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A team of geophysicists from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, have determined that gigantic ocean waves have been speeding up due to global warming.
These large ocean waves, known as planetary waves, typically span hundreds of kilometers from crest to crest. Having predicted that planetary waves would accelerate as a result of the ocean surface warming, John Fyfe and Oleg Saenko, writing in the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters, modeled the changes to ocean wave patterns over the 20th and 21st centuries to test their hypothesis.
They were surprised to find that global warming had already exerted a measurable effect on the speed of waves. Because satellites had not been monitoring their speeds for long enough, no one had noticed until now. According to the model, the waves will be another 20 to 40% faster compared to pre-industrial speeds by the end of this century."We knew we'd see an effect, but we didn't think it would be significant for at least another two centuries," Fyfe said.
Adding that he believed that the faster waves will have an effect on global weather, he suggested that more research needed to be done to ascertain what the long-term consequences would be.