Climate Change Is Expected to Trigger Extreme Waves and Coastal Erosion

By Ainslie Chandler | June 11, 2020

Climate change is expected to cause stronger storm winds that trigger more extreme waves and increase coastal damage in Australia, the Pacific and South America by the end of the century, new research shows.

Extreme waves could increase in regularity and size by as much as 10% in extensive ocean regions as the planet warms, with the Southern Ocean hardest hit, according to the research, which simulated thousands of storms under different conditions. The research was led by the University of Melbourne’s school of engineering and published in Science Advances.

“An increase in the risk of extreme wave events may be catastrophic, as larger and more frequent storms will cause more flooding and coastline erosion,” according to Professor Ian Young, University of Melbourne infrastructure engineering researcher.

New Zealand’s west coast, Tasmania, the southern tip of South America and parts of the Canadian coastline are among the most at-risk areas. If emissions and the reliance on fossil fuels were cut, the risk would be lowered, the research showed.

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