There’s a bizarre article in the Wall Street Journal by Fred Singer called, The Sea Is Rising, but Not Because of Climate Change. It’s actually so bonkers that it’s quite hard to know where to start. I’ll give it go, though.
It is generally thought that sea-level rise accelerates mainly by thermal expansion of sea water, the so-called steric component.
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.
The steric component of sea level rise is due to the thermal expansion of sea water. The rate at which it rises depends on the rate at which energy is being added. It doesn’t have to be accelerating for the rise to be due to thermal expansion.However, current sea level rise is not only due to thermal expansion. As the figure on the right shows, sea level is rising due to a combination of thermal expansion, ice loss from Greenland, Antarctica, glaciers and due to terrestrial water storage (TWS).
A key point is that the oceans have, by far, the largest heat capacity of the climate system. Sea level is a very strong indicator that the climate system is accruing energy. The only way this can happen is that there is more energy coming into the system, than going out, and the reason this is happening is because we are dumping CO2, and other greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere, which reduces the outgoing long-wavelength energy flux.The article by Fred Singer then appears to completely contradict itself. After suggesting that sea level rise is not accelerating, he goes on to say
But there is also good data showing sea levels are in fact rising at an accelerating rate.
Well, yes, as the figure on the left (from Hansen et al. (2016)), shows sea level rise is indeed accelerating.
So, sea level is rising and its accelerating, and this is almost entirely due to anthropogenic influences. This is primarily our emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which is producing a planetary energy imbalance that is resulting in the accrual of energy in the climate system. This leads to both thermal expansion of the ocean and the melting of land ice. It can’t really be anything else.