Climate models should include ocean waves

June 14, 2012
Climate models should include ocean waves

( -- 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: Wind and waves growing across globe: study

Related Stories

Wind and waves growing across globe: study

March 25, 2011

( -- 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

September 27, 2011

( -- 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

September 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 and the National ...

Hurricanes' effects on ocean temperature revisited

March 4, 2010

( -- 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 to do so as the ...

Russian heat wave 'had both manmade and natural causes'

February 22, 2012

( -- 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 waves has increased ...

Recommended for you

Heavy nitrogen molecules reveal planetary-scale tug-of-war

November 17, 2017

Nature whispers its stories in a faint molecular language, and Rice University scientist Laurence Yeung and colleagues can finally tell one of those stories this week, thanks to a one-of-a-kind instrument that allowed them ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.