Accelerating Ice Sheet Melt Is Raising Sea Levels, Says New Study Accurately Reported By Wall Street Journal

Sea level rise last century versus the last two decades via Jet Propulsion Lab.

Is it big news that “Rising Sea Level Tied to Faster Melt,” as the Wall Street Journal reported today?

Back in 2011, JPL researchers concluded that polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up, threatening a 1 foot sea level rise by 2050. Last year, the most comprehensive analysis of all observational data found that Greenland ice sheet melt is up nearly five-fold since mid-1990s.

Changes in global sea level due to ice sheet melting since 1992. Credit: NASA via NBC.

But I think it qualifies as news when the Wall Street Journal actually does an original piece on one of the more worrisome threats from global warming — and gets it right.

Indeed the Wall Street Journal reporters and editorial page editors are kind of like Edward Norton and Brad Pitt (respectively) in Fight Club (spoiler alert) raging a schizophrenic war with one another (literally). The WSJ editors set the first rule of global warming fight club — don’t talk about the threat of manmade global warming (see Not The Onion: Wall Street Journal Hits ‘Rock Bottom’ With Inane Op-Ed Urging ‘More Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide’)

The more sane half of the WSJ reported on a new study in Nature Geoscience, whose abstract explains:

… we conclude that most of the change in ocean mass is caused by the melting of polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers. This contribution of ice melt is larger than previous estimates, but agrees with reports of accelerated ice melt in recent years.

Here is how a rogue reporter at the WSJ covered it:

Accelerated melting of polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers was the driving factor behind a rise in the global sea level of 16.8 millimeters, or about two-thirds of an inch, between 2005 and 2011, according to a study published Sunday in Nature Geoscience.

The findings are consistent with observed longer-term trends, but the study encompasses only a few years of observations, limiting its conclusions, scientists said. The study, funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, does resolve long-standing discrepancies that arose from different methods of measuring sea levels.

Scientists want to establish how much of the sea-level change relates to increased melt water, and how much relates to the water expanding as it warms up. Previous calculations indicated that melting might contribute about half of the increase. The latest study concludes that for the period 2005-2011 the contribution was closer to 75%.

“There was an increase in the melting rate in Greenland starting in 2005 and that is probably the underlying story why” a larger quantity of melt water has poured into the oceans in recent years, said Clark R. Wilson, geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin and co-author of the study.

Can’t argue with any of that — unless, of course, you are a denier writing for the WSJ who sees only benefits from more carbon pollution.

By the way, you may have noticed that seas only rose about 2.4 millimeters a year from 2005 to 2011. The study picked an endpoint that corresponds to a dip in sea level rise that NASA explained in late 2011 (see “It Rained So Hard the Oceans Fell“).

The short-term dip certainly drew the attention of the climate science deniers, who said absurd things like “The fact that CO2 levels have been higher in the last 5 years that have the lowest rate of rise than the years with lower CO2 levels is a strong indicator that the claims of CO2 are grossly exaggerated.”

Needless to say, the dramatic rebound in sea level rise has not gotten similar attention. See
Has The Rate Of Sea Level Rise Tripled Since 2011?

Related Post:

  • Wall Street Journal: “More Droughts, Floods, Extreme Weather Expected With Warming Climate”

30 Responses to Accelerating Ice Sheet Melt Is Raising Sea Levels, Says New Study Accurately Reported By Wall Street Journal

  1. prokaryotes says:

    Further consider

    With 300-325 ppm =

    Results show that during the Pleistocene (2.588 million – 11.7 thousand years ago), there were a number of super-interglacials – like the present period but much wetter and several degrees warmer in the Arctic, during which the Greenland and West Antarctic ice-sheets didn’t just melt a bit. They disappeared.

  2. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Other denial stragegies have failed. Now we gare getting to “it’s too late”

  3. Bill Walker says:

    Does the WSJ story actually acknowledge that the ice is melting because temperature is rising, and that temperature is rising due to human emissions? I.e., which stages of denial have they progressed from and to? Let’s review the stages (as I recall them. Let me know if I missed any):

    1) It’s not happening
    2) It’s happening, but it’s not bad.
    3) It’s happening, it’s bad, but it’s not us.
    4) It’s happening, it’s bad, it’s us.

    I think it’s possible that the WSJ has reached stage 3.

  4. Merrelyn Emery says:

    That was probably when large parts of Australia were under the ocean. When we were kids in the desert, we would scratch around in the sand and pull out sea shells, ME

  5. Sasparilla says:

    It probably depends on who you’re talking about at the WSJ. If its the editorial board or their News Corp masters, they’re still probably waffling between 1 & 2 depending on the day and the disaster.

    Its the darn reporters (not editorial writers) that get in the way with facts and stuff in the occasional story.

  6. BobbyL says:

    This is surprising considering who owns the WSJ. And it provides more evidence that making generalizations about the press is difficult. Both the left wing and right wing think the press is controlled by the other side and tend to ignore the complexities of reporting that indicate neither side has complete control into what gets into the news, even when the publications are owned by someone like Rupert Murdoch. Despite all the accusations of about control of the press and all its imperfections the US still appears be have a free press.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    “…the US still appears be have a free press”

    “…more evidence that making generalizations about the press is difficult”


  8. Colorado Bob says:

    Markers set in 1954, when the city suffered its worst flooding in living memory, have disappeared beneath the rising water.

    The German news agency dpa said the water levels were the highest recorded since 1501 in Passau, a city of 50,000 people that dates from before Roman times.

  9. wili says:

    So says the “Rabid Doomsayer” !!?? ‘-)

    Meanwhile, we seem to smashed through the 400ppm average over a new time frame–the weekly average:

    NOAA has done their weekly update, the week off May 26 is officially over 400 ppm. 400.03 to be precise.

    Will this make it to the papers, like the daily record did?

    Also notable is how much higher this was than the same time last year:

    3.6 ppm

    Is this not also a new high in increase per year at the peak?

    Does not bode well for mindless optimism.

    “We’re all Rabid Doomers now.” ??

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You forgot, ‘It’s happening, but it’s just natural variability.’

  11. David Lewis says:

    Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and current Director of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, recently discussed climate change and sea level rise with Susan Leal, author of “Running Out of Water”, on this Bloomberg radio show, A Closer Look with Arthur Levitt: Susan Leal.

    Arthur Levitt: “Well, this water issue obviously has many manifestations. My home in Connecticut has been destroyed two years in a row by terrible storms. I’m keenly aware, living seven feet from the water, of SOMETHING going on out there.”

    Leal and Levitt then discussed the issue of climate change, sea level rise, and what listeners to his show can do to ensure that they make money as events unfold.

    Arthur: “Every time I use the word water in this interview I can’t help but think about my home. If you lived seven feet from the water, either on the East Coast or the West Coast, would you stay there?”

    Susan Leal: “No. And I love the water”.

    Levitt: “That’s sobering”.

    These Wall Street types are going to get to a place where denial is not possible. Levitt still has a way to go, even though his waterfront home has been destroyed twice in two years by the increased frequency of extreme events coupled with rising sea levels both caused by climate change.

    But he is getting there. As is the Wall Street Journal perhaps.

    I really would like to see James Hansen testify against these people for crimes against humanity in a court run by judges appointed by an aroused population enraged at the planet killing denial carried out by the moneymen, the fossil fuel interests, and the right wing in general, for decades, in the face of the obvious.

  12. Superman1 says:

    We have a media driven by what the owners want, the advertisers want, what will maximize profit, and what will draw readers; there is a strong interplay of ideology and profit, which may not always coincide. The ‘savvy’ reporters who want to ‘succeed’ at all costs will slant the articles to keep the owners happy; they usually don’t have to be told to do this.

  13. Superman1 says:

    Is that a free press? In some sense it’s free in that anyone can set up such a system and compete. The way it seems to be working is that the major media are heavily driven by the wants of the advertisers, who happen to be rich, and the wants of the owners, who also happen to be rich. So, it’s freer for the wealthier although, in theory, anyone can compete.

  14. Superman1 says:

    PART 1. There is an old adage: you are either part of the solution, or part of the problem. It is rather simplistic, but has its merits. For climate change, those who are part of the problem constitute two main categories: those who do nothing, and those who take actions opposed to ameliorating climate change.

  15. Superman1 says:

    PART 2. In my view, all those in the latter category, not just those you mention, should be brought before the court. That would include anyone who proposes a concept that they know would drive us over the climate cliff, but would profit them or their sponsors in the process. In my view, these types are no better than the ones you mention, although they hide under the verbiage acceptable to the climate activist community.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes, and, ‘in theory’, I can fly to the moon by flapping my arms about. Yes, any boy or girl with a spare hundred million or so can start their own MSM rag. Ah, can’t you just smell the Freedom.

  17. Spike says:

    According to the BBC:

    In Austria, the meteorological service said two months of rain had fallen in just two days.

  18. Raul M. says:

    An amazing image of the Antartic. It has a edge on the ice sheet separating the east and west of the ice sheet. My guess is that the distinction between east and west is changing because of the changing edge.

  19. Raul M. says:

    The eastern side of the Antartic ice sheet seems to have a slope. Does it show an evenness to the slope or is it jagged with smaller cliffs?

  20. prokaryotes says:

    But how much ppm equivalent was due to the Milankovich impact?

  21. Superman1 says:

    “‘in theory’, I can fly to the moon by flapping my arms about.” In theory? Most of your posts sound like they are coming from the moon (or beyond) after a long flight.

  22. BobbyL says:

    One way to get advertisers, although certainly not the only way, is to try to increase readership by putting out a high quality publication that strives for objective reporting. This will probably get readers who tend to have more education than average and have above average wealth. Therefore advertisers like Jaguar, Nieman-Marcus, etc. might prefer to advertise in that publication.

  23. Calamity Jean says:

    That could be stage 2 or stage 3.

  24. Ric Merritt says:

    Over a number of years, enough to smooth out the jitters, sea level rise is the best single overall diagnostic of global warming, since it integrates expansion from warmer water and contribution from melting land ice.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Fair enough. Stage 2.5.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    My secret is out! Your green cheese soufflé is in the mail.

  27. Dave S. Nottear says:

    “Leal and Levitt then discussed the issue of climate change, sea level rise, and what listeners to his show can do to ensure that they make money as events unfold.”

    Sounds like the scene in Silence of the Lambs, where Hannibal Lecter talks to his victim as he eats his brain.

    The trials cannot begin soon enough.

    Got Stones?

  28. and of course the last ones:
    “It’s too late to do anything anyway”
    “Why didn’t you warn us?”

    Here’s a selection of famous last words:
    “Don’t die like I did” – George Best
    “I told you I was ill” – Spike Milligan
    “I am just going outside and may be some time.” – Capt Lawrence Oates
    “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” – Kurt Cobain

    A sobering reflection on the meaning of life.

  29. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I like George Best’s, ‘Most of my money I spent on fast cars, good times and women. The rest I basically wasted’.

  30. kermit says:


    4) It’s happening, it’s bad, it’s us, but it’s too expensive to fix now. We’ll do it later, when it’s more of a problem.

    5) It’s happening, it’s bad, it’s us, but it’s too late to do anything about it.