Wave height: surfing is affected by climate change

Average wave heights will decrease across 25 percent of the global ocean and increase across 7 percent of the ocean due to climate change.

Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have concluded that climate change will have an impact on wave height near coastal regions.

The initial simulations tell us that the increase of 7 percent in wave height will take place, predominantly in the Southern Ocean.

Also, having in mind that 20 percent of the world's coastlines are sandy beaches, the study reveals that 10 percent of sandy coasts are becoming wider as they build seawards, 70 percent are eroding, and the remaining 20 percent are relatively stable.

"Waves are dominant drivers of coastal change in these sandy environments, and variability and change in the characteristics of surface ocean waves - sea and swell - can far exceed the influences of sea-level rise in such environments," explains Mark Hemer, CSIRO researcher.

With warmer climates, it is still difficult to predict how exactly waves will play a role in coastal changes and, therefore, the risk associated with these new weather patterns is not absolutely clear.

Learn how waves are formed.

Discover the difference between ground swells and wind swells and the effects of shoaling and refraction in wave height.

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