Tuesday, August 31, 2010

{#7} SPPI - Lord Monckton's "Nils Axel Mörner" claims examined

Dear Mr. Ferguson, and Lord Monckton,
It would be nice to keep this civil. Simply, because you may not like me, or what I’m writing, doesn’t mean I can’t ask you, Robert Ferguson... Science Public Policy Institute, and SPPI’s brain trust: Lord Monckton, some pointed, and public, questions.

I shall continue my little examination of the way you folks present science to a public in need of real and complete information, learning, understanding and appreciation for the global situation humanity is in. In this email {#7} I shall review statements made on SPPI’s website and in the MFMI talk by Lord Chris Monckton regarding Nils Axel Mörner PhD and his claims.

Quoting the 10/14/9 MFMI talk -
MFMI 27:35
LM: “Nickolas who has written 520 papers on the subject.” Then, there is Monckton’s often repeated sentiment: “Professor Niklas Mörner, the world’s foremost expert on sea level.”

I did a Google Scholar search, all told Mörner has published 116 (not 520!) scientific papers. Under the word search “sea level” it was down to 76. I then spent some time looking through the abstracts of those citations. They show Dr. Mörner is a Geophysicist. Specializing on the ground beneath our feet, the lithosphere, its plasticity and its dynamics. In particular, how the ground moves up and down in relation to sea level.

Mörner does have 35 years of experience and knowledge. He has contributed solid pieces of information to the better understanding of coastal sea level fluctuations. But, Mörner is simply one of hundreds of such scientists studying and contributing to that speciality. Jumping from those bona fides to claiming him “the world’s foremost expert” seems a purposeful and gross misrepresentation of reality.

In fact, Mörner has a colorful history more in the spirit of India Jones than “the world’s foremost expert of sea level rise.” Unfortunately, Mörner’s history also includes some striking lapses. Including difficulties with local archeological authorities because of dig misdeeds during field work in Ravlunda, Scania County, Sweden, as reported by Dr. Martin Rundkvist a Swedish archaeologist.

Another, situation arose from Mörner misrepresenting his official capacity before a seminar on climate change organized by the Russian Academy. That incident earned him the following letter of reprimand:
to: Academician Yuri Osipov
President of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Dear Dr. Osipov:

It has come to my attention that Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner gave presentations at the seminar on climate change organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences at the request of President Vladimir Putin earlier this month. Dr. Mörner attacked the science of climate change, while claiming that he is mission on Sea Level Change of INQUA (International Union for Quaternary Research).

I am writing to inform you that Dr. Mörner has misrepresented his position with INQUA. Dr. Mörner was President of the Commission on Sea Level Change until July 2003, but the commission was terminated at that time during a reorganization of the commission structure of INQUA. Dr. Mörner currently has no formal position in INQUA, and I am distressed that he continues to represent himself in his former capacity. Further, INQUA, which is an umbrella organization for hundreds of researchers knowledgeable about past climate, (INQUA) does not subscribe to Mörner’s position on climate change. Nearly all of these researchers agree that humans are modifying Earth’s climate, a position diametrically opposed to Dr. Mörner’s point of view.


John J. Clague
President, INQUA
July 21, 2004
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MFMI 53:10
LM: “And here is another lie. Nils Axel Mörner doing the most thorough investigation of sea level ever done, anywhere... in the Maldives in 2004 and 2007 concluded there’d been no sea level rise in the Maldives in 1,250 years. None!”

Monckton, “the most thorough investigation” ever done?” Seems like a stretch. I did a Google Scholar search for: - "the Maldives" sea level - resulted in 6,760 hits containing a wide assortment of studies that centered on or included the Maldive Islands. To claim that one person in a few seasons has learned more than this wide assortment of studies seems extreme.

For instance, what about the the likes of the National Tidal Centre - Australian Bureau of Meteorology, with their SEAFRAME stations throughout the southwest Pacific region since the early 1990’s (link to their map):

Merrifield, M.(1), Aarup, T.(2), Allen, A.(3), Aman, A.(4), Caldwell, P.(1), Bradshaw, E.(5), Fernandes, RMS.(6), Hayashibara, H.(7), Hernandez, F.(8), Kilonsky, B.(1), Martin Miguez, B.(2), Mitchum, G.(9), Pérez Gómez, B.(10), Rickards, L.(5), Rosen, D.(11), Schöne, T.(12), Szabados, M.(3), Testut, L.(13), Woodworth, P.(5), Wöppelmann, G.(14), Zavala, J.(15)

(1) University of Hawaii, Department of Oceanography,
(3) NOAA, Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS)
(4) Cocody University, UFR SSMT - LAPA MF, (Cote D`Ivoire),
(5) British Oceanographic Data Centre/Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory,
(6) ) UBI, CGUL, IDL, Rua Marquês d'Ávila e Bolama, 6201-001Covilhã (Portugal),
(7) Japan Meteorological Agency,
(8) Flanders Marine Institute, OOSTENDE (Belgium),
(9) University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(10) Organismo Público Puertos del Estado, Madrid (Spain),
(12) Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ, Potsdam,
(13) Laboratoire d’Oceanographie et de Geophysique Spatiale, Toulouse (France),
(14) LIENSs, CNRS - Universite de La Rochelle, La Rochelle (France),
(15) Universidad Nacional Autonoma Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera,
Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, México D.F (Mexico),

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Incidentally, those monitoring buoys LM claim’s were abandoned. That doesn’t seem to be true either. Look at this 2003 statement from Flinders University, Abelaide:

“In 2003, the University decided to cease the operations of the National Tidal Facility Australia (NTFA). The NTFA fulfills an important national role as it specializes in tidal predictions, sea level monitoring and contemporary marine science issues.

However, as it is not involved in the University’s core teaching and research activities, it was decided that it is more appropriate for the services to be provided by the Commonwealth Government. The operation was transferred to the Commonwealth Government effective from 1 January 2004."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project

“Sponsored by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The project's aim is to help South Pacific Forum member countries to understand the processes, scale and implications of sea level rise and extreme event variability in the region. By means of a network of instruments operating over several decades, the project accurately records variations in long-term sea level and land movement in the South Pacific.

The project is currently in its fourth five year phase. Information about Phase IV of the project can be found on the Project website. There are 12 stations, eleven of these were commissioned between 1992 and 1994, a station at Pohnpei FSM was completed in 2001.”

Their monthly data reports are available via the project website:
And, the data tells the story of a positive trend, contrary to what SPPI and Mr. Monckton claim. Why all this misrepresentation? The thing about the AGW consensus is that it is not the product of scientists. The AGW consensus is the product of the data being gathered from hundreds of independent observation projects.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
MFMI 53:30
LM: “And Mörner found this tree in leaf lying on its side, on the seashore, but still in leaf. He stood it up and took this picture. I’ll tell you why... He went up and asked the locals why there’s a tree on the shore still in leaf, had the sea surged up and swamped it? Oh no, they said, a team of Australian environmentalist has come past, they’d seen the tree there 40 years old at least. They’d realized since it was right by the shore this would be rather good evidence that there had been no sea level rise in all of that 40 years and they knocked the tree down so that no one else would be able to see it. Just their bad luck that like the UN bureaucrats forgetting to add up the bottom of the table, they forgot to take the leaves off."

This is a joke, right? What is a flaky urban legend doing in a science presentation? It doesn’t even make any sense, what does a tree near the seashore tell us about previously lower sea levels?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
From SPPI’s LM blog: “Science ad rem, not politics ad hominem" ... 12/20/9

"Greenland ice is in a bowl surrounded by mountains and that, therefore, changes in ice-mass balance are influenced very little indeed by short-run changes in Arctic temperature. A similar point is also made by Professor Niklas Mörner, the world’s foremost expert on sea level, who reminds me that since 2003 there has been very little sea-level rise, suggesting that reports of substantial loss of ice-mass in Greenland (GRACE) and in Antarctica (British Antarctic Survey) in recent years may be perhaps rather fanciful."

A researcher observed:
“Dr. Mörner has a distinguished publication record in his field, yet he's sneeringly dismissive of researchers working with methods he's not accustomed to using. I'll hazard a guess about why he's so upset about this matter and sees what can only be described as a fairly vast conspiracy among other scientists. Dr. Mörner is a geologist who likes getting up to his elbows in actual material things out in the field, no bad thing. But as well, he appears to have a fundamental mistrust of numerical methods he believes are "sophisticated" in the pejorative sense of the word. He's not comfortable with remote sensing and he's not comfortable with abstractions.

“As an example of how Dr. Mörner's seeming lack of insight into disciplines he does not appear to understand leads him into the weeds, he summarizes research conclusions about Greenland's ice volume trend as "falsification." For me, that's where his credibility on this matter flatlines; referring to the already large and growing body of research into Greenland's ice volume condition as "falsification" is not a persuasive argument.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Regarding the presentation of Climate Change data and information.

During the course my research I came upon the PowerPoint to the
~ “Sea Level Rise - Regional and Global Trends” ~
~ “Oceanobs” 2009 Plenary Paper’s ~
presented in Venice, September 2009 <>
A. Cazenave(1), D.P. Chambers(2), P. Cipollini(3), L.L. Fu(4), J.W. Hurell(5)
M. Merrifield(6), S. Nerem(7), H.P. Plag(8), C.K. Shum(9), J. Willis(4)

1 LEGOS-CNES, Toulouse
2 CSR, Austin, Texas
3 CSR, Austin, Texas
5 Uni
6 University of Hawaii
7 University of Colorado
8 University Nevada
9 Ohio State University

It’s a very nice concise presentation that doesn’t need to resort to God & Country, nor attack other people and ideas. Seems to me the “Oceanobs” presentation honors the time tested scientific way of presenting findings, plus their gleaned lessons, to the best of the researchers ability, then leaving it for the audience to digest and weigh. Please check it out at oceanobs09.net

You promise your audience to present the most up to date scientific information, yet you leave out all the important papers dealing with sea level rise.
Then, you act as though no one is cross checking no one else and they’re all bumblers. Yet, read through the abstracts of papers such as...
Donnelly, et al. GRL 2004;
Church, et al. 2006
Church, et al. 2008
Jevrejeva, et al. 2008;
Ablain, et al. 2009
Grinsted, et al. 2009;
Leuliette, et al. 2009;
Llovel, et al. 2010;
This is complicated stuff, data is given and explained, generally including a detailed open self-examination of how that data was gathered, justified and interpreted. Meanwhile, despite your assurances to the contrary, you, Mr. Monckton are up on SPPI’s stage portraying yourself as some mythic hero in a high school play carrying the beacon of truth. Can we get real, the “truth” is not that easily dispensed.

Don’t you get it? The consequences of continued willful ignorance are getting uglier with every passing season. Look out your window at the real dynamic world that’s happening before our eyes... can we start dealing with that instead of clinging to some increasingly bankrupted politico/economic dream?



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I must acknowledge and thank John Cook and recommend his SkepticalScience website. It has a first class, straight forward presentation of climate arguments and the science relating to those arguments. It is a gold mine including hundreds of links to research papers supporting serious discussion, thus facilitating anyone to pursue their own Climate related questions.

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