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Bad Surfing Is Just The Latest Injustice Of Climate Change

Surf’s down. Changes in ocean currents and beach shape is going to take a toll on waves around the world.

Bad Surfing Is Just The Latest Injustice Of Climate Change
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Bad news for surfers: Climate change could reduce wave heights in a quarter of the world’s ocean. Smaller waves: less fun.

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According to new research, waves could fall 10% in the Atlantic, or an average of 0.9-1.3 feet, and they might fall 5% on the Pacific side.

The paper is published in the Nature Climate Change, and is one of the first to look at how climate change will impact wave dynamics. Up to now, climatologists have concentrated on sea level rise. But understanding how water reaches coastlines could be important as well, if we want to know the damage water might cause.

Lead author Mark Hemer, a researcher with Australia’s science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, says climate change will also cause waves to change direction, shifting surf breaks, and eroding beaches. About 20% of the world’s shoreline is sandy beach that’s most prone to change.

There is some good news for surfers–sort of. Hemer’s model predicts waves will rise in 7% of oceans, and by as much as two feet in some places. But most of that will occur in the Southern Ocean, around the Antarctic. Time to get a warmer wetsuit.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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