The Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn as Hurricane Sandy approached on October 29,
Credit: Carlos Ayala, Flickr
Ocean waves around the world are larger, caused by an increase in extreme winds.
It is the result of a new study that used 33 years of satellite data to track changes in the ocean. Researchers, a pair of scientists from the University of Melbourne in Australia, built the largest wind and wave data base, and found that both significantly increased between 1985 and 2018.
The most extreme changes include the fastest winds and the highest waves: Top 10% of winds increased at a speed of 4.9 meters per second (1.5 meters per second), and the first 10% of the waves rose to a height of 30 centimeters, in the same period. It is an 8% increase in the speed of extreme winds and an increase of 5% in the height of the extreme waves. The findings were announced on Thursday (April 25th) in the journal Science.
"Although increases of 5% and 8% may not look much, if they take place in the future, such changes in our climate will have great impact," says Ian Young, one of the authors of the study.
Most importantly, they say, more intense waves mean an increased risk of flooding in coastal communities and faster erosion of coastal countries. Changes can accelerate the rate by which deeper regions end up underwater, accelerating the effects of sea-level rise.
To confirm that these past data, taken from many different satellites, were accurate, the researchers compared the findings for decades with data from 80 world ocean swimmers. They found that both databases correspond appropriately.
The Southern hemisphere feels the strongest effects of rising waves, the researchers reported. But people in the Northern Hemisphere do not get any resistance.
"These changes have influences that are felt all over the world," Yang said.
The study, part of efforts to promote global climate models, should also help researchers understand the interactions between the atmosphere and water, which are partly dependent on the roughness of the waters, the authors noted.
Originally published on Science Live.