Global Warming is Raising Sea Levels Everywhere: Bad for Humans, Good for Surfing? Here’s Where Waves Are Cranking
In recent years, the advent of global warming affects has accelerated. As carbon increases in the atmosphere, the planet is
In recent years, the advent of global warming affects has accelerated. As carbon increases in the atmosphere, the planet is heating up from man-made causes faster than ever, throwing the delicate ecosystem into disarray.
For many locations, it spells disaster; drought, floods, violent storms and more. But there's one slim silver lining: for those who surf, the sea is bigger and bolder than ever.
Surfing has long been a sport that balances the agility of humankind with the ferocity of nature – a sport that requires courage and humility. If you're looking to hit the waves, CELEB is bringing you the top five places to check out. But bigger waves means more dangerous – so drop in with caution.
Global Warming – Higher Seas, Cranking Waves
As climate change accelerates, so do the changes to the fierce and wild oceans of the world. Sea levels have been rising as polar ice melts, hurricanes and cyclones have been getting stronger – and waves are bigger.
But why does that happen? The Conversation explains, "Ocean waves are generated by winds blowing along the ocean surface. And when the ocean absorbs heat, the sea surface warms, encouraging the warm air over the top of it to rise (this is called convection). This helps spin up atmospheric circulation and winds.
In other words, we come to a cascade of impacts: warmer sea surface temperatures bring about stronger winds, which alter global ocean wave conditions.
Our research shows, in some parts of the world’s oceans, wave power is increasing because of stronger wind energy and the shift of westerly winds towards the poles. This is most noticeable in the tropical regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the subtropical regions of the Indian Ocean.
But not all changes in wave conditions are driven by ocean warming from human-caused climate change. Some areas of the world’s oceans are still more influenced by natural climate variability — such as El Niño and La Niña — than long-term ocean warming.
In general, it appears changes to wave conditions towards the equator are more driven by ocean warming from human-caused climate change, whereas changes to waves towards the poles remain more impacted by natural climate variability."
Waves in the Southern Hemisphere are particularly vulnerable to the changes, so it's unsurprising that several of the best locations to find a cranking wave are there.
Here are the five best places to find monster waves – but buyer beware, they're not for the amateur.
Praia do Norte – Nazaré, Portugal
This location holds Guiness World Records for some of the biggest waves, and with good reason. A natural phenomenon with the perfect storm of conditions, waves at Praia do Norte are sometimes called "surfboard breakers." Surfer Today explains, "The highly disputed giants of Praia do Norte are the result of a combination of four variables: swell refraction, rapid depth reduction, converging waves produced by an underwater canyon, and a local water channel."
Teahupoo – Tahiti, French Polynesia
One of the draws of Teahupoo is the beautiful emerald waters. It looks like the perfect combination between a relaxing vacation in paradise – and the high-octane dream of an adrenaline-seeking surfer. But the deceptively beautiful waters have claimed 5 lives since 2000, so it's only for experienced riders. Teahupoo is considered one of the highest and heaviest wavemakers in the world.
Mavericks – Half Moon Bay, California
Mavericks creates nerve-rattling A-frames with a bonus – shark infested waters. While California is known for good surfing, Mavericks stands out as one of the world's most popular destinations. However, it rattles even the most experienced surfers because the waves break high and fast – so bring a buddy and get ready to bail if you feel out of your depth.
Shipstern Bluff, Australia
At Shipstern, the natural shape of the reef bottom below the waves creates a unique step two-phase wave. That means as a rider is cresting a barrel, they're facing another crest above – making it a one-two punch that can knock out even the most experienced surfer. In addition, the remote location makes it a place for only the most determined to catch a wave.
Cape Town, South Africa
We mentioned shark-infested waters before, but South Africa is the home to the vaunted great whites. Located off Hout Bay near Cape Town, the Dungeons wave is considered Africa's largest. The fast deep movers created along Dungeons often spawn long unbroken waves that fold unexpectedly and can drag a surfer dozens of feet underwater. But if you're up for it, an unbroken ride at Dungeons is the experience of a lifetime.
Choosing to ride these monster waves is not for the faint of heart – or the inexperienced. But if anything good can come out of our precarious balance between hope and chaos, it's a better appreciation for the wild wonder and power that is nature. Surfing is a sport that requires a visceral appreciation of what it means to respect nature's ferocity, and choosing to drop in on the world's biggest waves is a practice of that appreciation.