QUICK TAKE – Higher Waves, Faster Winds

Global satellites have collected data on ocean waves and wind for more than three decades. There is news: “…the biggest waves … are getting bigger, thanks to faster winds attributed to climate change.” Change is especially pronounced in southern oceans. One geophysicist calls the increase “substantial,” and, says Science magazine, “He is particularly concerned by evidence that the tallest waves are gaining height at the fastest rate. ‘If [those waves hit] at high tide, it could be potentially catastrophic.’”

Weather.Gov image. Ocean surface predictor map, April 28, 2019. SE US.

The geophysicist said, “Higher global temperatures related to climate change are driving an expansion of the tropics—and an increase in wind speed there.”

The article says, “When they [the studies] were done, two trends stood out: Since 1985, average ocean wind speeds in most of the world have increased between 1 centimeter and 2 centimeters per second per year, leading to increases in wave height in many places.”

How far north can the tropics expand toward the Carolinas? What concerns are reasonable for states with ocean borders?