Study: Wind, waves growing across the globe

Posted on 02 April 2011
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Oceanic wind speeds and wave heights have increased significantly during the last quarter-century, according to a new study undertaken by Australian researchers.

"Winds and waves control the flux of energy from the atmosphere to the ocean," said  professor Ian Young. "So an understanding of whether their parameters are changing on a global scale is very important."

In conducting the study, the researchers analyzed satellite data over a 23-year period from 1985-2008.

"We found a general global trend of increasing values of wind speed and, to a lesser degree, wave height over this period. The rate of increase for extreme events was most significant," he said.

The data showed that wind speeds over the majority of the world's oceans increased by 0.25 to 0.5 percent every year. For extremely high winds, speed increased by a yearly average of 0.75 percent.

The global increase in wave height was most significant for extreme waves, with the largest 1 percent increasing by an average of 0.5 percent every year. However, in some parts of the ocean, extreme waves increased by up to 1 percent per year.

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