Understanding climate-driven impacts on the multivariate global wind-wave climate is paramount to effective offshore/coastal climate adaptation planning. However, the use of single-method ensembles and variations arising from different methodologies has resulted in unquantified uncertainty amongst existing global wave climate projections. Here, assessing the first coherent, community-driven, multi-method ensemble of global wave climate projections, we demonstrate widespread ocean regions with robust changes in annual mean significant wave height and mean wave period of 5–15% and shifts in mean wave direction of 5–15°, under a high-emission scenario. Approximately 50% of the world’s coastline is at risk from wave climate change, with ~40% revealing robust changes in at least two variables. Furthermore, we find that uncertainty in current projections is dominated by climate model-driven uncertainty, and that single-method modelling studies are unable to capture up to ~50% of the total associated uncertainty.
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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on request, or via the COWCLIP data access portal at https://cowclip.org/data-access/.
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This study represents Task 3 of the second phase of COWCLIP (https://cowclip.org/), an international collaborative working group endorsed by the Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology, a partnership between the World Meteorological Organization) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO. We acknowledge the different climate-modelling groups, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison and the World Climate Research Program’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling. We acknowledge ECMWF for availability of ERAI data, and Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System for altimeter wind/wave data, used for model validation. J.M., M.H. and C.T. acknowledge the support of the Australian Government National Environmental Science Program Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub. B.T. and M.W. acknowledge the support of the Regional and Global Climate Modeling Program of the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, through contract No. DE-AC02–05CH11231, and the National Energy Research Supercomputing Center of the LBNL. I.Y. acknowledges ongoing support from the Australian Research Council through grant No. DP160100738, and to the Integrated Marine Observing System. N.M., T.S., A.B. and B.K. acknowledge the support of the TOUGOU Program by MEXT, Japan, JSPS-Kakenhi Program. L.E. acknowledges the support of the US Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Hazards/Resources Program. Ø.B. and O.A. acknowledge the support of the Research Council of Norway through the ExWaMar project through grant No. 256466. We thank all contributors to the COWCLIP project, including C. Appendini (National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico), F. Ardhuin (Ifremer, France), N. Groll (Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Zentrum, Germany), S. Gallagher (Met Éireann, Ireland), S. Gulev (Moscow State University, Russia) and W. Perrie (Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada).
Peer review information: Nature Climate Change thanks Gonéri Le Cozannet and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Supplementary Tables 1–4, Figs. 1–29 and references.