South Florida’s Rising Seas

January 16, 2014

Worth watching.

Climate change, and resultant sea level rise, are becoming impossible to ignore in South Florida, one of the world’s most vulnerable urban areas.  This documentary by South Florida Public Media depicts very matter of factly the hard facts of sea level rise, from the point of view of those whose job it is to keep up with the changes, and clean up the ever messier effects.

You can watch the whole thing at the SFPM website.
Meet back here to discuss.

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182 Responses to “South Florida’s Rising Seas”

  1. daveburton Says:

    This is complete insanity. The best sea-level measurements in S. Florida are the 100-year record from the GLOSS-LTT tide gauge at Key West. Sea level is rising there at only 2.3 mm/year, which will amount to less than 8 inches by the end of the century. There’s been no acceleration in sea-level rise at Key West in the last 90 years.

    The notion that man-made greenhouse gas emissions will cause wildly accelerated sea-level rise is unscientific nonsense. Mankind has been driving up greenhouse gas levels substantially for about 2/3 century, yet the globally averaged rate of sea-level rise has not increased at all in that time, and there’s no reason to expect that it will suddenly begin doing so in this century.

    Sea-level is, indeed, rising along the east coast of the United States, but it is not driven by man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and it is not accelerating.

    You can find much more information on my web site:

    • dumboldguy Says:

      First, everyone should note that there are now 1428 “amazing” Crockers. Are we entering a period of exponential growth for Crock? Tipping point, perhaps? Congratulations, Peter! (and that’s a new high even after the “fortuitous disappearance” of certain folks, or we’d be at 1430+)

      I watched this great documentary in its entirety, and even backed up a couple of times. It is certainly “worth watching” on many levels. As I watched it, I couldn’t help but wonder what daveburton’s reaction would be. It is now here, the only comment so far, and it’s a beauty.

      Dave stands on the bow of a fast moving vessel headed into the gale force winds of sanity and evidence that all of South Florida is acutely aware of and concerned about AGW and climate change. and what does he do? Does he look around and pay attention? No, he (vulgarity) into the wind with his usual “complete insanity”, as he would put it.

      Frankly, I don’t think he even watched the video. What he says here looks like a sampling of the horsepucky that he picks out of his “Manual for Trolls and Deniers”, just the usual cherry picked stuff that comes from that cesspool of ignorance he calls “his website”.

      I hope that no one bothers to take the time to refute any of his “sea level rise is not accelerating” and “sea level rise is not driven by greenhouse gas emissions”. Please DNFTT. He has earned his denier paycheck with this one comment, and we don’t need to help him get “bonus points”.

      (Actually, Peter, I think the best thing that could happen here is a “fortuitous disappearance”. Dave has continued to abuse your hospitality, disrespect the intelligence of all other Crockers, and do damage to the integrity of the site. Ban him—or at least send him on an extended vacation).

    • climatebob Says:

      Dave. Florida is going under water. You know it, the governor knows it and all the officials know it. They just need time it unload their beach front real estate. Sell the house while it still has some value, buy on high ground and rent until the lawn floods.

    • You do know that 1 inch rise can be as much as 500 feet inland on some beaches?

  2. jpcowdrey Says:

    dave, you are wrong. There has been acceleration in sea level rise at Key west, as can be determined from your own source if one digs a little deeper.

    Given your profound reverence for truth, I trust your admission that you are wrong to be prompt and effusive.

    • daveburton Says:

      No, jpcowdrew, there’s been no statistically significant acceleration at Key West. The tiny up-ticks and down-ticks are just “noise” on a very linear trend.

      Miami Beach has a pretty good tide gauge record, too, though shorter than Key West’s. It shows pretty much the same thing: 2.4 mm/year SLR (rather than 2.3), and no acceleration in 80 years (rather than 90):

    • dumboldguy Says:

      You asked for a “prompt and effusive” retraction from Dave, jpc? LOL

      As you can see, you got “prompt and effusive” horsepucky, and even what appears to be a gratuitous insult from Dave as well—-“jpoodrew”?. Dave is NOT yet ready to run with the big dogs in the “insult world”. Is he taking a page from E-Pot’s NPD book and puffing himself up here?

      It looks like Dave is ready to start a sea-level “gallop” on us, since the overpowering truths in this documentary threaten his little world of delusion and denial Please DNFTT.

      • daveburton Says:

        Old Guy, why are you bashing NOAA as “horsepucky?” They’re on your side, remember? (Their data certainly doesn’t support you, though.)

        jpcowdrey, I apologize for mistyping your handle. No insult was intended.

        • jpcowdrey Says:

          No offense taken.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          I’m not bashing NOAA, I’m bashing your misuse of their data. Many others have pointed that out to you, if you recall—-and you have “galloped” for days on it.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          PS Just looked at the positions of the “W”, “O”, and “Y” on my keyboard. IMO, it would be rather difficult to “mistype” jpcowdrey as jpoodrew. Methinks Dave dissembles. It’s OK if you’re trying to be a “Mini-E-Pot”, Dave—every boy needs his heroes.

          • daveburton Says:

            When it comes to making typographical errors, I am especially gifted, Old Guy. But I did not mistype jpcowdrey as jpoodrew. I mistyped jpcowdrey as jpcowdrew, and then you misread or mistyped jpcowdrey as jpoodrew.

            I forgive you. Will you forgive me?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I cleaned my reading glasses (that also need to be “up-powered” soon) and got close to the screen, and sure enough, that’s a “c” and not an “o”, so I was mistaken with the “poo”. Me culpa!

            Thank you for your forgiveness, Dave, that’s so “Christian” of you. Perhaps you might want to show more of that “Christianity” by paying better attention to the biblical injunction to not bear false witness? (against AGW)

  3. jpcowdrey Says:


    You apparently missed the fact that the 95% error bars for the last 50 year period stand proud of the linear rate increase. Unassailable evidence that the acceleration in the last 50 years is statistically significant.

    I have a small problem with you using a tide gauge in Miami that has zero data for the last 50 years to argue there hasn’t been any acceleration in the last 80 years. To quote someone in a comment above, “This is complete insanity”.

    So much for your reverence for truth.

    Thanks for playing.

    • daveburton Says:

      jpcowdrey, I can see why it would be confusing to you, since those black “95% error bars” are drawn on the same graph with the instantaneous sea levels. But they are not error bars for instantaneous sea level, as you can see, since instantaneous sea-level is usually outside the lines (above or below with equal frequency).

      I believe those lines are intended to depict error bars on the smoothed rate of sea-level change, rather than on instantaneous sea-level.

    • daveburton Says:

      Re: Miami, it’s in the last ~33, not 50. Anyhow, I’ve posted another comment with links to more Florida tide gauge measurements, which include up-to-date data. But it’s in moderation at the moment, because it has too many links.

  4. jpcowdrey Says:

    dave, it isn’t NOAA’s data that is “horsepucky”, but your inability to arrive at rational conclusions from that data.


    • daveburton Says:

      It is impossible for anyone with eyes to see and a mind capable of understanding graphs to look at NOAA’s tide-gauge data and reach any conclusion except that sea-level rise has not, thus far, accelerated in response to anthropogenic GHG emissions.

      Unfortunately, many people on the Left do not view science as an engine of discovery. Rather, to them, science is a tool to be suppressed or cherry-picked or twisted as necessary to make it useful as propaganda. Thus, for example, we have the IPCC declaring that their “final” draft of the AR5 WG1 Report isn’t really final after all, but the Summary for Policy Makers is final, and the “underlying chapters” may need to be revised for consistency with the SPM.

      The SPM is the political statement. The “underlying chapters” are (supposedly) the science. So they’re saying that they may still need to revise the science to make it consistent with the political statement.

      It must be frustrating to be a scientist on the Left. Sometimes that darn data is so frustratingly stubborn, it is hard to twist it into conformity with the Party Line.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Substitute “right” for “left” in that pile of horsepucky and some of us might agree with you. Actually 98% of us might, about the same percentage of climate scientists that think AGW is a serious problem.

        (Any bets on whether Dave will now bring up the Oregon Petition and make himself look foolish by talking about “all them ENGINEERS?)

  5. dumboldguy Says:

    I am finally getting to “meet back here and discuss”, and comment directly on this post (Dave does get in the way of serious discussion).

    This documentary stands by itself. An excellent look at the many problems sea level rise is causing in South Florida, a look at the many entities and people who are trying to deal with it, and a general “whistling past the graveyard” by most of them.

    I think the fishing captain is the most honest person there—-he says “It’s happening, I see it, it’s only a question of time until we must abandon Miami, and we need to do what we can at the lowest cost to maintain our presence here for as long as we can”.

    Many others give subtle clues about what they may see as the futility of the effort. The woman who manages the canals basically says “You can’t pump water uphill forever”. The man who talked about “needing to replace pumps in 20 years with bigger pumps that will work for another 20 years” blew my mind. If I’m not mistaken, he was taking about pumping nasty tidal overflow water DOWN into the ground—does he even talk to the gentleman who is concerned about maintaining the integrity of the aquifer so that it can v=be used to supply drinking water?

    On the one hand, the documentary is inspiring, in that the problem has been recognized and is being fairly strongly addressed LOCALLY. The sad thing is that South Florida is one of the 2 or 3 most vulnerable areas in the country and is doomed. We need to do something about the global problem to help them.

  6. climatebob Says:

    Talking about Florida sea level gauges and trying to prove that there will be no sea level rise is pointless. NASA say that World wide is is 3.16 mm a year and increasing. .Up to now most of the melting ice has been in the sea and has barely added to sea level rise but we only need one meter and the economic consequences are huge. Try this website . Set the gauge to one meter and look at the land between Fort Lauderdale and Bell Glade.

    • daveburton Says:

      That’s from JPL, which doesn’t exactly have the highest standards for scientific rigor. Example:

      Globally averaged sea level rise is nowhere near 3.16 mm/year. That’s an out-of-date satellite altimetry number, inflated by hypothetical GIA adjustment. The latest composite satellite altimetry number is just 2.76 mm/year.

      Besides that, the satellite altimetry numbers for sea-level rise in the open ocean are very unreliable. The best coastal tide gauges are far more trustworthy — and more relevant, too, since sea-level rise only matters at the coasts.

      And guess what? Averaged coastal tide gauge measurements are showing less than 1.5 mm/year of sea-level rise, with no sign of acceleration in more than 80 years. (It’s more than that on the U.S. Atlantic coast, due to land subsidence, which has nothing to do with climate.)

      If you add model-derived GIA adjustments you can inflate the rate of rise to more than 1.5 mm/year, but the result isn’t really “sea level” rise, and it’s still less than 2 mm/year.

  7. Greg Wellman Says:


    “The most widely used projection is the Army Corps of Engineers’, which sees a three- to seven-inch rise in South Florida by 2030, and from nine to 24 inches by 2060. Those numbers are accepted by the four-county Southeast Florida Compact.”

    So, either an institutionally conservative organization like the Corps is irresponsibly spreading panic, or acceleration in sea level rise is understood and uncontroversial amongst those most directly tasked with building coastal infrastructure.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      And just think. The Army corps of Engineers and the Southeast Florida Compact are all mistaken, just as is the Miami Herald. What fools!

      Is there ANYONE besides daveburton that will speak truth to them and disabuse them of all their faulty thinking?

      • daveburton Says:

        You mean like their own James R. Houston?

        Houston J R and Dean R G (2011a). Sea-Level Acceleration Based on U.S. Tide Gauges and Extensions of Previous Global-Gauge Analyses. Journal of Coastal Research. 27:409-417.

        • Interesting you mention Houston. I think everything on this thread has been discussed for years here and elsewhere. There is a better discussion on skeptical science with a more well informed denier than Dave. Oh, in case you don’t have time to watch the entire bout, the denier was flailing like the Monty Python black knight after round one. For more depth, Houston is seriously flawed because it only uses tide gauges from 57 US tide gauges. Remember what I said about trolls that can’t figure out what global means? Dave’s favorite. The world according to Dave. If Dave ain’t hot, the world ain’t hot. It all begins and ends in North Carolina where they have repealed sea level rise. I think one of Peter’s videos says climate deniers come lightly armed. That’s putting it mildly.

          • daveburton Says:

            Christopher wrote, “Houston is seriously flawed because it only uses tide gauges from 57 US tide gauges.”

            Good grief. Maybe you ought to actually read their papers — or at least the abstracts! — before you comment on them. For analysis of the U.S. sea-level record they used the 57 best available U.S. tide gauge records, but they also examined several different global sets of tide gauges, extending earlier analyses of other researchers with updated data.

          • Um, Dave, I did read the paper. I invite anyone to read the paper and see. Houston mentions other data, but the data they studied and analyzed for their report is 57 US tide gauges exactly as stated. The first sentence Conclusions is
            “Our analyses do not indicate acceleration in sea level US tide gauge..”.
            The whole sea level rise acceleration nonsense you expound is thoroughly debunked on Skeptical Science, along with the whole Houston paper.
            There are a plurality of errors in Houston.

          • daveburton Says:

            If you’d read the paper, Christopher, you’d know that your accusation, that their analysis “only uses tide gauges from 57 US tide gauges” is false.

            If you think they’re wrong, then why don’t you analyze the tide-gauge data yourself, and see what you find (like I did).

            The fact is that there’s been no acceleration in globally averaged sea-level rise in more than 80 years, a span of time which encompasses nearly all of the anthropogenic surge in GHG levels. That means anthropogenic GHGs have not, thus far, caused any detectable increase in the rate of sea-level rise.

  8. Greg – Love the final quote.
    “You know, about a third of America … doesn’t believe [in] climate change. That’s a sure market to sell to.”

  9. Lost in the infamous sea ice wrap up, this comment,
    For some sanity on sea level rise
    Note the last few decades is 3.2mm/year.
    Earlier century was 2.5 mm/year, clearly an acceleration. Climatecrocks videos from real experts go back along way. This is conclusive evidence that sea level rise is a unique phenomena for at least a millennia. Roman fish tank builders foresaw climate deniers need for truth.

    • daveburton Says:

      Look closer: that “last few decades” is just the last 20 years, and it’s satellite altimetry data, only. What’s more, CSIRO cherry-picked their satellites, to maximize the reported rise and minimize the reported deceleration, and they added GIA to inflate the number. If you don’t pull those tricks, the number is smaller and the deceleration is more obvious.

      Coastal sea-level rise is running, on average, at less than 1.5 mm/year. People who want to make it sound scary add model-derived GIA to inflate it by accounting for an hypothetical sinking of the ocean floor, but the result of that addition isn’t truly “sea level” because sea level is supposed to be the level of the surface of the sea.

  10. Do we need to remind that a single tide gauge or even all the tide gauges on the planet are not global sea level? As soon as you watch the last video, you may realize how many factors affect shoreline sea level. Most interesting is how polar melt will cause rise near the poles due to the gravitational effect of ice on Greenland and Antarctic.

    • daveburton Says:

      Tide gauges measure sea-level at the coasts, which is where it matters, as opposed to in the open ocean, where it doesn’t matter.

      Consider thermal expansion. You’d be amazed at how many people think that if thermal expansion occurs in the open ocean, the water will run downhill and affect sea-level at the coasts. When I explain that it doesn’t work that way, they often simply refuse to believe it.

      Although thermal expansion does cause satellite-measured mid-ocean sea level to rise, it does not necessarily cause coastal sea level to rise. If deep-ocean water were to expand, it would, indeed, affect coastal sea levels. But nearly all warming occurs near the surface, and when surface water warms, it rises in place, like ice, and its displacement is unaffected, so it does not affect coastal sea levels.

      If you don’t believe me, consider the effect of the seasons on the coastlines.

      Have you noticed the beaches widening in winter as the cooling & shrinking water retreats out to sea? Have you seen the shorelines retreating in summer, as the warming & expanding water advances up the beaches? Of course you haven’t, because that does not happen.

      • Yes. You would be surprised that a lot of people still think water runs downhill. Dave, you are just too much. There are papers all over the place discussing tide gauge annual, seasonal cycles. Yes, even at tide gauges on coasts which is all that matters to you. Yet, because your eyes don’t see any off the coast of North Carolina, they must not exist. Feast your eyes on this paper. If your denier eyes can’t stand the glare of truth, wear sunglasses, but not too dark. Let some sun, truth, shine in.

        • daveburton Says:

          I wrote, “Consider thermal expansion. You’d be amazed at how many people think that if thermal expansion occurs in the open ocean, the water will run downhill and affect sea-level at the coasts. When I explain that it doesn’t work that way, they often simply refuse to believe it.”

          Christopher replied, “You would be surprised that a lot of people still think water runs downhill. Dave, you are just too much.”

          Christopher, you need to understand that gravity balances mass, not volume.

          That’s why icebergs protrude above the water-line. When water’s density goes down, because it freezes or because it warms, its volume goes up, but its displacement does not change. So no net lateral flows result, and sea-level elsewhere is unaffected.

          To understand how density changes in the upper ocean affect sea-level, remember Archimedes’ Principle. The reason that an iceberg sticks up out of the ocean is that it has lower density than the liquid water in which it floats. The amount of water that it displaces depends only on its mass, not on its density or shape. The top surface of an iceberg is simply a locally elevated sea level!)

          We’re talking about basic physics, and I was a physics major before I was seduced by the dark side, which is probably why this this seems so obvious to me.

          If it is confusing to you, I think you might find it instructive to work through Chapter 11 (“Fluids”) here:

          Or, just find a physicist that you trust, print print out this comment and the photo of “locally elevated sea level,” and ask him or her t to explain it to you.

          (As for Tamino, he strictly censors his blog to prevent correction of his errors. That’s why its such a comfy, affirming place for his echo chamber — and why you can’t trust what you read there. If you want to actually learn things that are true, and things you don’t already know, you need to to go elsewhere.)

          • Dave. Just admit you screwed up. Don’t sidestep. You stated there is no annual tide level variation, I showed proof, you evaded. That’s all. You forget your mistakes. I don’t.

          • That should be tide gauge, not tide. Meaning tide gauge data, that is.

          • Dave, have you reread my question to see where you did not answer it?

          • daveburton Says:

            Christopher, I didn’t screw up; you misrepresented what I said, apparently to obscure that fact that you didn’t understand it. The fact that you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it is wrong.

            Surely there must a be a university somewhere near you. PLEASE take this to a competent physics professor, and ask him to explain it to you.

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