8 September 2011
External leaders not correctly briefed on claimed sea level rises
Prominent international political figures like UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and European Commission President Jose
Manuel Barroso should get briefed on the facts before coming to New Zealand and making unfounded claims about sea level
rises in the South Pacific. This today from Hon Barry Brill, chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition,
commenting on references during the Pacific Islands Forum made by both Messrs Ban and Barroso about sea level rises in
the vicinity of atoll groups such as Kiribati.
“If either leader had bothered to consult Julia Gillard about the results of her Australian Government’s Bureau of
Meteorology Seaframe tidal gauge project, they would have learned that levels have been stable since the installation of
the first gauges in 1990,” said Mr Brill.
“Our Coalition has today asked for and received confirmation from a world authority on global sea levels, Professor
Nils-Axel Mörner, former head of the Paleogeophysics and. Geodynamics department at Stockholm University in Sweden, and
past president of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution. Dr Mörner’s comments and a graph
showing the stability of levels recorded over the past 17 years by the Kiribati Seaframe tidal gauge can be found on the
"Obviously, there is a major clash between scenario-based computer simulations and reality in the form of observational
based facts and observations in nature itself," Professor Mörner says. "There is no alarming sea level rise in either
Kiribati or Tuvalu".
Mr Brill said it is surprising that local media have forgotten recent New Zealand research showing that coral atolls
maintain a constant height relative to sea levels.
"The fact that Kiribati is growing, not shrinking, was reported fully in June last year. Paul Kench at the University of
Auckland in New Zealand and Arthur Webb at the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji released a study in
2010 on the dynamic response of reef islands to sea level rise in the central Pacific. Kiribati was mentioned in the
study, and Webb and Kench found that the three major urbanised islands in Kiribati - Betio, Bairiki and Nanikai -
increased by 30 per cent (36 hectares), 16.3 per cent (5.8 hectares) and 12.5 per cent (0.8 hectares), respectively.
“It is remarkable that two major news media outlets highlighting Mr Ban’s claims this week could forget that they
themselves published completely opposite stories just last year:
Mr Brill said that other data from our own New Zealand sources shows:
• No significant sea level change at Kiribati, but large excursions related to El Nino events (large falls) and La Nina
• Sea level rise decelerating globally since the 19th century;
• Sea level rise decelerating for the Southwest Pacific since about 1907-1920;
• Sea level falling 2.8 cm for New Zealand so far this century;
• Pacific Ocean sea level falling last few years;
• Global sea level falling sharply last few years.
“The one bright spot is that neither Mr Moon nor Mr Barroso have repeated the silly claim that we humans are changing
the climate by our almost unmeasurable contributions to the tiny percentage that carbon dioxide represents in Earth’s
atmosphere; at 390 parts per million it is less than 0.04%,” Mr Brill concluded.