Study Reveals Growing Hazard from Tropical Cyclone-Induced Ocean Waves (Nature)

Study Reveals Growing Hazard from Tropical Cyclone-Induced Ocean Waves

  Thursday, April 25th, 2024 Source: Nature

A recent analysis of tropical cyclone (TC) wave patterns from 1979 to 2022, based on the ERA5 wave reanalysis, reveals alarming trends that may affect coastal safety and insurance policies. The study finds a global increase in both the maximum wave heights and the geographical footprint of TC waves, highlighting a 3.2% and 5.7% increase per decade, respectively. These changes surpass the intensification of TC maximum wind speeds, suggesting that wave hazards may pose a greater future risk than previously anticipated.

Furthermore, the transfer of wave energy from the atmosphere to the ocean has escalated by approximately 8.9% per decade globally, indicating a shift in the energy dynamics of tropical storms. This trend is predominantly driven by the expansion of the wave footprint rather than changes in wind intensity alone. Insurance and risk management sectors must consider these evolving dynamics, as traditional models based on wind speeds may underestimate the potential damage from increasing wave heights and energy.

This study underscores the urgent need for updated risk assessments and insurance models that better reflect the growing impact of TC-induced waves, especially in vulnerable coastal regions. The findings also suggest a pivotal role for technology and improved data analytics in adapting to these changes.

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