According to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientific consensus holds that sea levels have continuously risen in recent decades. Now, a new climate study challenges that orthodoxy by showing that coastlines, on average, have been expanding since 1984.
About 14,000 years ago, before the end of the Ice Age, the sea level was some 200 feet lower than today. All scientists agree that sea levels have been rising ever since. However, calculating the sea-level rise is a genuinely hard scientific task. It is not enough to measure in one location because some geological regions are uplifting while others are receding.
Thus, a network of long-term measurements around the world is necessary. Unfortunately, most such assessment stations have been situated near growing cities. As people build heavy structures and pump out groundwater, the land starts sinking, causing the gauges to evaluate sea-level rise that does not exist.
To counter that, satellites have been employed to assess the change, but they have their problems, too. The raw data show no sea-level rise. But the orbits are not entirely stable, so their evaluations need to be calibrated. Sadly, they can be adjusted only to the ground measurement network, which is known to have issues. Thus, any errors in the ground data are inherited by the satellite information. After vigorous scientific debate, the consensus is that the global mean sea level has risen about 3.3 mm (0.83 inches) per decade since 1993.
However, another indirect way to monitor sea levels is far more relevant, namely, to look at how coastlines change. Until recently, that was not practical, but a recent study (Mao et al., 2021) described more efficient and accurate assessment of shoreline change with the use of Google Earth, comparing current conditions to older photos. What they found was intriguing.
Islands, beaches, and coastlines were growing globally. On average, coastlines expanded by 0.26 meters (0.85 feet) per year from 1984 to 2019. One possible interpretation is that sea levels are falling. However, it is essential to note that horizontal change in coastlines cannot be translated easily into vertical sea-level change. There may be myriads of reasons why shores are expanding. One of them is the accumulation of eroded materials from the land. Another may be the geological uplifting of tectonic plates.
Other scientific papers confirm this recent study. Liberty Nation recently reported that most tropical islands were expanding. The Maldives alone grew by 37 square kilometers. We have also noted the lack of sea-level rise observed in geologically stable measurement stations in Australia.
Dr. Bill Johnston also has reported the mismatch between measured sea level and photographic evidence at Cooktown, Great Barrier Reef, in Queensland, Australia. While the gauge has been sinking due to dredging, a comparison of old aerial photographs to new ones shows no change in the coastline for 49 years.
These shoreline studies provide a powerful challenge to the consensus of rapid sea-level rise. More importantly, the only reason we care about sea levels is their impact on the shorelines. If these are measurably growing and not shrinking, as predicted by the IPCC, that is excellent news for humanity.
~ Read more from Caroline Adana.