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Waves & surges

A decrease in mean and extreme wave heights are expected by the end of the century.

The magnitude and intensity of storm wave heights are expected to increase.


Observed change

  • Increasing wave heights have been observed over the last 70 years in the North Atlantic with typical winter season trends of increases up to 20 cm per decade, along with a northward displacement of storm tracks.
  • Seasonal variations in wave heights are observed at buoys deployed off the coast of Ireland, however no comprehensive analysis of wave parameters has been carried out on these data.


Projected change

  • Projected changes in wave heights remain uncertain but recent simulations indicate a decrease in average and extreme wave heights by the end of the century;
  • Expected surge levels for events of a 20 to 30-year return period are likely to increase by up to 9cm by 2100.

Climate status report for Ireland 2020, Camaro & Dwyer: climate observations report

The impact of climate change on storm surges over Irish waters, Wang et al.: climate projections report