Oceanic wind speeds and wave heights have increased significantly over the last quarter of a century. So it seems that things in the ocean are getting tougher. Wind and waves really are getting bigger and stronger.
An increase in average wind speeds blowing over the world’s oceans over the past quarter-century have generated higher waves and rougher seas, and researchers said those increased wind speeds could lead to more water vapor in the air, providing added moisture for rain and potentially increasing rainfall.
In a study published online in the journal Science on Thursday, researchers led by Ian Young of Swinburne University of Technology in Australia said the increased wind speed averages could compound any increase from global warming. They added that over a 23-year period, average wind speed over the oceans rose by 0.25 percent per year.
The researchers noted that the proportion of increase in wave height was less than for wind speed, while the increase for extreme winds was more than for average winds. They said that higher winds are not necessarily the result of global warming.
"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."said Professor Young.
The data showed that wind speeds over the majority of the world's oceans increased by 0.25 to 0.5 per cent every year.
However, when it came to extremely high winds, the speed increased by a yearly average of 0.75 per cent.
But in some parts of the ocean, extreme waves increased by up to 1 per cent per annum.
To put that in perspective, Professor Babanin uses the example of wave heights studied off one of Australia's roughest coasts.
"Today, the average height of the top 1 per cent of waves off south-west Australia's coastline is around six metres. That's over one metre higher than in 1985."
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