Our world becomes shiny – not in a good way.
New findings published in science this week suggest that in the Southern Ocean, the world's highest waves are now almost one foot higher than they were in 1985. The high walls of the water saw a similar height increases also in parts of other oceans, driving along the backs of faster winds. The new results do not directly link up the raging winds and wild waves with climate change, but there is evidence that they could play a role.
Analyzing the world's waves would be an almost impossible effort for satellites to come online in the 1970s and 1980s. The regular naval and ship dossiers were all scientists had to continue, and especially in the lack of data in the Southern Ocean, where some of the strongest galleries on the planet make the trip very risky.
But the satellite record has opened up a number of ways to analyze winds that run through the open sea and, for example, are high seas. Researchers from Australia and Indonesia used 31 satellite records covering 1985-2018, which measures the height of the wave and the speed and direction of the wind. The results show that the Southern Ocean notes that winds accelerate an average of 2 centimeters per second each year. But the strongest winds increased at twice the rate. The North Pacific and the Indian Ocean also saw an increase in the heaviest winds, albeit at slightly slower rates.
These small changes in the speed of the wind each year also helped the waves to spring to new heights. It can bring joy to surfers when they come to the shore, but higher waves can also make the navigation of the seas a challenge and cause more damage, so not all ten brothers are hanging. And as a matter of course, the Southern Ocean saw the highest wave ever recorded last year. A swelling that is imposed by a strong storm raised a plaque to a height of 78 meters.
Because the study has so many variables and satellite data sets, there is still room for error in the trends it sets. But the initial results seem robust. The data are calibrated with measurements of craft and fit with wave height trends in other studies.
The research does not engage in what causes stronger winds and high waves, but the authors of the study believe that climate change could play a role, even though they do not really have a causal mechanism that is specified by the Guardian. That said, other recent studies show that wave power has increased due to rising ocean temperatures and changes in wind patterns.