Friday August 4, 2023


Waves are getting bigger and surf at least 13 feet (about 4 meters) tall is becoming more common off California’s coast as the planet warms, according to innovative new research that tracked the increasing height from historical data gathered over the past 90 years.

Oceanographer Peter Bromirski at Scripps Institution of Oceanography used the unusual method of analyzing seismic records dating back to 1931 to measure the change in wave height.

When waves ricochet off the shore, they collide with incoming waves and cause a ripple of energy through the seafloor that can be picked up by seismographs designed to detect earthquakes. The greater the impact, the taller the wave is.

Until now, scientists relied on a network of buoys by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that collect data on wave height along U.S. coasts, but that data along the California coast only went back to 1980.

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