Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Wind and waves growing across the globe

by Swinburne University of Technology on 26 Mar 2011
Bernard Stamm (Cheminees Poujoulat), fights to for survival in a Force 10 storm in mountainous seas the Bay of Biscay, the day after the start of the VELUX 5 Oceans solo round the world yacht race. onEdition © http://www.onEdition.com
Oceanic wind speeds and wave heights have increased significantly over the last quarter of a century according to a major new study undertaken by Australian researchers.

The results of the research program – the most comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken – have been published today in the prestigious journal Science.

Studies of climate change typically consider measurements or predictions of temperature over extended periods of time. However this study examined global changes of oceanic wind speed and wave height, which are also important environmental indicators.

It was authored by former Swinburne University Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young, who earlier this month became Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University and Swinburne oceanographers Professor Alex Babanin and Dr Stefan Zieger.

'Winds and waves control the flux of energy from the atmosphere to the ocean,' Professor Young said. 'So an understanding of whether their parameters are changing on a global scale is very important.'

In conducting the study, the researchers analysed satellite data over a 23 year period from 1985 to 2008.

'We found a general global trend of increasing values of wind speed and, to a lesser degree, wave height over this period. The rate of increase for extreme events was most significant.'

The data showed that wind speeds over the majority of the world’s oceans increased by 0.25 to 0.5 per cent every year. For extremely high winds, speed increased by a yearly average of 0.75 per cent.

The global increase in wave height was most significant for extreme waves, with the largest one per cent increasing by an average of 0.5 per cent every year. However in some parts of the ocean, extreme waves increased by up to one per cent per annum.

'For example, today the average height of the top one per cent of waves off south-west Australia’s coastline is around six metres. That’s over one metre higher than in 1985,' Professor Babanin said.

According to Professor Young it was the researchers’ access to satellite data that enabled them to conduct such a comprehensive study.

'Previous attempts to investigate global trends in oceanic wind speed and wave height have relied on visual observations, point measurements or numerical modeling. Due to these limitations, researchers have only been able to examine changes to wind speed and wave height on a regional basis.

'However our study used recently developed satellite altimeter data sets, which enabled us to investigate trends on a global scale. This has really given us a much clearer picture of what is happening in the world’s oceans.'

The study was funded under an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, with sponsorship from MetOcean Swinburne University of Technology Website
North Technology - Southern SparsBakewell-White Yacht DesignMackay Boats

Related Articles

Unreal acts of seamanship
It was a pleasure to watch Kiwi Conrad Coleman cross the finish line to complete his Vendée Globe. It was a pleasure to watch Kiwi Conrad Coleman cross the finish line to complete his Vendée Globe. He lapped the planet without using any kind of fossil fuels; just wind and solar to power an array of instruments as well as the all important (and power hungry) auto-pilot.
Posted today at 12:11 am
Vendée Globe – Slow down, you move too fast
The Dutch skipper has been forced to slow down to attempt to let the gales move away ahead of him in the Bay of Biscay. After the arrival of five skippers last week, there are now only two left at sea this morning: Pieter Heerema and Sébastien Destremau. The Dutch skipper has been forced to slow down to attempt to let the gales move away ahead of him in the Bay of Biscay.
Posted on 27 Feb
Vendée Globe – Why Pieter Heerema has to wait a little while longer
The Dutch skipper has less than 600 miles to go to reach Les Sables d’Olonne but is not likely to finish before Thursday The Dutch skipper has less than 600 miles to go to reach Les Sables d’Olonne, but is not likely to finish before Thursday, when he is expected to take seventeenth place
Posted on 27 Feb
11 boats to race the first ever GC32 Championship
Paul Kohlhoff, who represented Germany in the Nacra 17 catamaran at Rio 2016, is skippering SVB Team Germany Land Rover BAR Academy announced its squad for the 2017 season today. Like last year, the crew here is unusually being led by its bowman, in this case with former shorthanded offshore sailor, Rob Bunce, taking over from Neil Hunter, who has graduated up to the Land Rover BAR America’s Cup sailing team.
Posted on 27 Feb
RORC Caribbean 600 – A totally unique race
Close to 900 sailors from 30 different nations competed in the ninth edition of the RORC's classic offshore race. The 2017 edition will be remembered for highly competitive racing throughout the fleet, with American yachts winning the major prizes. The race was affected by unusual weather conditions, with a low pressure system sending the wind direction spinning through 360º of the compass.
Posted on 27 Feb
Land Rover BAR Academy with big ambitions in Extreme Sailing Series
Land Rover BAR Academy today becomes the final team to join the line-up for the season opener in Muscat Land Rover BAR Academy today becomes the final team to join the line-up for the season opener in Muscat, as it launches its second campaign in the world's leading global Stadium Racing circuit.
Posted on 27 Feb
Oman Air crew eye podium finish in inaugural GC32 Championship
Oman Air will kick start their 2017 season in style as top-class sailing teams from across the globe converge on Muscat A new-look Oman Air will aim to kick start their 2017 season in style as top-class sailing teams from across the globe converge on Muscat, Oman, for the first ever GC32 Championship this week.
Posted on 27 Feb
JJ Giltinan 18fters - 'Magic' levers keep Yamaha competitive in Race 2
Dave McDiarmid and the crew of Yamaha NZ had an end to end win in Sunday's Race 2 of the JJ Giltinan Trophy Dave McDiarmid and the crew of Yamaha NZ had an end to end win in Sunday's Race 2 of the JJ Giltinan Trophy sailed on Sydney harbour. In contrast to the rain-marred first race, the 26 boat fleet from Australia, New Zealand, and the USA raced under clear skies and a 16-20kt southerly wind.
Posted on 27 Feb
2017 RORC Caribbean 600 – More start images by Tim Wright
Tim Wright captured these stunning shots at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600. Tim Wright captured these stunning shots at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 and along the course at St Barths, Barbuda and Redonda.
Posted on 26 Feb
2017 RORC Caribbean 600 start images by Tim Wright
Tim Wright captured these stunning shots at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600. Tim Wright captured these stunning shots at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 and along the course at St Barths, Barbuda and Redonda.
Posted on 26 Feb