Climate models should include ocean waves

Jun 14, 2012
Climate models should include ocean waves

(Phys.org) -- A new field study by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology suggests that the effect of wave activity on oceans should be incorporated in long term climate and weather prediction models.

Mixing of the upper ocean directly affects the air-sea exchange of heat, momentum and gases, but currently wave physics exists only as a remote factor in most climate models.

"Large waves that occur in and cyclones, can contribute in mixing a wider layer of the upper ocean with the cooler deeper parts, exchanging heat and carbon dioxide with the atmosphere which affects weather and climate," said lead researcher Dr. Alessandro Toffoli from Swinburne's Centre for Ocean Engineering, Science and Technology.

The study analyzed oceanographic data supplied by Woodside Energy Ltd from the North Rankin A Gas Platform over the North-West Shelf about 135 kilometres off the coast of Australia between January and April 2006.

The period includes six , whose wind speed at the location was above 10 metres per second and maximum significant were greater than three meters.

The study found that during summer periods the mixed layer depth and its variability is strongly affected by the injection of wave-induced turbulence, especially during cyclone seasons.

The analysis of wave activity confirms theoretical modelling that the rapid intensification of wave activity in tropical cyclones forces the production of wave-induced turbulence twice as deep as the average mixed layer depth, producing a quick and substantial deepening of the latter.

"Right now small-scale wave physics and large-scale climate modelling exist separately," said Professor Alexander Babanin, Director of the Centre for , Science and Technology. To improve prediction, wave modelling should be incorporated in larger ."

As these integrated models are improved and refined, Professor Babanin hopes they can be used in other oceanographic disciplines like marine biology.

The study has been published online in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Explore further: NASA's HS3 looks Hurricane Edouard in the eye

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wind and waves growing across globe: study

Mar 25, 2011

(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. ...

Understanding freak waves

Sep 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Rogue waves, once considered nothing more than a sailor’s myth, are more predictable than ever thanks to new research from the oceanography team at Swinburne University of Technology.

Mastering the mysteries of the Madden-Julian Oscillation

Sep 13, 2011

Tropical monsoons, cyclones and thunderstorms. Weather patterns around the world are influenced by the MJO. And now, climate scientists can model it, thanks to research from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory ...

Hurricanes' effects on ocean temperature revisited

Mar 04, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The role of hurricanes in the global climate system has gained interest ever since scientists suggested that strong hurricanes have become more frequent in recent decades and might continue ...

Russian heat wave 'had both manmade and natural causes'

Feb 22, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- The heat wave that struck western Russia in summer 2010, causing 55,000 deaths, was caused by a combination of manmade and natural factors. However, the frequency of occurrence of such heat ...

Recommended for you

NASA's HS3 looks Hurricane Edouard in the eye

9 hours ago

NASA and NOAA scientists participating in NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storms Sentinel (HS3) mission used their expert skills, combined with a bit of serendipity on Sept. 17, 2014, to guide the remotely piloted ...

Tropical Storm Rachel dwarfed by developing system 90E

14 hours ago

Tropical Storm Rachel is spinning down west of Mexico's Baja California, and another tropical low pressure area developing off the coast of southwestern Mexico dwarfs the tropical storm. NOAA's GOES-West ...

NASA ocean data shows 'climate dance' of plankton

17 hours ago

The greens and blues of the ocean color from NASA satellite data have provided new insights into how climate and ecosystem processes affect the growth cycles of phytoplankton—microscopic aquatic plants ...

Glaciers in the grand canyon of Mars?

19 hours ago

For decades, planetary geologists have speculated that glaciers might once have crept through Valles Marineris, the 2000-mile-long chasm that constitutes the Grand Canyon of Mars. Using satellite images, ...

NASA support key to glacier mapping efforts

19 hours ago

Thanks in part to support from NASA and the National Science Foundation, scientists have produced the first-ever detailed maps of bedrock beneath glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. This new data will help ...

User comments : 0