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25 Mar 2011: Wind Speeds Increasing
On World’s Oceans, Study Says

Average wind speeds and wave heights have been rising on the world’s oceans over the last quarter century, a trend that could portend more intense storms, hurricanes, and cyclones, according to a new study. Using satellite altimeter data from 1985 to 2008, Australian researchers calculated that wind speeds increased 0.25 to 0.5 percent per year, and overall had increased 5 to 10 percent during that time. The most pronounced increases were observed during extreme wind events — in comparison with mean conditions — which increased about 0.75 percent annually, according to the study, published in the journal Science. Ian Young, a professor at the Australian National University at Canberra and lead author of the study, said it is unclear whether it is a temporary phenomenon or the result of global climate change, although he added, “If we have oceans that are warming, that energy could feed storms, which increase wind speeds and wave heights.”


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