Sea level data set to music. Yeah, that’s right.

January 29, 2012

Vermeer’s and Rahmstorf’s “Global sea level linked to global temperature” (PNAS, 2009) relied on Church’s and White’s “A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise” (GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 33,) for their sea level data.  Church and White built their sea level time series from the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) tide gauge data.

The following video shows all the PSMSL tide gauge data so you can search for a sea level rise acceleration.  Or you can dance or sing along!

There is no attempt to analyse the data here, but I have started that process and will report on it later.  The first two minutes may be a little boring, but please read along.  It livens up later.   For now, sit back and enjoy.

Update, 3/11/12: My original videos have been banned by Youtube for violating music licenses.  They contained music by REM (The End of the World As We Know It), Johnny Cash (How High’s the Water, Mama) and James Taylor (the traditional “The Water is Wide”). 

I have replaced the music with Creative Commons licensed music.



  1. Impressive! Good work.

  2. So the sea level has been predicted to rise, but it fell by a significantly higher amount than any predicted annual rise. The data show sea level not changing in some locations, falling steadily in others, and rising in yet others. All of the data is limited to the last 100 years out of the billions scientists believe the earth has existed. No possibility of another future than the one predicted?

    • Daniel,

      thanks for your comment. Can you please elaborate on “No possibility of another future than the one predicted?” I think you are implying that I am making a prediction, but I am not.

      Best Regards,
      Tom Moriarty

    • Actually, some tide gauge records go back much more than 100 years. The record from the gauge at Brest, France goes back more than 200 years.

      Some of those old records show a modest increase in rate of sea-level rise coincident with the end of the little ice age, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but there’s been no increase since the late 1920s.

      The key thing to realize and memorize is that there’s been no increase in the rate of sea-level rise since the late 1920s, even though mankind has been driving up greenhouse gas levels (CO2 etc.) dramatically since the 1940s. Two-thirds of a century of heavy anthropogenic GHG emissions have had no detectable effect on the rate of sea-level rise.

      Yet, despite the fact that the last 2/3 century of heavy anthropogenic GHG emissions have minimal, if any, effect on sea-level rise, climate campaigners like Stefan Rahmstorf claim that the next 2/3 century of anthropogenic GHG emissions will cause sea-level rise to increase to more than 10x its current rate.

      That unscientific hype is good for Rahmstorf’s fat cat clients at Munich Re, but very bad for the people whose pockets they’re emptying, and for everyone else.

      “It turns out that Rahmstorf has pulled an elaborate practical joke on the Community…” -Steve McIntyre

  3. […] Sanity « Sea level data set to music. Yeah, that’s right. Pop Quiz! February 11, […]

  4. A nit: That’s actually the NOAA list of tide stations, which is a subset of the entire PSMSL database.

    Fantastic work, nevertheless.

  5. Sea-level rise will displace hundreds of millions of people in the next 100 years if nothing is done to stop global warming. A very ambitious and action-oriented proposal is offered at http://dolphinblueinc.wordpress.com/2009/09/23/proposed-effort-to-slow-melting-of-glacier-in-antarctica/ for how melting of ice in Antarctica could be slowed. The solution would be extraordinarily costly, but the costs would be smaller than the price of inaction. See w.dolphinblue.com/pg-Update–Energy-Island-a-Solution-to-Global-Warming.html for an update on the feasibility of the solution. If every nation in the world would accept global warming as an existential threat, solutions could be implemented that are commensurate with the threat. A budget of $2 trillion per year (approximately what is spent on wars and military preparedness) would do the job.

    • Mr Manaugh, the author of the above comment, has a scheme to cool Antarctic glaciers before they break up and melt at the ocean. He would use a bunch of forms of renewable energy floating on platforms out in the ocean to refrigerate the bottoms of glaciers where they float on the ocean, thus saving the world from sea level rise.

      I guess Mr. Manaugh didn’t actually watch the video.

      I have broken his second link, because is leads to the DolphinBlue website for buying environmentally friendly business cards and other office supplies rather than “an update on the feasibility of the solution.”


  6. Tom, good luck with the PSMSL data. I tried. What I’ve found is that the coverage and continuity isn’t sufficient to give us a global sea level. I never got around to looking at the monthly data, only annual, but it’s horrible. One thing I did notice, many recent tidal gauges show little increase or decrease of sea level had been discontinued.

    You can go here and see the gauges that were discontinued and their combined sea levels graphed, about the middle of the page…….. http://suyts.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/a-look-back/

  7. Crud. Somebody filed a copyright complaint, and your video is no longer viewable in the USA. 😦

  8. Nice video!

    One thing that bothers me about this topic, not your video, is the fact that the level of the ocean at a point on land can rise or fall independently of the volume of the ocean, but this fact is never discussed. We are being lead to assume that the change in sea level is all related to *volume* and that the volume is changing from melting ice. Every time I have looked into an alarmist highlighted bit of coastline that is being buried because of sea level rise, it is invariably a spot where the land is sinking.

    Can you provide more information about the data? Is it raw tide gauge readings? I am lead to believe by your video that it is. In that case I think, although you might disagree, that a disclaimer mentioning everything that effects the relative height of the ocean might be a useful addition to the video.

    • JohnnyCrash,

      Your point is well taken. The sea level rise at any location is combination of local effects and global effects. You may have noticed in the video that the sea level was actually dropping in many locations. That is why at the beginning of the video I urged the viewer to look for an “acceleration,” which is the important question.

      The primary local effects are glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) and subsidence. GIA causes the sea level to rise more slowly, or even drop, closer to the poles where the land is still rising after shedding the weight of the huge ice sheets after the ice age. Subsidence is the sinking of the land (perhaps due to excessive ground water extraction). Areas on the southern coast of the US often have very high sea level rise rates due to subsidence.

      So, it seems to me that it is easier too determine an acceleration than to determine the portion of the rise rate that is due to increasing water volume. The is the point of my series Search for acceleration . It is the acceleration that matters in the discussion of global warming.

      You can see all the details about the sea level rise data at the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level.

      Thank you for the comment.


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