Wind and waves growing across globe: study

Mar 25, 2011
Wind and waves growing across globe
Photo by Todd Binger

(PhysOrg.com) -- Oceanic wind speeds and wave heights have increased significantly over the last quarter of a century according to a major new study undertaken by ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young.

Published in Science, the study is the most comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken.

Other authors include Swinburne University Professor Alex Babanin and Dr Stefan Zieger.

“Careful analysis of satellite data shows that extreme oceanic and ocean wave heights have increased dramatically over the last 23 years,” Professor Young said.

“Off the southern coast of Australia, the highest one per cent of have increased in height from approximately five metres to almost six metres over the last 20 years”

“Extreme conditions are where we are seeing the largest increases, but mean conditions are also going up.

“Extreme wind speeds have increased over most of the globe by approximately 10 per cent over the last 20 years, or 0.5 per cent every year.

“Extreme wave heights have increased by an average of seven per cent over the last 20 years, or 0.25 per cent a year in equatorial regions and 0.5 per cent a year in higher latitudes.

“The results have potential impact on the design of coastal buildings and other structures as well as shipping. They could also have a profound effect on the transfer of energy (heat) between the sea and the atmosphere – one of the great unknowns of climate change.

“Using recently developed satellite data allowed us to investigate trends on a global scale for the first time. This has really given us a much clearer picture of what is happening in the world’s oceans.”

The study looked at satellite data over 23 years from 1985 to 2008, and was funded under an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, with sponsorship from MetOcean Engineers.

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Provided by Australian National University

4.3 /5 (7 votes)

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AngryMoose
5 / 5 (4) Mar 25, 2011
As a kite surfer I say bring it on :)
antialias
5 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2011
The results have potential impact on the design of coastal buildings and other structures as well as shipping. They could also have a profound effect on the transfer of energy (heat) between the sea and the atmosphere one of the great unknowns of climate change

It also means that people should stop worrying about wind and wave power plants changing gloabl wind/current patterns.
ODesign
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2011
yeah, I was worried about all those wind mills and wave power plants changing wind/current patterns. I'm a fan of wind and water power, but it's ridiculous to think you can take that much energy out of a system and have negligible effects. So this is good news and sometimes taking energy out of a kinetic system can have benefits so maybe a win win.
omatumr
2 / 5 (4) Mar 27, 2011
Thank you, thank you, for useful climate information without all of the usual "fluff" about global warming.

Good science is still appreciated, in climatology and elsewhere.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Chevyzilla
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
Hey guys, the wind turbines don't blow air. They use the wind to turn THEM, they don't blow so there is nothing for them to change. Besides, you actually think that wind turbines even if they did blow air could change the wind currents of the planet. You would need about 100 million of them @ 200ft dia. turning @ 100,000rpms to make your hair flutter on the other side of the planet. Thats like saying if we could have everyone that has a car on the planet to go in the same direction as fast as it could go and you could reverse the rotation of the earth.
PaulieMac
not rated yet Mar 31, 2011
Hey guys, the wind turbines don't blow air. They use the wind to turn THEM, they don't blow so there is nothing for them to change.


Yes; they use the wind to turn them; they are *extracting* kinetic energy from the system.
antialias
not rated yet Mar 31, 2011
So this is good news and sometimes taking energy out of a kinetic system can have benefits so maybe a win win.

Yes.

There are, however, very localized counterexamples where you can take TOO much energy out of the system and actually create detrimental effects. One of these would be the protection of Venice from waves. The protective structures do not convert the waves into usable energy but they 'destroy' the wave energy and thereby the current. This led the sea around Venice to turn into a stagnant puddle of rotting biomass.

So we shouldn't be too concerned about global effects but should make sure that we keep everything nice and decentralized to avoid unwanted local effects.

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