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experiences and viewpoint as my day unfolds

Archives for the day Monday, August 10th, 2009

Freak Waves

Freak Waves

The so-called freak waves made a major advance in their understanding with the Scientists in the US. These monster waves present a major risk to ships and offshore platforms. A computer simulation developed by oceanographers in the US could help locate where and when these “rogue” phenomena are most likely to occur. The theoretical study shows that coastal areas with variations in water depth and strong currents are hot spots for freak waves. This freak wave is one that measures roughly three times higher than other swells on the sea at any one time. These phenomena can measure up to 18m (60ft) – the height of a six-storey building.

Basically the focal zone is that sandbanks and strong currents may cause waves to change direction and speed. This concentrates wave energy into a single point, which oceanographers call a “wave focal zone”. This zone is like a burning glass, researcher explained, where the light comes in and focuses all the energy on a single point, forming a hot spot. The same happens when a wave travels over, for example, a sandbank, or over a current. The energy is being focused on to a single point.

Understanding where and when freak waves are most likely to occur could assist shipping and navigation in coastal areas. This knowledge could be used for marine weather forecasts and could also inform the design of offshore platforms. Dr Janssen added that the word “freak wave” was unfortunate, as it suggests these types of wave are unexpected. But, he explained, the random nature of ocean waves means that any size of wave can happen at any time.