Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wind Speeds and Wave Heights Increasing

Professor Ian Young, new Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University was interviewed on ABC Radio "Bush Telegraph" about "Ocean waves and winds increasing" (29/03/2011). This was about research indicating that ocean wind speeds and importantly wave heights have increased over the last 20 years. Professor Young was careful to say that this could not be shown to be due to carbon emissions. The research is in "Global Trends in Wind Speed and Wave Height" (Science, 24 March 2011). I wish my Green ICT students at ANU were as cautious with their claims. ;-)
Studies of climate change typically consider measurements or predictions of temperature over extended periods of time. Climate, however, is much more than temperature. Over the oceans, changes in wind speed and the surface gravity waves generated by such winds play an important role. We used a 23-year database of calibrated and validated satellite altimeter measurements to investigate global changes in oceanic wind speed and wave height over this period. We find a general global trend of increasing values of wind speed and, to a lesser degree, wave height, over this period. The rate of increase is greater for extreme events compared to the mean condition.

From: "Global Trends in Wind Speed and Wave Height", I. R. Young, S. Zieger, and A. V. Babanin, Science, 24 March 2011, DOI: 10.1126/science.1197219

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