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Huge 20-meter 'rogue waves' are actually real

Posted on Saturday, 13 May, 2017 | Comment icon 9 comments

Rogue waves can appear out of nowhere. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Brocken Inaglory
Recent research has shown that massive waves can appear out of the blue with surprising regularity.
For centuries, mariners have told tales of ships being swallowed up by enormous waves that can rise up out of nowhere before disappearing again just as quickly.

Until relatively recently these accounts were generally dismissed as mere tales, but in the 1950s the idea started to be taken more seriously after scientists suggested that it was actually possible for such waves to occur, albeit once every 30,000 years or so.

In December 1978 however, a distress call was picked up from a German cargo ship in the mid-Atlantic. The ship itself was never found, but it seemed that something unexpected had befallen it.

By analyzing the damage sustained by one of the vessel's lifeboats, scientists determined that the ship had been struck by an extreme force - most likely due to a collision with a huge wave.

Then in 1995, the Draupner oil platform off the coast of Norway, which had been subjected to hurricane winds, was unexpectedly struck by an enormous 26-meter wave.

The final nail in the coffin for any remaining skepticism concerning rogue waves occurred in 2003 when scientists at the European Union's MAXWAVE project studied thousands of satellite images over a 3-week period and found at least 10 waves exceeding 25 meters in height.

Rogue waves, it seems, are neither fictional nor rare and actually occur with alarming regularity.

Source: | Comments (9)

Tags: Rogue Waves

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by oldrover on 12 May, 2017, 22:09
Very interesting subject. I remember the 'Horizon' episode from years back. It always fascinates me.
Comment icon #2 Posted by jarjarbinks on 13 May, 2017, 16:04
Imagine being on the deck and watching that 26meters wave coming your way...
Comment icon #3 Posted by coolguy on 14 May, 2017, 2:12
The queen mary was allmost sunk by a rouge wave carrying troops over in world war 2
Comment icon #4 Posted by Still Waters on 14 May, 2017, 11:26
Thatrogue wave may have been up to28 metres tall according to this article -
Comment icon #5 Posted by little_dreamer on 14 May, 2017, 13:12
The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 was said to be 50 feet high in certain areas. Though I would guess that it's not the height so much - just the sheer volume and force of water that caused the most problems. "A tsunami may be less than a foot (30 centimeters) in height on the surface of the open ocean, which is why they are not noticed by sailors. But the powerful pulse of energy travels rapidly through the ocean at hundreds of miles per hour. Once a tsunami reaches shallow water near the coast it is slowed down. The top of the wave moves faster than the bottom, causing the sea to rise dramati... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Merc14 on 14 May, 2017, 16:35
Although there are two main conflicting theories apparently they have found that some areas of ocean are more prone to creating these waves than others: Using satellite imagery, it became obvious the there are certain areas around the globe that are more prone to Rogue Wave activity. Places where ocean currents meet waves that travel at opposite directions are especially dangerous. Those areas were quickly removed from shipping lanes listings. ERS-2Satelliteimage of a 29.8 meterwave [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by coolguy on 15 May, 2017, 3:29
Thanks for link stillwaters
Comment icon #8 Posted by kartikg on 15 May, 2017, 8:25
wowwouldlike toseevideosofthese waves.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Myles on 15 May, 2017, 12:47
As a novice, this seems hard to believe. - travels rapidly through the ocean at hundreds of miles per hour I'm not saying it is wrong, just that it is hard to believe. That would be over 200 miles per hour, at least.

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