A closer look at the fake sea level data

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

On Saturday I had posted a link to a very detailed article that strongly suggested that the alterations to the sea level rise data that scientists at the Colorado Sea Level Research Group were doing were either fraudalent or very very poorly thought out. One of the regular readers of Behind the Black, Edward, posted such a detailed and well-researched analysis of this story that I thought it worthwhile to promote it to the main page. Edward has given me permission to do so and so here it is:

It is reasonable for us to consider the possibility that a fraud is being perpetrated upon us.

1) Explaining data and the differences between the data taken and the data used is basic science; more basic than Science 101, it is middle school science. It is the first thing taught about data reporting in the first science class in which a student is required to collect data. Thus for the Colorado Sea Level Research Group at the University of Colorado to ignore the data discrepancy is a violation of basic science.

2) They should have noticed the discrepancy in the data between their own reports. It is their business, after all. Both graphs list TOPEX satellite data as their source for the 1993 to 2002 portions of the plots, but it is obvious by inspection that the data points are different between the two reports. First, the 60-day smoothed lines are greatly different. Second, differences between the data points on the two graphs are clearly different near the 1998 mark and the 2001 mark, where high level readings are not as high or are fewer in number. Even the Jason-1 data can be seen as different near the 2003 mark, demonstrating that the Jason-1 datasets are also suspect. One or more of each satellite’s dataset is not the original data.

The 2015 report should explain or reference an explanation as to why these datasets are different from their prior report(s). If this is not done, they are either poor scientists or could be suspect of intentionally hiding something. This does not seem to be on their FAQ list or their links page or even the AVISO page (the TOPEX data-source site) It looks like it is AVISO that has made the adjustments without explanation, but the University of Colorado does not seem to have noticed or does not seem to care.

3) The University of Colorado changed their data-presentation method between the two years, using different colors. This is suspicious. Not only does it make noticing the discrepancy harder, it obfuscates everything about the data. To make matters worse, the more recent map has a narrower range (-10 to +10mm) than the 2014 map (-15 to +15mm), and the 2014 map shows a few locations that exceed +12mm, which is well beyond the range in the reportedly worse situation of the 2015 map.

4) It is obvious that the satellite datasets are being tampered with, and it is further obvious that the University of Colorado is drawing conclusions based upon their altered datasets without discussing these alterations and how they might affect the accuracy of their conclusions. The faking of data (changing without notice or explanation) is the very definition of fudged data: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fudging “v.tr.1. To fake or falsify: fudge casualty figures”

5) If we cannot trust the satellite data, then what can we trust in the science of climatology? It seems that it is not only NOAA but foreign science organizations are also modifying their data without announcement or explanation – two violations of established methods of science. Put together, these appear to be actions of fudging data, and it appears that the University of Colorado is comfortable using such apparently fudged data.
I just want to add a link to another article providing further evidence that this sea level data is not trustworthy.


  • Phill O

    Interesting read! This data seems to have a cooling trend running in parallel to the sun spot cycle decrease note for the last two solar maxima. Note that the northern polar cap, weather gaining or lessening, has no affect on the means sea level (with the exclusion of the Greenland and Baffin islands snow, since the cap is floating on the sea. Now Antarctica suddenly melted, there would be a slight (only slight) rise in mean sea level. This due to the vast size of the oceans compared to the size of the southern ice cap.

    One thing we know for certain: the terrestrial eco system is very complex. With new technology, we are only starting to understand the system. To fully understand how various parameters interact, takes time and scientists with a very broad understanding of physics, chemistry, oceanography, environment and this list goes on. One problem with the current education system is students are compelled to look at just one very small part (in depth) and do not get the exposure to other disciplines. Physics and chemistry are avoided due to a reputation of being very difficult. This is not good for gaining an understanding of such a complex system as the Solar system. I was talking to a retired biology prof (from Britain) who indicated he had no knowledge of physics, particularly the laws of thermodynamics. This is not good as some of the conclusions biologists come to violate the second law.

    The other major problem in interpretation of findings is related to having a baseline or reference point for comparison. When new technology arrives, right now conclusions are made without a baseline. The ozone scam is a case in point.

    The final problems involves politics. Elected officials bend to those supporting their monetary agendas. Often, their attacks on some industries is a mask for extortion.

  • ed kaim


  • Cotour

    “Part of the solution to this problem or this set of problems associated with climate change is getting the deniers out of our discourse. ”


    “Their” discourse needs no other participants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *