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Global Trends in Wind Speed and Wave Height

Science  22 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6028, pp. 451-455
DOI: 10.1126/science.1197219

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Abstract

Studies of climate change typically consider measurements or predictions of temperature over extended periods of time. Climate, however, is much more than temperature. Over the oceans, changes in wind speed and the surface gravity waves generated by such winds play an important role. We used a 23-year database of calibrated and validated satellite altimeter measurements to investigate global changes in oceanic wind speed and wave height over this period. We find a general global trend of increasing values of wind speed and, to a lesser degree, wave height, over this period. The rate of increase is greater for extreme events as compared to the mean condition.

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