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Significant increase in wind speeds over past 25 years

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11:13 am
March 28, 2011



posts 456

ANU's new Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young has undertaken a major study that shows that oceanic wind speeds and wave heights have
increased significantly over the last quarter of a century.

Published in Science, the study is the most comprehensive of its
kind ever undertaken.

Other authors include Swinburne University oceanographers Professor Alex
Babanin and Dr Stefan Zieger.

“Careful analysis of satellite data shows that extreme oceanic wind speeds
and ocean wave heights have increased dramatically over the last 23 years,”
Professor Young said.

“Off the southern coast of Australia, the highest one per cent of waves have
increased in height from approximately five metres to almost six metres over
the last 20 years”

“Extreme conditions are where we are seeing the largest increases, but mean
conditions are also going up.

“Extreme wind speeds have increased over most of the globe by approximately
10 per cent over the last 20 years, or 0.5 per cent every year.

“The results have potential impact on the design of coastal buildings and
other structures as well as  shipping. They could also have a profound
effect on the transfer of energy (heat) between the sea and the atmosphere –
one of the great unknowns of climate change.

“Using recently developed satellite data allowed us to investigate trends on
a global scale for the first time. This has really given us a much clearer
picture of what is happening in the world’s oceans.”

The study looked at satellite data over 23 years from 1985 to 2008, and was
funded under an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, with sponsorship
from MetOcean Engineers.

In the context of this study, it would be interesting to know whether there has been a similar increase in wind speeds in Canberra and region over the same period and, if so, what the implications are???

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Significant increase in wind speeds over past 25 years

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