SCIENCE of
CLIMATE CHANGE

International Journal of Science and Philosophy

A comment on sea level in the IPCC climate report

Abstract

When meteorologists with today’s great computing power can only predict the weather with some degree of certainty about 3 days into the future, how can we then expect climate scientists to predict the climate 100 years into the future?

We have considered a single tide gauge at the Norwegian coast, Tregde. It has been chosen because the change in sea level is zero in relation to a fixed point in the rock at the tide gauge. During the almost 100 years the tide gauge has been in operation, it does not at any time show a significant change in sea level.

Although the IPCC reports say that there may be local differences in the sea level change around the earth, we find that zero change at the random Norwegian station, cannot be covered under “local differences”. A relevant question is whether climate scientists’ models really manage to capture the complexity of Nature.

$10

A comment on sea level in the IPCC climate report

Description

Authors

  • Bjørn Geirr Harsson and George Preiss, former geodesists at The Norwegian Mapping Authority

Abstract

When meteorologists with today’s great computing power can only predict the weather with some degree of certainty about 3 days into the future, how can we then expect climate scientists to predict the climate 100 years into the future?

We have considered a single tide gauge at the Norwegian coast, Tregde. It has been chosen because the change in sea level is zero in relation to a fixed point in the rock at the tide gauge. During the almost 100 years the tide gauge has been in operation, it does not at any time show a significant change in sea level.

Although the IPCC reports say that there may be local differences in the sea level change around the earth, we find that zero change at the random Norwegian station, cannot be covered under “local differences”. A relevant question is whether climate scientists’ models really manage to capture the complexity of Nature.

The theoretical models for sea level change

In September 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report, which largely addresses the future theoretical changes in sea levels. A quick reading shows that the roughly 1100 pages span a large number of possible scenarios, from sea level rising by about 1 metre to only a few decimetres over the next 100 years. Indeed, one of the figures in the report claims to predict something about sea level rise as far ahead as 300 years into the future.

One is consequently tempted to ask some critical questions. Meteorologists – with their best models of the atmosphere, with their mathematical formulas developed over 100 years and with the largest and most modern computers available – seem unable to predict the weather with some certainty more than a week into the future. That being so, how can we then accept that climate researchers operate with models that enable them to say something about climate and sea level changes 20, 50 or even 300 years into the future? Are climate scientists’ models really that good?

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