Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ocean Waves Rising Higher Along Atlantic Coast

Ocean wave heights along the U.S.

East Coast have progressively increased during the summer months-when hurri­canes are most important to wave genera­tion-as shown by analyses of measure­ments taken from three buoys since the 1970s. These analyses, as well as other wave height variations with regard to cli­mate change.
The majority of research regarding global climate change has been concerned with the projected rise in sea level. Considerably less attention has been given to the enhancement of storm intensities and the waves they generate, which could equally impact shores.

In this study, researchers analyzed the waves measured by the three buoys of the National Data Buoy Center locat­ed along the central U.S. Atlantic shore, and one buoy in the Gulf of Mexico. Initially, they had intended to study whether there had been increasing wave heights generated by nor' easters but found no significant change. Summer data showed a different pic­ture. Histograms of the ranges of signifi­cant wave heights measured during the hurricane season show that the most extreme occmTences during the 1996 to 2005 decade were both higher and more common than those of 30 years ago, hav­ing increased from about 7 m to higher than 10 m. The waves recorded by the buoys depended on the annual numbers of hurricanes that followed tracks northward into the central Atlantic, how close their tracks approached the buoys, and the intensities of those hurricanes.

Examinations of the storms that have occurred since 1980 indicate that the primary explanation for the progres­sive increase in wave heights has been an intensification of the hurricanes, fac­toring in an increased numbers of storms. Whatever the ultimate answer, the researchers say that still-greater haz­ards to communities along those coasts will continue.