Global Warning and Giant Waves

Posted on December 28, 2015

History is replete with examples of devastation wreaked by giant ocean waves. The biggest wave ever recorded was the one that hit Alaska in 1958, after a huge landslide created a tsunami that peaked at 500 meters above sea level. It was more than twice as high as the tallest building in Britain today-Canary Wharf Tower. Scientists know how high it was because the towering wave scraped trees and soil off nearby mountains up to that height.

The Alaska wave is believed to have been a tsunami, caused by a landslide. Italy has been hot by as many as 67 tsunamis in the past 2,000 years, though non with the devastating force of that which killed 230,000 people around the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day 2004.
It is useful to distinguish between tsunamis, that are caused by geological events (such as landslides or earthquakes),and giant waves generated by weather, such as those Hamilton and Lice ride, or the Water deposited on New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.  But it is anticipated that both types will become a lot more common as a result of worldwide global warming.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the oceans now absorb more than 80 per cent of the heat added to the climate system. As the waters heat up, wind velocity increases, storm tracks become more volatile, polar ice and glaciers melt, and sea levels rise.

Everything in the oceans seems to be rising: wave hights,  sea levels, surface temperatures, wind speeds, storm intensities, coastal surges, tsunami risks. ‘ Now is the time to prepare for great floods’, a July 2009 editorial in New Scientist advised. The future of the UK’s coastal cities is in jeopardy due to rising sea levels’, reported Lloyd’s. Similarly, nine out of the world’s largest cities are located on low- lying coastal land.

But this is not new. For centuries, sailors told of the existence of monstrous waves up to 100 feet high that could appear without warning in mid-ocean, against the prevailing current and wave direction, and often in perfectly clear and calm weather. Such waves were said to consist of an almost vertical wall of water preceded by a trough so deep that it was referred to as a ‘hole in the sea’.

Dr Ali Ahmad
Email : [email protected]
Date: 26 December 2015

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