Environment

Climate change may be breeding more powerful ocean waves

Climate change may be breeding...
The study examined the energy contained in ocean waves
The study examined the energy contained in ocean waves
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The study examined the energy contained in ocean waves
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The study examined the energy contained in ocean waves

The power of ocean waves is getting a significant boost from human-made climate change, according to new study. Gaining a greater understanding of how Earth's wave climate is changing could help authorities mitigate some of the damaging predicted effects of global warming.

In 2019, numerous scientific studies and reports warned of the dangers posed by anthropogenic climate change, highlighting the devastation that will most likely befall us should we as a species fail to fundamentally alter almost every aspect of society.

In the coming decades, climate scientists are predicting food and water shortages, the easier spread of mosquito-borne diseases including malaria and dengue fever, and an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events such as deadly heatwaves. These are just a few examples of the grim challenges humanity may be faced with on dry land, but the threats posed by climate change will resonate far beyond the shoreline.

Already, ocean acidity is on the rise, destroying coral reefs. At the same time global warming has accelerated the melting of Earth's polar ice caps and glaciers, which in turn is contributing to a rise in global sea level.

According to a new study, global warming could also be fuelling a gradual but constant increase in the power of ocean waves.

An international group of scientists set out to analyze the relationship between the rise in sea-surface temperature due to global warming over recent decades, and the amount of energy contained in surface waves. The latter is quantified using a metric known as wave power, which essentially measures the amount of energy transferred from winds interacting with the ocean, which is subsequently converted into wave motion.

This relationship is important, as the rising sea temperatures are thought to have influenced global wind patterns, and so altered how they interact with the ocean. The researchers analyzed historical wind-wave and sea-surface temperature data spanning the years between 1948 – 2017.

The results of the study revealed a direct association between ocean warming and wave power, the latter of which was found to have increased across the globe year on year at a rate of 0.4 percent since 1948.

"This study shows that the global wave power can be a potentially valuable indicator of global warming, similarly to carbon dioxide concentration, the global sea level rise, or the global surface atmospheric temperature," states director of research at the Environmental Hydraulics Institute at Spain's University of Cantabria, and co-author of the new study, Inigo J. Losada.

Wind-generated waves play a major role in sculpting coastlines. Alongside creating headlands, bays and numerous other features, they also have a significant influence over coastal flooding events. The authors of the new study hope that their research will help provide a more complete understanding of the dangers that will be faced by coastal communities in the coming decades. This in turn could help governments protect at risk populations and infrastructure such as ports and harbors by building coastal defences.

"Our results indicate that risk analysis neglecting the changes in wave power and having sea level rise as the only driver may underestimate the consequences of climate change and result in insufficient or maladaptation," comments co-author Fernando J. Méndez, associate professor at the Universidad de Cantabria

Wave power could potentially be used by climate scientists alongside other measures of climate change, such as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

A paper detailing the findings has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: University of California, Santa Cruz

9 comments
BartyLobethal
In before the head-in-the-sand crowd. Thank you for continuing to post these articles.
highlandboy
Looking good for wave generated power. A free .5% pa increase at no cost other than building the system strong enough.
aki009
Another report funded by the Church of Man Made Global Warming. It's a good thing these are just predictions from CMMGW. Based on their gospel over the past 15 years, polar bears should now be extinct, the Arctic ocean should be ice free, massive Hurricanes should have wiped Florida and many islands off the face of the earth, and our children should no longer know first hand what snow is.
Nobody
Increased 0.4 % mmmmmmm In all my years of sailing the oceans and Great Lakes, I don't remember ever seeing anyone measuring wave power anywhere. This is another case of too many variables and weighing them correctly. And after working with scientific measuring devices for years + or - 2% accuracy is typical. So 0.4% doesn't mean much and is within measurement error. I am more than a little aware of ocean waves and would estimate there are well over 200 common types. Add to this constructive and destructive interference of waves traveling in different directions and you get some interesting fluctuations. Seeing waves rear up 20 feet higher than your boat and suddenly disappearing will take your breath away. Wind with or against currents can also create some interesting effects such as stacking. Six foot rolling waves are gentle enough to canoe on but six foot wind driven waves can beat a small boat to pieces. Water depth and bottom contour also throw in a host of variables. If this is an effect of global warming, wave power won't be the problem. A change in the ocean currents will. Shut down the Gulf Stream and we will likely enter the next ice age rather quickly. Who wrote this? A sailor? A scientist? No. A law school graduate.
aksdad
More statistical voodoo masquerading as science. There is no global measure of wave power, certainly not going back to 1948. There are satellite instruments being used to calculate global sea levels, but they have only been measuring since 1979. Have you ever noticed that almost all the dire "predictions" of climate apocalypse come from computer-generated climate models? And the few that are derived from measurements of physical phenomena are either generated from torturing the data or misrepresenting the context? (Antarctica is losing 250 billion tons of ice per year!? Oh, it's only increasing sea level rise by a fraction of a millimeter. Yawn.)
piperTom
You know what else Global Warming causes? It allows politicians to divert money to their cronies. What a bonanza! That's why every slip-shod "scientist" with a half-baked theory can get funding.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
The wind is driven by temperature gradients, which will decrease as the ice melts and nightime lows rise. The temperature will rise and wind speed decrease as more wind power comes into use.
JustJim
Just more poorly researched C.A.C.A. (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alteration)
ljaques
OhMyGodWereAllGonnaDieAgainandAgainAgain! JustJim got it right in one. (Well, all but Barty did so far.) I was looking at a picture yesterday, taken in 1902 of the Boardwalk in Joisey. Curious to see if the beach was gone yet from our AGWK, I googled it and, sure enough, the beach seems just as wide (far from the water) as it was over 100 years ago. And, yes, googlinit was more scientific than these voodoo priests hooting AGWK. (Anthromorphic Global Warming, Kumbaya. Don't forget to use the kumbaya because it's part of their alarmist religious prayer.)