Prof. Alex Babanin
University of Melbourne
Abstract: Until recently, large-scale models did not explicitly take account of ocean surface
waves which are a process of a much smaller scale. It is, however, becoming obvious
that waves mediate a great number of processes both in the atmospheric boundary
layer and in the upper ocean. In addition, waves can potentially serve as a climate-
change indicator themselves and, together with surface winds have shown
increasing trends globally.
All these issues require knowledge of the wave climate. We will report investigation
of wave climate and its trends by means of satellite observations, and compare with
modelling when available. These include global trends and changes to regional
patterns in space and time.
As a specific example, the wave climate in the Arctic as observed by altimeters will
be presented in more detail. This is an important topic for the Arctic Seas, which are
opening from ice in summer time. Challenges, however, are many as their metocean
environment is more complicated and, in addition to winds and waves, requires
knowledge and understanding of ice properties and its trends. On one hand, no
traditional statistical approach is possible since in the past for most of the Arctic
Ocean there was limited wave activity. Extrapolations of the current trends into the
future are not feasible, because ice cover and wind patterns in the Arctic are
changing. On the other hand, information on the mean and extreme wave properties
is of great importance for oceanographic, meteorological, climate, naval and
maritime applications in the Arctic Seas.