Shock: Sea level rises far less than forecast

On Thursday we reported that the NSW government was basing planning decisions on a 40cm rise in sea level by 2050. Today in The Australian we see that the actual sea level rises around Australia are far less than expected [Really? There’s a surprise – Ed].

SEA levels on Australia’s eastern seaboard are rising at less than a third of the rate that the NSW government is predicting as it overhauls the state’s planning laws and bans thousands of landowners from developing coastal sites.

The Rees government this week warned that coastal waters would rise 40cm on 1990 levels by 2050, with potentially disastrous effects.

Even yesterday Kevin Rudd warned in a speech to the Lowy Institute that 700,000 homes and businesses, valued at up to $150 billion, were at risk from the surging tide.

However, if current sea-level rises continue, it would not be until about 2200 – another 191 years – before the east coast experienced the kind of increases that have been flagged.

According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Tidal Centre, issued in June, there has been an average yearly increase of 1.9mm in the combined net rate of relative sea level at Port Kembla, south of Sydney, since the station was installed in 1991.

But, but, but… our models, our models!! They can’t be wrong, can they? So the CSIRO goes into full damage control mode with a list of excuses for why it really is rising in accordance with the models, namely:

  • Effect of barometric pressure [can’t quite understand that one, since pressure varies between roughly the same extremes]
  • Australia was rising slightly, counteracting the effect of sea-level rises [well that’s OK then, isn’t it?]
  • “Extreme” sea level rises were happening “more often” [dodgy]
  • Wind stress patterns in the Pacific [scraping the barrel now]
  • Polar ice caps will cause sea levels to rise faster [really desperate…]

And my favourite of all:

“There is a clear acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise,” Dr Church said.

Where? Here’s the graph. Point out the clear acceleration:

Rapid acceleration of sea level rise… no, wait…

Rapid acceleration of sea level rise… no, wait…

Read it here.


  1. I think you are being a little harsh on what is now laughingly referred to as the CSIRO.
    Consider this — back in the days when the CSIRO was a respected scientific body (rather than the laughing-stock of a government propaganda apparatchik that it has become today), it’s name derived from the acronym for its original name:
    the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
    Since it is now a highly political body and has abandoned any pretence at being a scientific one (censoring and stifling debate), we can scratch the ‘Scientific’ from their title (or alternatively change it to ‘Junk Science’).
    Also, since it long ago got out of Industrial Research in favour of manufacturing ‘data’ to support their government-funded gravy train, we can scratch the ‘Industrial Research’ from their title as well.
    So – what are we left with: they are just another Commonwealth Organisation Too. (or – shortened – CO2).
    What you see is what you get – it’s all there in their name.

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