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Is Global Warming Affecting the Surf?

Belinda Baggs  /  Aug 23, 2007  /  3 Min Read  /  Surfing

2daysbeforefreedomGlobal warming may be a mainstream issue now, but it’s far from being cut and dry. Some people think it’s a myth (read the comments), some think it’s the end of the world and the rest see it as something in between. The scope and complexity of the problem naturally raises more questions than answers.

Y.C. was quoted in an article for Fortune magazine as saying, "We’re getting into the surf market, because it’s never going to snow again, and the waves are going to get bigger and bigger. I see an opportunity." I’ll let you decide how much of that quote is serious and how much is tongue-in-cheek, but the question remains: Is global warming affecting the surf?

Patagonia surf ambassador Belinda Baggs asks this very question in today’s post after witnessing a particularly large storm in her native Australia:

Aggressive, violent, unpredictable, peaceful tranquil, pure. The ocean is an ever-changing façade that has the ability to provide the basis of life and enjoyment for many inhabitants of this earth. The morning surf check has become a daily ritual to most keen enthusiasts. The waves that provide the focus of this ritual have been generated thousands of miles away and sometimes weeks prior. Due to the numerous varying factors that create ocean swells, the erratic change in daily conditions is understandable. But sometimes you wonder…

HolidayweekendI am from Newcastle, Australia. A short while ago I witnessed a monstrousswell created by a storm in the pathway between Australia and theAntarctic, devastate coastlines to the point of beaching a 40,000-tonecoal ship. If in the tropics, this storm would have been categorized asa cyclone. Four days later the swell diminished to a fraction of itsoriginal size and a light offshore breeze allured. Surfers crept out ofthe safety of their homes to get their slice of the action untilfinally there was nothing left to ride.

I would like to discuss a topic that plays on my mind from thisexperience. It’s something that I have thought of before but never feltthe effect as close to home. This topic is one that I regrettably know little about: global warming.As surfers it seems to be having a major effect on our lives. Besidespollution – everything that is created tends to one way or another endup in our oceans – it seems as though global warming is now affectingour surf conditions. Oceans are getting deeper, warmer and apparentlystormier as well. I think of the ocean as my backyard. I am not goingto preach to anyone about what we should be doing to help lessen oureffects on the earth. But I would love to hear any insightfulinformation that one may have on this topic in regards to the ocean.

[Photos: Phil Baggs]

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