Hurricane waves hitting Americas grow 20% per decade

The U.S., Mexico and countries in the Caribbean are being battered by hurricane-induced ocean waves that have grown in areal size by 80% over the past 40 years, a new study has found.

The first global trend study of its kind, led by Hohai University in China, investigated the long-term changes in both the height and surface area coverage of global tropical cyclone ocean surface waves since 1979. Published in Nature Communications, the study found the coverage area of ocean waves generated by tropical cyclones increased by nearly 20% (167,000 km2, about the size of Florida State) per decade in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Globally, the area of ocean waves increased by 6% per decade from 1979 to 2022. The maximum height of ocean waves caused by tropical cyclones grew by 3% per decade.

In addition to wave heights and area coverage rising, the study also found that the total wave energy produced by tropical cyclones has increased by 9% per decade globally. The largest increase of 30% per decade was found in the East Pacific and North Atlantic.