Stab Magazine | Upsides Of Climate Change: The Waves Are Getting Bigger

Upsides Of Climate Change: The Waves Are Getting Bigger

More wind equals more waves and maybe less complaining from self-centred surfers. 

news // May 5, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

We ain’t here to harp on about climate change. I’m just here to transfer a little knowledge about a positive side-effect of the single biggest issue facing humanity and the rest of the world: the waves are getting bigger!

A year ago the Southern Hemisphere copped it’s biggest ever unbreaking wave (also the last time I used a Point Break image in an article), and now some more evidence has come to light proving that old weathered walking handbag at your local wrong. No the waves weren’t better back in ’89, you just weren’t a jaded old fossil back then, in fact, the waves now are bigger than ever!

A joint study between the University of Melbourne and University of Hasanuddin (Indonesia) has concluded wave heights have grown an average of 5 percent since 1985.

“Global satellite data are analyzed to determine trends in oceanic wind speed and wave height over the 33-year period 1985 to 2018. The analysis uses an extensive database obtained from a total of 31 satellite missions comprising three independent instruments—altimeters, radiometers and scatterometers. The analysis shows small increases in mean wind speed and wave height over this period, with stronger increases in extreme conditions (90th percentiles).” Reads the paper’s abstract.

The experiment used over 4 million data points and found that wave heights, on average, have climbed around a foot (30-odd centimetres). As Swellnet pointed out, these averages are even higher in the most extreme regions; in some regions, such as parts of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, wave heights rose an average of 10 percent. The data was also crosschecked against 80 buoys, which confirmed wave height increases of this magnitude.

Imagine another foot on this. Christo! Photo: Fred Pompermayer

As expected, these wave heights are as a result of increasing winds. On average in the Southern Ocean, wind speeds since 1985 have jumped around 8-percent. 

At this stage the author’s, Young and Ribal, have not laid out their predictions for future trends. They are however currently reanalysing those 4-million odd data points to refine their climatic models and lay down some predictions for the future.

Increasing winds and wave heights might be catastrophic for coastal erosion and seaside homes, but hey, at least the waves are getting a little sizier!

p.s. I wish these stats were translating to Australia’s East Coast right now, maybe my car been broken down has something to do with it, but I haven’t touched a board in weeks!

p.p.s sorry if this article is a little brief, I lost a much longer (and maybe less shit) version of this article an hour ago and bashed this out as a supplement. 


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