To Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky
Strong winds drive the biggest waves of the ocean to dizzying heights.
This is the potentially threatening realization of the New Research that has analyzed global wind and wave measurements worth more than 30 years to see how they have changed over time. Researchers at the University of Melbourne behind the paper, published in the journal Science on April 25, say the oversized waves could amplify sea-level effects, leading to frequent flooding and accelerated coastal erosion.
"These changes will have an impact across the globe," said Ian Young, a professor of engineering at the university and co-author of the study, in a statement.
To investigate how the winds are The University studied data from 31
The numbers show a picture of strong winds becoming stronger and big waves, especially in the Southern Ocean Antarctic: Between 1985 and 2018, the fastest winds over the Southern Ocean were 8 percent faster and accelerated about 3.4 miles an hour. Over the same period, these winds drove the highest waves nearly five (or five percent) higher.
Young acknowledged that the changes were minor, but stated that they were still cause for concern. "If the climate has a lasting impact in the future, it will have a significant impact," he said in the statement. The Southern Ocean sets the pace for the South Pacific, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean – and indeed the scientists saw small elevations in the wind speed and wave height to the North Atlantic.
Michael Mann, Professor of Atmospheric Atmospheric Science at Penn State University at State College, said the findings were consistent with his own research on the effects of climate change on the world's oceans. He said that the warming of the oceans could create storms – and the associated winds – more intense.
"There is a risk of extreme winds associated with individual storms and, as a result, major wave heights," he told NBC News MACH in an email.
Young said it was too early to tie faster winds to the warming climate. He added that the increase in wind speeds could be caused by cyclical climate changes, such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, a temperature change in the southern Pacific that occurs every two to seven years.
Whatever their cause The whirlwinds and waves could amplify the effects of climate change and give destructive power to storms that have been fueled by rising oceans. When these power plants hit the shores, they are more likely to cause coastal flooding and erosion. Offshore, they could endanger ships and help break up melting ice sheets.
For Mann, the results fit into a broader history of climate-related extreme weather, including droughts, heatwaves and floods, all of which may have catastrophic consequences. "More extreme weather conditions, wind speeds and wave heights, of course, burden our infrastructure and pose a greater threat to property and life," he said in the email.
Will ocean waves and winds continue to get stronger? No one knows for sure, but ongoing research by Young and his researcher, Melbourne University researcher Agustinus Ribal, could provide an answer. The scientists plan to refine the 40 billion measurements they have compiled to refine climate models so that they can predict future ocean waves.
Additional Reports by David Freeman.
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