Watt about the sea level rise?

I keep thinking that I should maybe take a break and write fewer posts. Then I make the mistake of having one final look at Watts Up With That (WUWT). Today they have a guest essay by Kevin Marshall called NOAA exaggerates 2012 Greenland ice-mass loss by 10x.

The post includes the figure below which is from the NOAA Arctic report card.

Greenland mass changes from GRACE.

Greenland mass changes from GRACE.

So, what does the WUWT post actually say? It says,

A graph on NOAA’s 2012 “Greenland Ice Sheet” report uses a 2006 modelled projected ice melt for 2012 that is over ten times that in the latest published paper and equivalent to 250% of the long-term sea-level rise of 3.2mm per annum.

I take this to mean that the author of this post is assuming that the right-hand axis of the above graph is the sea-level rise per year. The author of the post is assuming that this figure is claiming that Greenland ice sheets have contributed to an increase in sea-level in 2012 of 8mm. This is 10x greater than that suggested in other papers and 250% greater than the long-term trend of 3.2mm per year. Shall we see what the actual report says about this graph? It says.

The data show that the ice sheet continues to lose mass and has contributed +8.0 mm to globally-averaged sea level rise since 2002.

The right-hand axis is not the annual rise, it is the total change since 2002. In other words, since 2002, the Greenland ice sheet has contributed – on average – 0.8mm per year to the sea-level rise, well below the annual trend and consistent with the suggestions from other papers. Maybe this is simply a silly mistake that will be corrected in due course. I wait with bated breath. I will say, however, that often when you think a group of well-qualified, experienced scientists have made some kind of mistake, the best course of action is often to take a step back and consider if it isn’t you who has made the mistake.

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11 Responses to Watt about the sea level rise?

  1. In fairness, many of those posting comments have already pointed out the error, so it may well simply be a silly mistake that will be corrected shortly.

  2. “I will say, however, that often when you think a group of well-qualified, experienced scientists have made some kind of mistake, the best course of action is often to take a step back and consider if it isn’t you who has made the mistake.”

    Honestly that would eliminate most of the posts on WUWT.

  3. daddyjames says:

    I was the one of those that pointed out the error.

    In all fairness, the title is completely erroneous. If you are going to make a statement like that – you should doubly make sure that the calculations are correct.

  4. I love the way you hold these guys to account for their shenanigans. Great illustration of the misinformation.

  5. I notice that Anthony has added a comment at the top of the post highlighting the power of peer-review on WUWT. I do agree, however, that if you’re going to make the statement that the headline makes, you should – ideally – check that you haven’t misunderstood the paper about which you’re commenting.

  6. Fragmeister says:

    The idea of public peer review, as Anthony wants it, only works if the errors are admitted and corrected. So often on WUWT it isn’t. In fact, the error is usually fought for and those pointing out the errors get vilified.

  7. Indeed. It’s posts like this one that really do make me wonder if I’m just completely wasting my time. It really should be obvious to anyone with even a remote amount of science training that most of what is written on WUWT is complete nonsense. I did, however, read a comment on another blog yesterday written by someone with a theoretical physics degree claiming that they have yet to be convinced by the current scientific evidence and regularly read WUWT.

  8. Indeed and didn’t they just have a long post about banning peer-review 🙂

  9. Fragmeister says:

    From the Submit a story link of WUWT:

    “6. All submissions are reviewed. Generally 10% or less are accepted, so do your best! We give credit to the story submitter, and bonus points are given for people who post under their full names. Stories submitted may or may not be published at the discretion of the editorial stuff. Those that are published may be edited for size, accuracy, content etc. and become to property of WUWT.”

    If this is the quality of the 10%, I hate to think what the other 90% are like. Not a good week’s worth of examples for the reviewing process by Anthony and his gang. My guess is that the above is just not true. The Ban Peer Review post this week was so awful it could hardly have been touched by any review process.

  10. Lars Karlsson says:

    Fragmeister: “The Ban Peer Review post this week was so awful it could hardly have been touched by any review process.”

    I beg to disagree. It could have been touched by an awful review process.

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