Images of Brazil’s Sugarloaf Mountain do not prove sea levels aren’t rising

By: Julia Vella
June 10 2024

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Images of Brazil’s Sugarloaf Mountain do not prove sea levels aren’t rising

Source: Screenshot/Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts

Fact-Check

The Verdict Misleading

A Facebook post showing three images of Brazil’s Sugarloaf Mountain over the past 140 years does not prove that global sea levels are not rising.

Claim ID d8c1cd45

Context

A post circulating on Facebook shows three images of the Pão de Açúcar, or Sugarloaf Mountain, in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro region. The post, which has garnered over 99,000 reactions and 66,000 shares, misleadingly claims that the images show that sea levels have not risen over 140 years. 

In fact

The three images, dated 1880, 1910 and 2020, do not show a significant change in the water level around Brazil's Sugarloaf Mountain. However, zoomed-out images of natural landmarks cannot be used as an accurate representation of whether sea levels have risen over time, as even rises of several inches would not be visible in such a wide view. Logically Facts has fact-checked a claim about another landmark, Plymouth Rock, which has previously been used to make a similar false claim that sea levels are not rising.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce that monitors oceanic conditions globally, the global mean sea level has continuously risen since 1880, increasing by about 21cm since its original mark. It is consistently rising due to melting ice sheets and glaciers and the thermal expansion of seawater due to global warming. Data sources and observations are from satellites and coastal tide gauges, which present highly accurate and precise empirical measurements.

The NOAA also displays specific data from Ilha Fiscal, another island in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro region around nine kilometers from Sugarloaf Mountain. There, sea levels have risen 2.35 millimeters a year between 1963 and 2016, equivalent to a rise of 0.77 feet over a 100-year period. This data has a 95 percent confidence interval, according to the organization. 

Other fact-checking organizations, including Lead Stories and USA Today’s fact-checking team have also checked the images of Brazil’s Sugarloaf Mountain and found them to be false.

The verdict

Global sea levels have risen consistently over the past 140 years. These images do not prove otherwise. We have marked this claim as misleading.

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