Albrecht, F., Wahl, T., Jensen, J. and Weisse, R. 2011. Determining sea level change in the German Bight. Ocean Dynamics 61: 2037-2050.
The authors note that changes in global mean sea level (GMSL), as well as the possibility of an accelerating GMSL rise within the last few decades, are of great interest to both science and the public, as well they should be, in light of all the climate-alarmist rhetoric about global warming melting earth's ice caps and flooding the world with multiple meters of water.
What was done
Focusing on regional mean sea level (RMSL) changes in the North Sea and, more precisely, in the German Bight, Albrecht et al. developed an index time series for the RMSL employing two different approaches - one that uses arithmetic means based on all available data for each time step, and one that uses empirical orthogonal functions - after which they analyzed the extent to which the two approaches reveal similarities and differences for that particular part of the planet, basing their work on homogenized annual mean sea level data covering the period 1843-2008 that were acquired by 15 tide gauges, as described and provided by Wahl et al. (2010, 2011).
What was learned
In the words of the four scientists, "both methods produce rather similar results for the time period 1924-2008," suggesting that "regional mean sea level increased at rates between 1.64 and 1.74 mm/year with a 90% confidence range of 0.28 mm/year in each case." As for whether or not there was an acceleration in RMSL rise within the past few decades, they note that in terms of 20-year trends, the most recent rates are "relatively high." However, they report that these rates "are not unusual and that similar rates could also be identified earlier in the record."
What it means
In a concluding statement, Albrecht et al. once again state that "present rates of RMSL rise in the German Bight are relatively high, but are not unusual in the context of historical changes." And they go on to note that "the same conclusion concerning a possible acceleration in the recent past was drawn by Haigh et al. (2009) for the North Sea region of the English Channel."
Haigh, I., Nicholls, R. and Well, N. 2009. Mean sea level trends around the English Channel over the 20th century and their wider context. Continental Shelf Research 29: 2083-2098.
Wahl, T., Jensen, J. and Frank, T. 2010. On analyzing sea level rise in the German Bight since 1884. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 10: 171-179.
Wahl, T., Jensen, J., Frank, T. and Haigh, I.D. 2011. Improved estimates of mean sea level changes in the German Bight over the last 166 years. Ocean Dynamics 61: 701-715.Reviewed 11 April 2012