The Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn, as Hurricane Sandy approached on October 29, 2012, is growing larger, driven by an increase in extreme winds.
This is the result of a new study that used 33 years of satellite data to monitor changes in the ocean. The researchers, a team of scientists from the University of Melbourne in Australia, have created the largest wind and wave data database to date, and found that both increased significantly between 1
The most extreme changes involved the fastest winds and highest waves: the upper 10% of the winds increased in speed by 1.5 meters per second, and the upper 10% of the waves increased by 30 cm in the same period. This means an increase of 8% in extreme winds and 5% increase in extreme waves. The results were published on Thursday (April 25) in the journal Science.
"Although increases of 5% and 8% may not seem like much, such changes in our climate, if sustained, will have a significant impact," said Ian Young, one of the study's authors, in a statement.
Most importantly, more intense waves mean an increased risk of flooding in coastal communities and faster erosion of coastal areas. The changes could accelerate the speed at which low-lying regions land under water and accelerate the effects of sea-level rise.
To confirm that these earlier data acquired from many different satellites were correct, the researchers compared the results to decades of data from 80 ocean bombers worldwide. They found that the two datasets were perfectly matched.
The southern hemisphere is experiencing the strongest effects of growing waves, the researchers reported. But people in the northern hemisphere do not get a reprieve.
"These changes have effects that are felt around the world," said Young.
The study, part of an effort to refine global climate models, should be carried out Researchers could also help researchers to understand the interactions between atmosphere and water, which depend in part on the roughness of the waters.
Originally published on Live Science .