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Wind-wave climate changes and their impacts

January 9, 2024

Wind-waves have an important role in Earth system dynamics through air–sea interactions and are key drivers of coastal and offshore hydro-morphodynamics that affect communities, ecosystems, infrastructure and operations. In this Review, we outline historical and projected changes in the wind-wave climate over the world’s oceans, and their impacts. Historical trend analysis is challenging owing to the presence of temporal inhomogeneities from increased numbers and types of assimilated data. Nevertheless, there is general agreement over a consistent historical increase in mean wave height of 1–3 cm yr−1 in the Southern and Arctic Oceans, with extremes increasing by >10 cm yr−1 for the latter. By 2100, mean wave height is projected to rise by 5–10% in the Southern Ocean and eastern tropical South Pacific, and by >100% in the Arctic Ocean. By contrast, reductions in mean wave height up to 10% are expected in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, with regional variability and uncertainty for changes in extremes. Differences between 1.5 °C and warmer worlds reveal the potential benefit of limiting anthropogenic warming. Resolving global-scale climate change impacts on coastal processes and atmospheric–ocean–wave interactions requires a step-up in observational and modeling capabilities, including enhanced spatiotemporal resolution and coverage of observations, more homogeneous data products, multidisciplinary model improvement, and better sampling of uncertainty with larger ensembles.

Publication Year 2024
Title Wind-wave climate changes and their impacts
DOI 10.1038/s43017-023-00502-0
Authors Merce Casas-Prat, Mark Hemer, Guillaume Dodet, Joao Morim, Xiaolan Wang, Nobuhito Mori, Ian Young, Li H. Erikson, Bahareh Kamranzad, Prashant Kumar, Melisa Menendez, Justin Stopa, Yang Feng
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nature Reviews Earth & Environment
Index ID 70251383
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center