Study finds rogue waves are fact, not myth

July 11, 2006

A German scientist says deadly "rogue waves" of 100 feet or higher are more common than thought.

Such enormous waves -- some taller than a 10-story building -- have, in the past, been considered sea tales, together with sightings of mermaids and sea monsters, The New York Times reported. Scientists say such waves might have been responsible for the mysterious sinking of dozens of large ships and the loss of many lives.

Wolfgang Rosenthal, a German scientist who helped the Paris-based European Space Agency pioneer the study of rogue waves by radar satellite, told the Times he estimates that, at any given moment, 10 of the giant waves are churning through the world's oceans -- especially in regions having powerful currents: the Agulhas off South Africa, the Kuroshio off Japan, and the Gulf Stream off the eastern United States.

Rosenthal says the proliferation of radar satellites should make it possible to better understand rogue waves and, perhaps, predict their occurrence.

"There will be warnings, maybe in 10 years," he told the Times. "It should be possible."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Optical rogue waves reveal insight into real ones

Related Stories

Optical rogue waves reveal insight into real ones

February 10, 2016

(Phys.org)—Rogue waves in the middle of the ocean often appear out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly. But in their short lifetimes, they can generate walls of water 15 to 30 meters (50 to 100 feet) high, crashing down ...

'Freak' ocean waves hit without warning, new research shows

December 15, 2015

Mariners have long spoken of 'walls of water' appearing from nowhere in the open seas. But oceanographers have generally disregarded such stories and suggested that rogue waves - enormous surface waves that have attained ...

Lego pirate proves, survives, super rogue wave

April 4, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have used a Lego pirate floating in a fish tank to demonstrate for the first time that so-called ‘super rogue waves’ can come from nowhere in apparently calm seas and engulf ships.

Understanding freak waves

September 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Rogue waves, once considered nothing more than a sailor’s myth, are more predictable than ever thanks to new research from the oceanography team at Swinburne University of Technology.

Rogue wave theory to save ships

July 29, 2015

Physicists have found an explanation for rogue waves in the ocean and hope their theory will lead to devices to warn ships and save lives.

Recommended for you

Long-term picture offers little solace on climate change

February 8, 2016

Climate change projections that look ahead one or two centuries show a rapid rise in temperature and sea level, but say little about the longer picture. Today (Feb. 8, 2016), a study published in Nature Climate Change looks ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.