Ninety years of relative sea level rise (SLR) at Norfolk’s Sewells Point gauge, with mean lines added by Kip Hansen. It is about two-third due to sinking land, one-third due to long term absolute SLR, and in no way due to modern CO2 emissions.

by Steve Haner and Kip Hansen

When discussing sea level rise, on Virginia’s coast or anywhere else, watch the terms being used very carefully. Absolute sea level is the height of the ocean compared to the center of the Earth. Relative sea level is the height of the ocean compared to a specific point on the shore. They are not the same.

Virginia’s coastal region is getting creamed by relative sea level rise, not the absolute variety. As clear and important as that is, however, Virginia officialdom has decided to ignore it and instead base its economic decisions on scary model projections that put much of tidal Virginia underwater within decades.

This June article from Virginia Mercury details how Governor Ralph Northam’s administration imposed the assumption that relative sea level at Sewell’s Point will rise 2.2 feet by 2050, which would require an acceleration of the measured rise by factors of about five. The projected rise would approach seven feet by 2100. That would cover much of developed Virginia Beach.

As noted yesterday, when evaluating the Climate Armageddon Narrative, one of the key steps is to ask what facts are not being mentioned because they might undermine favored conclusions. On the issue of relative sea level, a recent state report with quite an alarmist tone overall at least honestly admits what is really going on.

“The rate of relative sea-level rise in coastal Virginia, which combines both sea-level rise and land subsidence, is among the highest rates in the United States.” (Emphasis added.) Elsewhere it adds: “Under the Intermediate-High Sea-Level Rise projection developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and adopted by the Commonwealth for planning purposes, there could be as much as 6.69 feet of relative sea-level rise at Sewells Point in Norfolk between 2000 and 2100.

Most news stories on projected future relative sea levels on Virginia’s coast ignore the inconvenient fact that much of our coastal region is sinking. Virginia Mercury ignored it in this story and made only passing mention in that June report. Why? Perhaps because the sinking land cannot be blamed on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants or Toyotas.

The relative sea level rise at Sewells Point (see opening illustration) is 4.73 millimeters per year, give or take about a quarter of a millimeter, and it has shown that rate of rise for 90 years of records. NOAA puts absolute sea level rise at about 1.7 mm per year, give or take, (about the width of a nickel), meaning about two-thirds of the change at Sewells Point is not the rising ocean. It is the sinking land.

A 2007 study on the readings at Gloucester Point (immediately below) concluded two thirds of the 3.81 mm per year relative sea level rise was due to the sinking land. The table at the end of this post illustrates other examples in and around Virginia.

NOAA data. Prepared by Kip Hansen.

If your street in Norfolk is the one flooding, the distinction between absolute and relative won’t matter. If you are investing billions of dollars based on overblown fears about worldwide sea level rise, you might want to start with the actual data. The historical trend line for Sewells Point does add about 16 inches of relative sea level by 2100, and that will indeed be a problem for the low-lying areas.

If the absolute sea level rise in the North Atlantic stays about 2 millimeters per year, it would take 150 years to see a one-foot rise (305 mm). To reach even the 2.2-foot increase (670 mm) the state officially expects by 2050, the rates of rise at Sewells Point would have to be four to five times the observed rate. On what do they base that dire projection? Models.

All of the projections of more rapid change are based on models that purport to account for the expansion of warming waters and outflow from melting ice and glaciers, with the added assumption of accelerating trends rather than steady change.

The dependence on climate models is the problem with today’s climate science. The more skeptical of climate scientists and journalists have been pointing out that the models are “running hot” – exaggerating future risks — for years. Finally, in a July 2021 interview with the journal SCIENCE, Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and Acting Senior Climate Advisor for NASA, has been forced by reality to admit:

Already scientific papers are appearing using CMIP’s (the models when combined) unconstrained worst-case scenarios for 2100, adding fire to what are already well-justified fears. But that practice needs to change, Schmidt says. ‘You end up with numbers for even the near-term that are insanely scary—and wrong.”

Again, this is not an argument that Virginia can relax. Our coast is showing high relative sea level rise in places. Our storm water and other urban infrastructure is already being swamped from time to time by the existing storms and that steady (if slow) relative rise of our oceans. None of this, however, is due to accelerating climate trends and it does not support the Climate Armageddon Narrative.

Kip Hansen is an experienced analyst and writer on issues of climate and human-caused climate change. Found as I was seeking a volunteer consultant to help with my response, he added several points to my argument and prepared several illustrations. He deserved more than a “hat tip.”

NOAA data. Prepared by Kip Hansen.

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92 responses to “Virginia Has a Rising Sea Problem, Relatively”

  1. Wait, what are you saying? That experts who can’t agree on a hurricane’s path over the coming seven days may not be correct about guessing the change in the climate and its effect on the oceans over the next 100 years?

    1. I get your point regarding the complexity of a week’s event much less decades, but also thought that, in the instance of Ida, they had it pretty well nailed 4-5 days out – speed, strength, landing area.

  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    You are drowning in relatively higher water.
    You are drowning in absolutely higher water.

    1. You are drowning in Absolut…

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Sweet. Prefer Reyka. They melt glaciers to make it. Wait. OMG!

        1. Nice!

          That one deserves more than just my “up-vote”. Come on people, show the man some love.

        2. Seriously, have you tried Cirrus Vodka?

          My wife and I gave it a try because it is made in Virginia. We did not really expect to like it, but were quite pleasantly surprised. We both think it is excellent.

          1. DJRippert Avatar

            Try American Revolution Vodka. Company started not just by veterans but largely by special forces veterans. No malarkey.

            Watch the “Our Story” video.

            You’ll have to buy online. The tried to sell through Va ABC stores but didn’t have enough volume for our state’s socialist retail liquor retail monopoly.

            What does freedom taste like to you?


          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Have not. The spousal unit is the vodka drinker, and she likes, in order of preference, Reyka, Grey Goose, and Tito’s. I cannot tell the difference.

            What I like about Grey Goose is that when I drive to New Hampshire, I can buy four 1.75l bottles and the savings over VABC pays for the gas both ways.

            FWIW, I thought about renting a Ryder and paying off the whole vacation house.

            I’ll try Cirrus.

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Well, technically, the center of the Earth is not the center of the Earth either. And, the oceans have bumps.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Hansen sent me a bunch of stuff to read on the hard science of attempts to measure sea level and sea level rise. Will need that 1.75l handle you mentioned before I start digging in….

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Don’t. Just drink the vokda, and ask God himself. The problem is summarized by the old adage that “your constants never are and your variables rarely do.”

        The confouding facts are that the Earth is gaining mass daily. It is not a sphere. It is like a golf egg, or rather an egg made by Titleist.

        Imagine a solid mostly iron yoke, in a hearty stew of molten junk covered by a relatively more solid pie crust. Now spin it and wobble it. All of it.

        The distance of the ocean surface to the center depends on the mass of all that junk and it’s all changing — constantly. So everything has to be done in the average, of some sort.

        The fun part? If you poured a bucket of water into the ocean it would not spread evenly. Hell, it might actually all run to some point.

  4. Nice job, Steve. Kip is a fantastic find. It’s really nice to be able to produce our our charts and graphs!

    To your point about subsidence as a source of relative sea level rise… There are two sources of relative sea level rise– one is the shifting of tectonic plates, which we are powerless to effect, and the other is the draw-down of the Potomac Aquifer, which we not only can do something about but are doing something about. The Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) is injecting cleaned-up wastewater into the aquifer. This is a large-scale project, and it has the potential to dramatically slow this source of subsidence.

    You and I have made this point before. As a society, we can try to adjust the knob on the world’s thermostat — CO2 in the atmosphere — by re-engineering the global economy, or we can address problems as they arise. The CO2 projections are, as you note, based on models of unknowable reliability. Any forecast of Return on Investment in controlling CO2 is based almost entirely upon the assumptions that are made. Given the choice, I’d rather invest in SPSA-like projects that fix our problems here at home.

    If the doomsters are right, nothing we do here in Virginia is going to affect the global thermostat. We’re just not big enough of a player. China and India will overwhelm anything we do many times over. But we can protect our own shorelines. No one else will do that for us.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      “If the doomsters are right, nothing we do here in Virginia is going to affect the global thermostat. We’re just not big enough of a player.”

      Ahhh … the crux of the issue.

      I doesn’t seem like we even have a very strong national program.

    2. My concern with only employing targeted, tactical approaches (that’s not intended to be a negative description) is the risk of digging a hole that can’t be filled, but could have/should have been.

      Also, wrt to the concept that the US shouldn’t act globally because the Chinese aren’t doing anything, this argument is based on a false assumption. China is definitely a horrible polluter, but they also installed over half of the world’s wind and solar last year and over 4.5x what the US did. Not defending the Chinese, just saying they are doing something (and also a dominant global force for wind and solar manufacturing.)

  5. DJRippert Avatar

    So, let me see if I got this straight …. our governor grew up on the Chesapeake Bay but doesn’t understand subsidence? Kind of like he didn’t know that the plantation owned by his family for 200 years had slaves?

    Sharps Island: From 300 acres in the 1830s to a resort and hotel in the early 1900s to being 10 feet underwater today.

  6. […] dire of those predictions, not those which merely extrapolate historical trends. (More on that in a second story on sea level […]

  7. Anecdotal only, of course, but the last time I was in Virginia Beach (2 years ago) it sure looked to me like the old Cavalier Hotel was the same distance from the ocean that it was when I was growing up there in the 1960s-80s.

    Seaside erosion is a whole lot bigger issue than sea level rise.

    1. An inch today is not what it was in the 1960s….

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        He told her…

    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Virginia Beach paid Bruce Thompson a lot of money for that illusion.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    I don’t think the sea level thing is about millimeters… or subsistence but storm surge like we saw with Superstorm Sandy.

    Infrastructure, homes and businesses that had never been flooded were flooded. Same with Houston – homes that has never before been flooded.

    In Norfolk and locale – think King Tides and think insurance companies
    that are skyrocketing their rates.

    Changes to flood insurance policy could triple premiums starting in October

    NORFOLK, Va. — The national program that most of us get our flood insurance through is going to see major changes starting this October, mainly because what most people pay right now doesn’t match the actual risk.

    About 16% of the homes in this section of town have a legitimate risk of serious flood damage. That group pays, on average, about $1400 every year in flood insurance premiums.

    According to First Street Foundation, it’s time to start thinking about changes to flood insurance premiums.

    The rate increase needed to cover the actual risk of flood damage is approximately $5,700 – that’s almost a 300% increase.”

    This ain’t no lying scientists…. it’s reality.

    And not just Virginia:

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been preparing to drop a seismic climate-change bomb. Flood insurance premiums for millions of at-risk homes and businesses could surge as much as four times what they currently pay over the next few years when FEMA announces its “Risk Rating 2.0.”

    The burden of higher rates for flood insurance will hit the coastal states of California, Delaware, Florida, South Carolina and Washington the hardest, according to First Street. California alone has had about $1.7 billion in economic damage associated with flooding. As the nation adapts to warmer waters and climate change, other states that will face bigger losses and higher premiums include Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

    And here’s the kicker – Guess what happens if FEMA bails the flood insurance subsidy program and turns it all over to insurance companies to determine risk and costs?

    Bottom line – yeah, one can argue that it’s mere millimeters and due to “relative” or “subsistence” – distrust of NOAA… I wonder if the same folks also distrust the FEMA flood insurance program?

    Pretty sure the insurance companies have got good handle on risk – a lot better than some folks…

  9. Steve, I agree with you, the news media don’t get the difference between what’s happening in Hampton Roads versus what’s attributable to climate change, and are not doing even a half-decent job explaining this to the public.

    But it’s not an either/or choice. Both are affecting and will affect the incidence of flooding in the lower Chesapeake Bay and environs.

    You are correct, the sinking coastline is the far more immediate concern. But that does not mean the additional increment of sea level rise due to climate change is irrelevant, at least in the multi-decade time frames relevant to housing construction, zoning, roads, ports and other infrastructure.

    JAB, you say, “here are two sources of relative sea level rise– one is the shifting of tectonic plates, which we are powerless to effect, and the other is the draw-down of the Potomac Aquifer, which we not only can do something about but are doing something about.” I agree, particularly about the ground-water depletion which is reprehensible on multiple levels.

    There is a third source of sea level rise which is actually the largest cause of coastal sinking in coastal Virginia (except in a few small areas where groundwater depletion is the larger factor). This is the coastal plain isostatic rebound from the melting of the ice in the last Ice Age some 12,000 years ago. The ice (accumulated around what is now the Great Lakes) massively depressed the North American continent across the Midwest region, and this caused a (counterintuitive) rise in the continental plate some hundreds of miles to the south and east. Imagine that you push your thumb down into the icing on a cupcake; the squished icing rises around your thumb. Now, remove your thumb and the ring of icing around your thumbprint will slowly slump back to level again. In the same manner the continent for hundreds of miles around (but not directly beneath where the ice pressed it) is slumping downwards once again. Yes, it’s been 12 millenia but that’s how slowly the ever-so-slightly-plastic earth’s crust moves. For a better explanation and references see here: In the Hampton Roads area this isostatic rebound is a far greater factor than tectonic plate shifting, as the Atlantic Coast of North America is relatively inactive currently in the plate-tectonics sense.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Acbar, absent the claimed acceleration in the models, in most places there is time to adapt and mitigate. If you assume that massive acceleration, fine, but it lacks real data. On mitigation, good luck. Human beings will not want to give up their beach houses, etc. Our entire flood “insurance” program is an insane subsidy encouraging people to build in harms way.

      1. No, I don’t assume “massive” acceleration — but I do assume there will be additional sea level rise in absolute terms in addition to the larger (in the short run) effects of subsidence on the Virginia coastline. The glacial melting in both Antarctica and Greenland is already advanced enough to guarantee some rise. Certainly there’s not going to be any sea level decline to offset the coastal subsidence, which by itself is bad enough.

        As for mitigation, I completely agree about the perverse incentives given by current policies, notably with respect to flood insurance, and, in my experience, development — of low-lying but easy-to-sell, tax-base-expanding, waterfront property.

        Today’s tract housing with that beautiful marsh view is the same parcel the government is going to have to buy back or condemn in just a few years, the way things are going — that’s stupidly shortsighted, simply a gift to the developers, and our children are going to have to pay for it (I don’t expect to be here myself). As DJR said (below), “Right now, the political class in Virginia Beach is allowing developers to prosper knowing that the rest of Virginia (and America) is effectively committing to writing the checks needed to cover the likely catastrophic consequences of these development decisions.”

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          The “other” thing that FEMA does besides the subsidized flood insurance is flood maps.

          They’re “available” to the public and if you look at a place like Tidewater, Mathews and other coastal – it’s a massive amount of land that becomes over time, untenable in terms of infrastructure, roads, sewer, drainfields, etc and as that land loses it’s value, local govt loses tax revenues.

          I have my doubts that taxpayers are going to agree to pay taxes to bail out property owners of flooded land but I think we’re going to see this issue pretty soon despite the claims that the issue is “over blown”.

  10. LarrytheG Avatar

    ” The rate of sea-level rise in the 20th century along much of the U.S. Atlantic coast was the fastest in 2,000 years, and southern New Jersey had the fastest rates, according to a Rutgers-led study.”

    The global rise in sea-level from melting ice and warming oceans from 1900 to 2000 led to a rate that’s more than twice the average for the years 0 to 1800 – the most significant change, according to the study in the journal Nature Communications.

    The study for the first time looked at the phenomena that contributed to sea-level change over 2,000 years at six sites along the coast (in Connecticut, New York City, New Jersey and North Carolina), using a sea-level budget. A budget enhances understanding of the processes driving sea-level change. The processes are global, regional (including geological, such as land subsidence) and local, such as groundwater withdrawal.”

  11. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Once again, I really don’t understand the obsession with the environmental reporter for the Virginia Mercury. Also, I get so tired that this blog starts so many stories with something like:
    “the LEFT says this, but here’s the real truth.” All you are doing is slicing and citing to obscure some pretty dangerous facts.

    1. FluxAmbassador Avatar

      I get the sense folks around here are a little more genteel, so forgive me this slight indulgence, but it’s the old “bury ’em with bullshit” technique. The broader picture about climate change remains pretty clear, but let’s nit pick a few specifics – and even within that we’ll cherry pick and smear in turns – in at attempt to bury the reality.

      I find conservatives newfound distrust of models particularly mordant given their love of economics generally and hailing of the Laffer curve specifically.

      It’s particularly silly here where the distinction is supposed to be – okay, yes, the sea level in Hampton Roads IS rising and the solutions are all going to look pretty much the same BUT we shouldn’t do them because the sea level rise here is RELATIVE so take that libs! As if the actual conservative thing to do isn’t to build early while it’s cheaper both in terms of raw materials cost and because it’s more expensive to rebuild in the middle of a catastrophe.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        “As if the actual conservative thing to do isn’t to build early while it’s cheaper both in terms of raw materials cost and because it’s more expensive to rebuild in the middle of a catastrophe.”

        The conservative thing to do would be to insist that Virginia Beach fund a plan to pay for their own sea rise protection (with local taxes) or stop new development immediately in any area threatened by rising sea levels – regardless of the reason for the rise.

        Right now, the political class in Virginia Beach is allowing developers to prosper knowing that the rest of Virginia (and America) is effectively committing to writing the checks needed to cover the likely catastrophic consequences of these development decisions.

        I was in New Orleans relatively soon after Katrina. The stupidity of some of the development decisions made in that city was mind boggling. Now comes Ida. We’ll see if they even partly learned their lesson. Will anything be different in Tidewater?

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          The insurance companies are going to decide as soon as the government stops subsidizing flood insurance.

          So much for the “anti-govt”, “free-market” folks in BR – not a peep about govt subsidized flood insurance!

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Keep your filthy government hands off my flood insurance, and my Medicare, and my Roths, and my Social Security, and my common defense, and my general welfare, …

            Why, I’d have been worth billions if the SEC hadn’t messed up my buddy Bernie Madoff with their silly rules…

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            We don’t believe no stinkin global warming and flooding in due to subsistence and don’t bother us about what we should do about it including that pesky govt-subsidized flood insurance.

            moving on…. to our “other” Conservative issues….

            Hey I wonder what Youngkin’s solution to Tidewater flooding is? Lemme guess, it’s “their” problem the less govt the better!

          3. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            He has plans to manufacture in SWVa large bottles to fill from Mobray Arch at high tide and sell to the Chinese for their seafood farms.

          4. DJRippert Avatar

            Another mindless comment.

            Medicare – paid for through aa lifetime of taxes on personal income.

            Roths – A person’s earned income funding retirement.

            Social Security – paid for through a lifetime of taxes on personal income.

            Subsidized flood insurance – Viewed as seriously flawed by just about every real conservative.


            You’re 0-for-4, have you considered trying out for the Orioles?

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            Two variants of Medicare. Part A is funded from FICA taxes and actually will go negative in few years and have to cut benefits.

            Medicare Part B is paid for 75% by taxpayers with 25% by recipients.

            It’s a major portion of Federal spending:


          6. DJRippert Avatar

            I could live with this ridiculous comment if it came from the half-troll or the flux capacitor. But you, Larry? Jim Bacon has railed against subsidized flood insurance for at least the last decade and you know it.

            “That’s 21st-century America — get rich, hire a bunch of lawyers, engineers and tax accountants, lobby the government for special privileges, and sponge off the less well-to-do. FEMA is doing the right thing by raising insurance rates on coastal properties to reflect real risks of flood damage. But a morally corrupt system allows the wealthy and well connected to evade paying their share. Populist conservatives like me don’t mind people getting rich — creating wealth is a good thing. But we resent like hell when the rich use their wealth and power to win privileges not enjoyed by others.”


          7. Wow, good memory!

          8. LarrytheG Avatar

            And I do stand corrected. DO you advocate getting rid of FEMA subsidies alltogether?

          9. LarrytheG Avatar

            I stand corrected. Jim as written about it.

            but as a Conservative/Libertarian – WHY support FEMA subsidizing flood insurance at all and especially so now that we’re having this fight over GW?

            Why not say you disagree about GW but that FEMA needs to get out of subsidized insurance RIGHT NOW?

            That would be a principled Conservative approach that I could respect.

            In other words, deal with the flooding issue even if we don’t agree on why.

            If FEMA got out, then everyone could make up their own mind about what they believe and especially those that own properties in coastal areas.

            My bet is that many Conservatives would go ape-sh*t if someone suggested FEMA stop subsidizing insurance because so many of them are actually invested in it.

        2. FluxAmbassador Avatar

          I half agree with you. Writing this off as a “local problem” isn’t my bag, but as a country at every level we need to get realistic about how many parts of this country are going to cease being viable as large scale population centers and figure out what to do about it.

          Even without hurricanes that can go from non-existent to category four in the time it takes to microwave a burrito pounding on it, New Orleans’ viability is at risk because the Mississippi simply no longer wants to flow that way. We’ve dumped some money into making sure the current trajectory hold, but eventually the water is going to either breach Lake Pontchartrain or bust through protections and join the Atchafalaya. We need to stop paying money to rebuild and start paying money to resettle these people.

          Similarly with Hampton Roads – every beach house that gets washed away and rebuilt only to get washed away again 5 or 10 years later is a waste of time and money. The area is sinking. Do what we can to mitigate that, sure, but stop incentivising people to build there and start pushing them inland.

          The West Coast is in a similar problem – even without climate change it’s becoming clearer a lot of settlement and agricultural decisions were based on an abnormally wet century. People need to be moved out instead of rescued and their houses rebuilt every summer.

          The way we’re currently doing business is just madness.

          1. DJRippert Avatar

            It’s a local problem because localities make zoning decisions. If Tidewater localities keep zoning development and re-development in “at risk” areas then those localities need to fund the costs of protecting the “at risk” areas’ buildings.

      2. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        You are as bad as Larry. You lie about what I wrote. I was damn clear that we have to be better prepared for floods simply based on what we know is happening, with no need for scary models and hyped up predictions.

        1. FluxAmbassador Avatar

          “…the Climate Armageddon Narrative…”

          “If you are investing billions of dollars based on overblown fears…”

          Your main point in this article is that climate change is overblown and that we shouldn’t do the kinds of protective measures the people who acknowledge it as a serious threat are recommending. You gesture at flooding being an issue, but you never say which measures should or should not be taken, just that the people projecting large scale sea level rise are wrong.

          From a modeling perspective, the people who are using the worst case models to feed their own models to produce results are engaging in second order analysis and need to be really careful. Some of them aren’t and some of those second order models are spitting out junk.

          But your overall point is that we shouldn’t trust models full stop. You’ve denigrated their use outright in two long pieces now with the alternative being “just look at past patterns” as if the system is static. That’s the kind of thinking that would get someone to dump all their money into buggy whip stock in 1908 because the only people showing their decline were those ne’er-do-wells modeling the future popularity of the Model T.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            beyond that – the narrative is written by two folks who have apparently zero background in climate science (or any science) who are using data collected by actual scientists and claiming the scientists who actually have the academic background are interpreting their own collected data incorrectly.

            Not just one or two, the entire field.

            One of the critics here is characterized as ” experienced analyst and writer on issues of climate and human-caused climate change.” who is then lecturing on how wrong the actually scientists with actual credentials are wrong, incompetent, etc.

            It’s bizarre.

          2. FluxAmbassador Avatar

            I have no problem with citizen scientists. A lot of good work has been done by people with amateur backgrounds working to uncover what’s going on in the world around them. If Kip and Stephen were doing actual alternative analysis and it stood up to scrutiny and rigor I’d be all for it.

            But that’s not what’s happening. It’s a bunch of cherry picking and rock throwing masquerading as analysis with some really unnecessary polemic thrown in for good measure.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            To me, it’s like an entire field of science , like Cancer has been told by citizen scientists with no background in the field that most all the scientists in the field of cancer are wrong, incompetent, lying, etc.

            Models and modelling are key tools in every single science. Yes, they can be misused by individuals or even teams but by an entire community of scientists in a field over decades? Really?

            It smacks of ancient times when scientists were accused of being heretics.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      From a pedestrian perspective – The Virginia Mercury is free so you can link to their stories without sending people to a paywall.

      Second, the Virginia Mercury represents left-of-center thinking in Virginia. Bacons’s Rebellion is a Virginia themed blog.

      I don’t like the fact that the funding of Virginia Mercury is murky. However, they publish good articles written by professional journalists.

      What is wrong with the Virginia Mercury as a source?

  12. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Picture worth a thousand words

    Briefly, what this means. If you hopped on a scale in a dark blue location, and then flew to a dark red location, you’d appear to have gained weight = mass*(g in Gal+/-color value). It’ll be some unit of force.

    Now your skin and bones keeps you at the same height, but if you were a drop of liquid held by surface tension and allowed to spread out, your waist and height would change.

  13. Brian Leeper Avatar
    Brian Leeper

    Virginia has a crappy infrastructure problem that weather makes obvious.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Sandy did a number on New Jersey infrastructure, right?

      1. Brian Leeper Avatar
        Brian Leeper

        How many New Jersey roads routinely flood in a major rainstorm for years on end without any successful attempt to fix it?

        It can be difficult to understand that water won’t flow uphill when you’re missing a chromosome or two.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          well no, I’m talking about places that had never flooded – like rail tunnels.


          was that a failure of NJ to “plan” ?

          1. Brian Leeper Avatar
            Brian Leeper

            I’m talking about roads in VIRGINIA that flood ROUTINELY and nothing is done to fix the problem, except to put a footage sign to show how deep the water is.

            A half-ass solution for a half-ass state.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            Okay. What would New Jersey do?

            how would you stop the flooding?


          3. Matt Adams Avatar

            New Jersey is irrelevant, stay on topic.

          4. Brian Leeper Avatar
            Brian Leeper

            I can tell you that one suburban city outside Chicago used a closed quarry as a place to store stormwater to prevent flooding.

            Can you imagine anyplace in Virginia having the foresight and ambition to do such a thing?

            Me either.

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            VDOT and Va are doing a lot more on storm water than years before – for new development. The problem is what to do about older development where there were few or no rules for storage.

            NoVa, Richmond, Washington, Baltimore and Chicago (as well as others) all have CSO problems due primarily to the same issue – older development that had no stipulations for storm water.

            It’s not really a VDOT problem. It’s a local govt problem when they approve development without sufficient storm water storage.

            I thought you were talking about Tidewater when the king tides flood the roads.

            storm water is not VDOT’s responsibility, except for it’s roads.

          6. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Chicago? Is that near Trenton? Well, I can’t imagine a quarry anywhere near Norfolk. Do they quarry sand? Do they quarry sand in a place with a 3-foot water table?

          7. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

            Larry the NJ Rutger’s study has apparently been criticized as being extremist worse case predictions of sea level rise. So that’s why sea level rise now expected to be worse in NJ than anywhere else: alarmist guesstimates. My understanding it is still unclear if sea level rise is accelerating.

            We need to tell the offshore Wind turbine people to check their design for 5-ft sea level rise. That ought to just about wipe out the electrical infrastructure bringing the power shore. Might as well cancel the projects now…oh wait, maybe we can risk it for that case?

  14. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    Many places around the world, major cities along the coast are sinking. Some global cities are located on silty river deltas and the delta is falling into the sea, like Virginia. Some very expensive mitigation projects are in progress – sea walls, moats, etc – to adapt to the change. New Orleans would be a USA example of a massive adaptation project since Katrina, though it was hurricane protection as the main driver in that case.

    Before we moved here from NJ, we lived in the New Orleans region a couple years. My nostrils can intuitively smell the hurricane flood waters from here: that “water” is 50% water and 50% cow manure, etc.

    It is just about never wrong to be concerned about the environment. But what we are hearing from many Americans is fear of Armageddon and super-extreme chemophobia. This divisive extremism is somewhat unique to America. But what many liberals are saying, we get a choice, and our choice is to not tolerate things U.S. liberals like to hate, like fossil fuels.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I am curious – were you in New Jersey when Super storm Sandy hit and flooded rail tunnels that had never been flooded before?

      1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

        Nope we are NoVA 18 years now. But our grandkids lived in North Jersey during Sandy 2012. They are in NoVa now too.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          did you pay attention to what areas of NJ got flooded and whether they had been flooded before?

          Does NJ also have a subsistence issue?

          1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

            Not to the same extent as Virginia.

            The worse subsidence in Virginia thru Maryland/Annapolis is related to the “elastic” landmass snapping back slowly from deformation caused the Ice Age glaciers. I am not sure the boundaries of that but NJ is out of that zone I think.

            NJ would still have the background rise in sea level per the graph, and groundwater extraction issues, etc.

            PS- some of the generic flooding issues in NJ are in North and Central Jersey so I am not initimately familiar with the flood prone area. I lived in the state of South Jersey. You know, from the movie Rocky: ” South Philly, South Jersey…” he said. Passaic river I want to say, but I got family up there if you need to know where not to buy a house.

          2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

            I have no immediate problem with the article, except the comment that the sea level rise is accelerating. That is slightly contradictory with Steve and Kip’s graph showing a constant level of increase.

            However, as a public planner and engineer, for sure, we need to assume climate change might make sea level rise worse, and we need to spend money to adapt the vulnerable areas like New Orleans did after Katrina.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            If you saw other scientific articles that also said it was accelerating?


            Why would you believe Kip and Steve’s opinions when neither have a background in this field?

            Steve and Kips point seems to be that the science is wrong – and perhaps sea level is increasing (but not accelerating) with the implication that the issue is “hyped” and doing something about it is NOT urgent at all.

          4. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

            My personal climate change guru is probably Judith Curry at Climate etc. I would be looking to her critique of the article.

            Liberal thinking process- Do you agree with Climate Change? If yes then we must ….

          5. Matt Adams Avatar

            Those darn French, building below sea level.

    2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      “Some global cities are located on silty river deltas and the delta is falling into the sea, like Virginia.”

      That is deltaic subsidence which is a slightly different thing than what VB is experiencing albeit with the same effect. I think the issue in both cases is that it is hard enough dealing with these very real subsidence issues but they are being (and will continue to be) exacerbated by sea level rising and storm surges due to climate change. That is not an extremist opinion. As you alluded to even the natural subsidence of flood waters after the events is hampered by sea level rising (either relative or absolute).

      1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

        There is no argument from me on the above.

        The extremism issue gets into proposed fixes, like building millions of small power stations to charge 6000-lb mandated electric cars.

        1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          I am a bit concerned about a one size fits all approach to energy use and carbon reduction. But the need to move from fossil fuels (or use carbon capture to make those fuels carbon neutral at least) seems to be warranted if we want to minimize the damages and fixes for our already threatened coastal areas. From what I have read, the 1.7mm/year rise we have experienced over the last 90 years will be roughly tripled over the next 30 years. In other words, we are already dealing with some 20cm of sea level rise in addition to the subsidence problem and in 30 years, we will be faced with another 20cm. I believe that is already baked in the cake, the problem is that it will be accelerating even more after that. We are really going to need to take an “all of the above” approach when it comes to resolving these issues on our coastline.

        2. LarrytheG Avatar

          but should that also divert you from dealing with the coastal areas issues?

          Are the coastal areas risks associated with global warming and future risks or flooding that is happening right now?

          We have major issues with flooding in coastal areas and we point to something else as a reason to do nothing?

          Northam creates a plan for the flooding and THE issue is his mention of GW as a cause?

          It’s almost like we are not going to actually deal with the flooding unless we agree it’s not due to GW!

          1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

            Because liberals say, if it is GW, then all fossil fuels must be banned yada yada and we must teach our children hatred for those Americans who do not agree with progressive plans to save America from Armageddon..

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            Only true for the far right zealots. Not true in the real world.

            And most polls show more and more people believe GW is real and we need to do something even as the far right continues it’s denial and lies about it.

            Most govt around the world believes it. Most scientists around the world believe it. Most corporations around the world believe it and hardly anyone in those other countries blames it on “liberals”.

            Ya’ll might need a reality check.

          3. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

            Did I ever say GW was not real? The issue is appropriate response. I had campaigned against Dems coal fired power plants for decades. I am trying to figure out exactly when it was the liberals got so far left of me.

          4. LarrytheG Avatar

            The “appropriate response” folks seem to be mostly lined up pretty much with the skeptics and deniers on the right.

            Liberals are also pretty much not advocating to stop burning gas tomorrow or outlaw gasoline-powered cars tomorrow, or anything close.

            They know it’s gonna take years, decades but think we need to start moving.

            The right spend their days creating straw men and false narratives… and not that interested in the truth any more IMHO of course.

            Most responsible folks think it’s real and we need to start making changes.

  15. William O'Keefe Avatar
    William O’Keefe

    rl Thanks Steve for reintroducing the affect of subsidence. While the media likes to claim that all sea level rise is due to man made warming, it conveniently ignores an important point by Carl Wunsch, a world renown oceanographer, who has pointed out that sea level has been rising since the end of the last ice age–16,000 or more years ago, and will continue to rise until the next one.

  16. […] floodwalls and drainage improvements and zoning changes you might imagine won’t change the relative sea level rise facing Hampton Roads.  Those steps won’t “end climate change” and it is […]

  17. […] report last year that assumed 2.2 feet of rise by 2050 and almost seven feet by 2100.  I wrote about it on Bacon’s Rebellion in August.  The higher prediction of almost seven feet is also cited in the […]

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