2) – Quadratic Fits of Laughter

July 6, 2012

This is part 2 of a multi-part series about “Testing the robustness of semi-empirical sea level projections,” Rahmstorf, et. al., Climate Dynamics, 2011. You can see an index of all parts here. I frequently refer to this paper as R2011.

I will refer to Stefan Rahmstorf’s “Testing the robustness of semi-empirical sea level projections”  as R2011 [1].

This post is all about fitting sea level data to a quadratic.

There is only one reason to fit sea level vs. time data to a quadratic: to highlight an acceleration trend.  It only makes sense to do so if you think that the trend is more or less uniform over time.  I have warned against reading too much into a quadratic fit, and especially against using a quadratic fit to imply a future trend in sea level.

I have seen something in R2011 that I have never seen before.  The use of a quadratic fit as a kind of “optical delusion.”

Consider the image at the right.  Do you see the triangle?  Sure you do.  Of course, it is not really there.  But what would you say if I insisted that the triangle really was there and said “The circles are shown merely to help the eye find the triangle?”

R2011 has done much the same thing with a quadratic data fit in their figure 1.   I would think what they have done was just a joke, if it weren’t such an obvious attempt to convince readers that the data says something that it does not say.  Take a look…

Figure 1 from "Testing the robustness of semi-empirical sea level projections" (Rahmstorf, et. al., Climate Dynamics, 2011)

Note the dashed grey lines through each data set.  As R2011 explains in their caption, these dashed  grey lines which pass through all the data sets, are actually the quadratic fit to just one of the data sets (CW06)[2].  They say

“The dashed grey line is a quadratic fit to the CW06 data, shown here merely to help the eye in the comparison of the data sets.”

The point the R2011 wants to make, of course, is that all of these data sets have the same acceleration trend as R2011′s preferred sea level data, CW06.

But that is not true.  In fact, if you fit any of the other data sets to a quadratic you will see that every single one of them has a lower trend than CW06 when projected through the 21st century. Every single one of them.

The following figure shows proper quadratic fits to all the sea level data sets used by R2011 in their figure 1.  The legend shows the sea level rise that would result for the period 2000 to 2100 if these quadratics were extrapolated to 2100.

Quadratic fits for all sea level data sets used by R2011 in their figure 1. The legend shows the sea level rise that would result for the period 2000 to 2100 if these quadratics were extrapolated to 2100
Quadratic fits for all sea level data sets used by R2011 in their figure 1. The legend shows the sea level rise that would result for the period 2000 to 2100 if these quadratics were extrapolated to 2100

Updated Holgate data

Science is about constant refinement of theories and data.  When Rahmstorf is faced with old data and new data from the same authors, he has a special method for deciding which data set is better.  The version that points to higher sea level rise in the 21st century is always considered to be better.  Thus his insistence that the 2006 Chuch and White sea level data is  better than the 2009 or 2011 Church and White data that incorporated Church’s and White’s data reduction improvements.

The same is true for Holgate’s sea level data.  Look at HW04 [3] plots in the above graphs.  This Holgate sea level data covers the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s.  It is a curious thing (not really curious if you understand Rahmstorf’s modus operandi) that R2011 chose this data over Holgate’s updated data from 2007 [4], which covers the entire 20th century.  What would happen if we replaced the HW04 data with the 2007 Holgate data (H07)?  Take a look…

Holgate data from 2004 has been replaces with Holgates updated data from 2007.
Holgate data from 2004 has been replaces with Holgates updated data from 2007.

Let me stress again, I do not recommend extrapolating sea level data with quadratic fit, and I am not endorsing any of the extrapolations shown above.  I am simply guffawing at Rahmstorf’s chuzpa in his figure 1.

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1.  Rahmstorf, S., Perrette, M., and Vermeer, M., “Testing the robustness of semi-empirical sea level projections” Climate Dynamics, 2011

2. Church, J. A.,, and White,  N. J., “A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise,” Geophysical Research Letters, 33, 2006

3. Holgate, S. J., Woodworth, P.L., “Evidence for enhanced coastal sea level rise during the 1990s,” Geophysical Research Letters, 31, 2004

4. Holgate S., “On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century,” Geophysical Research Letters, 34, 2007
……..

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