Nav: Home

Ocean winds and waves have slightly strengthened over last three decades

April 25, 2019

Over the last three decades, wind speeds and wave heights have increased, even if just a little, in most places around the world, with the greatest increases occurring in the Southern Ocean.

The new study reporting these results used global satellite data spanning more than thirty years, from 1985 to 2018. The analysis helps to refine the understanding of how these critical oceanic and atmospheric processes are influenced by the changing climate. Oceanic wind and wave patterns play an important role in a number of environmental and climate systems. Wind over open waters largely defines the roughness of the surface, which can greatly influence the transfer of both energy and carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and ocean. Also, wave heights can affect storm surge levels and coastal flooding during extreme weather events. The ability to determine small changes in global trends of winds and waves using long-term wind and wave records has remained challenging, however. Differences in the instrumentation of ocean buoys limit their ability to provide suitable data and concerns about the consistency of global satellite data have not yet been fully addressed.

Here, Ian Young and Agustinus Ribal took advantage of an extensive satellite database of wind speed and wave heights spanning more than thirty years (1985-2018). The dataset combines measurements from three independent instruments: altimeters (measuring wave height and wind speed), radiometers (measuring wind speed) and scatterometers (measuring wind speed and direction). Analyses of the resulting data show small, yet significant increases in global wind speed and wave heights, particularly during extreme conditions. Young and Ribal also find strong regional variations in these positive trends, with the Southern Ocean exhibiting the most significant increases, while trends in the equatorial Pacific and North Atlantic are much weaker.

According to the authors, the findings were confirmed across each satellite instrument, which suggests no negative impacts caused by inconsistent data or sampling patterns.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Southern Ocean Articles:

A NASA infrared look at the Southern Indian Ocean's 15th tropical cyclone
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone 15S in the Southern Indian Ocean and obtained temperature data on the cloud tops, enabling scientists to see where the strongest part of the storm was located.
International team reports ocean acidification spreading rapidly in Arctic Ocean
Ocean acidification (OA) is spreading rapidly in the western Arctic Ocean in both area and depth, according to new interdisciplinary research reported in Nature Climate Change by a team of international collaborators, including University of Delaware professor Wei-Jun Cai.
Rapid Arctic warming has in the past shifted Southern Ocean winds
Ice core records from the two poles show that during the last ice age, sharp spikes in Arctic temperatures shifted the position of winds around Antarctica.
NASA sees Tropical Cyclone 02S develop in Southern Indian Ocean
NASA's Aqua satellite flew over Tropical Cyclone 02S in the Southern Indian Ocean and infrared imagery showed that the storm had developed some strong thunderstorms.
Atlantic Ocean's slowdown tied to changes in the Southern Hemisphere
Unlike in the movies, and in theories of long-term climate change, the recent slowdown of the Atlantic circulation is not connected with melting of Arctic sea ice and buildup of freshwater near the North Pole.
Ocean fronts attract ocean wanderers -- foraging gannets on the front line
A study led by Plymouth University and the University of Exeter has shown for the first time that seabirds use ocean fronts as an efficient way of foraging.
Freshening of the Southern Ocean
Over the past decades, the northward drift of sea ice surrounding Antarctica has strengthened.
International ocean drilling expedition to understand causes of the Indian Ocean 2004 earthquake
The devastating earthquake that struck North Sumatra and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Boxing Day in 2004 was caused by a slip on a subduction zone plate boundary fault beneath the eastern Indian Ocean.
Antarctic sea ice may be a source of mercury in southern ocean fish and birds
New research has found methylmercury -- a potent neurotoxin - in sea ice in the Southern Ocean.
Field project will track Southern Ocean clouds from a remote island off Antarctica
From a tiny island halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica, scientists hope to learn more about the physics of clouds above the stormy, inhospitable Southern Ocean.

Related Southern Ocean Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...