(p. A17) It is generally thought that sea-level rise accelerates mainly by thermal expansion of sea water, the so-called steric component. But by studying a very short time interval, it is possible to sidestep most of the complications, like “isostatic adjustment” of the shoreline (as continents rise after the overlying ice has melted) and “subsidence” of the shoreline (as ground water and minerals are extracted).
I chose to assess the sea-level trend from 1915-45, when a genuine, independently confirmed warming of approximately 0.5 degree Celsius occurred. I note particularly that sea-level rise is not affected by the warming; it continues at the same rate, 1.8 millimeters a year, according to a 1990 review by Andrew S. Trupin and John Wahr. I therefore conclude–contrary to the general wisdom–that the temperature of sea water has no direct effect on sea-level rise. That means neither does the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide.
This conclusion is worth highlighting: It shows that sea-level rise does not depend on the use of fossil fuels. The evidence should allay fear that the release of additional CO2 will increase sea-level rise.
But there is also good data showing sea levels are in fact rising at a constant rate. The trend has been measured by a network of tidal gauges, many of which have been collecting data for over a century.
The cause of the trend is a puzzle. Physics demands that water expand as its temperature increases. But to keep the rate of rise constant, as observed, expansion of sea water evidently must be offset by something else. What could that be? I conclude that it must be ice accumulation, through evaporation of ocean water, and subsequent precipitation turning into ice. Evidence suggests that accumulation of ice on the Antarctic continent has been offsetting the steric effect for at least several centuries.
For the full commentary, see:
Fred Singer. “The Sea Is Rising, but Not Because of Climate Change; There is nothing we can do about it, except to build dikes and sea walls a little bit higher.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, May 16, 2018): A17.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 15, 2018.)