In a study published January 14 in Nature Communications , researchers report that the energy of ocean waves is increasing worldwide and they have discovered a direct link between ocean warming and increased wave energy.
A wide range of long-term trends and projections bears the imprint of climate change , including rising sea levels, rising global temperatures and declining sea ice. An analysis of the global marine climate to date has identified the increase in wind speed and wave heights in localized areas of the ocean in the high latitudes of both hemispheres. These increases were greater for the most extreme values (e.g., winter waves) than for average conditions. However, global signal changes and the correlation between the localized increase in the height of the waves and global warming remained undetected. The new study focused on the energy contained in ocean waves, which is transmitted from the wind and converted into wave motion. This indicator is called the power wave increases in direct relation to the historical warming of the ocean surface. Warming of the upper layers of the ocean , measured as a tendency to increase of sea surface temperature, influenced the nature of wind worldwide, which in turn increases ocean waves.
"We first defined a global signal about the impact of global warming on wave climate. In fact, since 1948 the power of the waves in the world increased by 0.4 percent per year, and this increase correlates with increases in sea surface temperature both globally and in oceanic regions," said lead author Borja G. Reguero, a researcher from the Institute of marine Sciences, University of California at Santa Cruz. According to co-author Inigo J. Losada, Director of research at the Institute of environmental hydraulics of the University of Cantabria (IHCantabria), where climate change is altering the oceans in a variety of ways, including changes in the atmospheric circulation of the ocean and warming water, where the study was conducted developed.
"This study shows that the power of the global wave can be a potentially valuable indicator of global warming , as well as the concentration of carbon dioxide, sea-level rise in the world or the atmospheric temperature at the Earth's surface," said Lozada.
Understanding how the energy of ocean waves respond to the warming of the ocean has important implications for coastal communities, including the expected impact on infrastructure, coastal cities and small island States. Ocean waves define where people build infrastructure such as ports and harbours, or in need of protection through the shore protection such as breakwaters and dams. Indeed, the wave exposure is one of the main factors of change and coastal flooding, and increasing wave energy its effects can be more serious. The sea level rise will further exacerbate these effects, allowing a greater amount of wave energy reaching the shore. While the study shows long-term trend of increasing wave energy , the consequences of this increase is particularly evident during the most energetic storm seasons, as occurred in the winter of 2013-14 In the North Atlantic, which affected the Western coast of Europe. or a devastating hurricane season in 2017 in the Caribbean, which served as a sharp reminder of the destructive power and economic impact of coastal storms. According to co-author Fernando H. Mendez, associate Professor, University of Cantabria, the consequences of climate change will be especially noticeable on the coast where there are people and oceans.
"Our results show that risk analysis that ignores the changes in power of the waves and the sea level rise, because a single factor may underestimate the impact of climate change and lead to insufficient or maladjustment", he said.
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