“What this shows is that in addition to flood risks being amplified by sea level rise, it can also be amplified by the fact that waves are rising,” said Patrick Barnard, a research geologist at the United States Geological Survey. . “That’s a factor we must consider as we plan to create resilient communities in the face of rising — not just sea level but also rising levels during hurricanes.”
Ian Young, a professor of oceanography at the University of Melbourne, in Australia, said that the conclusions of Dr. Bromirski was consistent with previous research using satellite data from the 1980s to study wave height, and helped show that changes occurred over a longer period of time. “There is clearly a long-term trend,” he said.
Those changes were evident earlier this year, when a series of atmospheric rivers hit the West Coast. The severe weather left homes in Santa Cruz, Calif., damaged by flood and wind damage. A few months later, a landslide caused homes in one of Los Angeles County’s wealthiest neighborhoods to collapse into a canyon. And when it comes to waves, a sudden deluge can overwhelm coastal areas, damaging infrastructure and contributing to erosion.
Even pro surfers worry: Bigger isn’t always better.
“If the waves are huge, but it’s stormy and windy with a chop, surfers can’t surf those waves,” Tyler Fox, a big wave surfer in Santa Cruz, said of the conditions. of the ocean that can include many small waves that roughen the surface of the water.
Mr. Fox, 42, has been surfing for more than three decades, and said there are some spots where, at high tide, it’s no longer possible to get in the water. In other places, he said, parts of the cliff have collapsed into the water, creating new hazards. Violent storms can also throw debris from downed trees, houses and other structures into the ocean, he said, “really my sanctuary, a place I love.”