Via a blog post on the UK Telegraph website comes the claim that the IPCC has been falsifying sea level data, probably to use as evidence that their computer models are correct. The post is based on this interview of Prof. Nils-Axel Mörner of Sweden for an outfit called the Argentinian Foundation for a Scientific Ecology in June. Here’s some of what he had to say:
Another way of looking at what is going on is the tide gauge. Tide gauging is very complicated, because it gives different answers for wherever you are in the world. But we have to rely on geology when we interpret it. So, for example, those people in the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], choose Hong Kong, which has six tide gauges, and they choose the record of one, which gives 2.3 mm per year rise of sea level. Every geologist knows that that is a subsiding area. It’s the compaction of sediment; it is the only record which you shouldn’t use. And if that figure is correct, then Holland would not be subsiding, it would be uplifting.
And that is just ridiculous. Not even ignorance could be responsible for a thing like that. So tide gauges, you have to treat very, very carefully. Now, back to satellite altimetry, which shows the water, not just the coasts, but in the whole of the ocean. And you measure it by satellite. From 1992 to 2002, [the graph of the sea level] was a straight line, variability along a straight line, but absolutely no trend whatsoever. We could see those spikes: a very rapid rise, but then in half a year, they fall back again. But absolutely no trend, and to have a sea-level rise, you need a trend.
Then, in 2003, the same data set, which in their [IPCC’s] publications, in their website, was a straight line—suddenly it changed, and showed a very strong line of uplift, 2.3 mm per year, the same as from the tide gauge. And that didn’t look so nice. It looked as though they had recorded something; but they hadn’t recorded anything. It was the original one which they had suddenly twisted up, because they entered a “correction factor,” which they took from the tide gauge. So it was not a measured thing, but a figure introduced from outside. I accused them of this at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow —I said you have introduced factors from outside; it’s not a measurement. It looks like it is measured from the satellite, but you don’t say what really happened. And they answered, that we had to do it, because otherwise we would not have gotten any trend!
That is terrible! As a matter of fact, it is a falsification of the data set. Why? Because they know the answer. And there you come to the point: They “know” the answer; the rest of us, we are searching for the answer. Because we are field geologists; they are computer scientists. So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don’t find it!
I have been the expert reviewer for the IPCC, both in 2000 and last year. The first time I read it, I was exceptionally surprised. First of all, it had 22 authors, but none of them— none—were sea-level specialists. They were given this mission, because they promised to answer the right thing. Again, it was a computer issue. This is the typical thing: The metereological community works with computers, simple computers.
Geologists don’t do that! We go out in the field and observe, and then we can try to make a model with computerization; but it’s not the first thing.
So he’s accusing them of taking data from a tide gauge in an area where the land is subsiding and plugging it in as readings from satellite. That’s pretty damning, but there’s more:
This tree, which I showed in the documentary, is interesting. This is a prison island, and when people left the island, from the ’50s, it was a marker for them, when they saw this tree alone out there, they said, “Ah, freedom!” They were allowed back. And there have been writings and talks about this. I knew that this tree was in that terrible position already in the 1950s. So the slightest rise, and it would have been gone. I used it in my writings and for television. You know what happened? There came an Australian sea-level team, which was for the IPCC and against me. Then the students pulled down the tree by hand! They destroyed the evidence. What kind of people are those? And we came to launch this film, “Doomsday Called Off,” right after, and the tree was still green. And I heard from the locals that they had seen the people who had pulled it down. So I put it up again, by hand, and made my TV program. I haven’t told anybody else, but this was the story.
That’s pretty bad, too, if true, but the fact he admits to putting it back up takes a bit of the punch of out it, in my opinion. Read the rest of it. The Argentinian group interviewing him appears to be IPCC skeptics, so it will probably be brushed off by the true believers and alarmists.
Update: I was right to expect a push-back against these claims. Libby at The Newshoggers has linked to a site that specializes in debunking climate skeptics. It has a file on the Swedish scientist that reports he is a believer in dowsing who has in the past attracted the attention of celebrity debunker James Randi. That’s even more of strike against his claims than the tree story. The other stuff tying him obliquely to big oil, not so much.