West Coast waves getting bigger

This article, and one on the CBC last week, have been making news up north, but have gone virtually unnoticed in the press here. The science is showing change, no one can be totally sure why, but the results will be higher costs for us as taxpayers to protect roads and communities on the coast from wave action, especially at high tide.

2/8 Victoria Times Colonist
By Judith Lavoie, Victoria Times Colonist

VICTORIA — West Coast waves are getting bigger, meaning greater threats of flooding or coastal erosion during storms, according to a new study.

The research, using data from buoys that have been in place off the coast of Oregon since the 1970s, was published in the journal Coastal Engineering.

Scientists from Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries found coastal waves have been increasing by about 2.5 centimetres a year and storm waves by 10 centimetres a year. The difference in storm waves translates to a three-metre rise from 30 years ago.

But the biggest difference will be seen in projected 100-year wave events, said Peter Ruggiero, assistant professor in the university’s department of geosciences and one of the study’s authors.

The highest waves might now reach 15 metres compared with 10 metres in 1996, the study said.

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