Analyzing The Phenomenon Of Rogue Waves


A research study attempts to explain and predict the rogue waves, which are large, unexpected and dangerous even to large ships and ocean liners.


Rogues waves are relatively larger and spontaneous surface waves that look like walls of water, are often steep-sided with unusually deep troughs.  This real phenomenon is marked by waves which are greater than double the size of surrounding waves and grows to as much as 40 meters in height before disappearing as quickly as they appeared.  These waves are highly unpredictable, and often come unexpectedly from any directions.  They are also called as extreme storm waves, freak or killer waves that can pose a threat even to large ships and ocean liners.

Physicists are trying their hands to find an explanation for these rogue waves in the ocean and keeping their high hope on the devices to warn ships and save lives.  Professor Nail Akhmediev, leader of the research at the Research School of Physics and Engineering has suggested that a device on the mast of a ship can analyze the sea surface and can warn the on board ship for the rogue wave.

These rogue waves can capsize or seriously damage the unlucky ships.  This kind of incident has happened in the Mediterranean Sea to the Cypriot ship Louis Majesty in 2010.  It resulted in the death of two passengers and left fourteen injured.

Professor Akhmediev mentioned that there were about ten rogue waves in the world’s oceans at any moment.  The research study, undertaken by Professor Akhmediev and the team at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering, Dr. Adrian Ankiewich and Ph.D student Amdad Chowdury, has been published in Proceedings of Royal Society A.  The team had collected data from buoys and satellites and analyzed for predicting rogue waves.  This data was also combined with observations of the surrounding ocean from the ship for making the predictions.

The theory also attempts to explain the incidents where freak waves wash away people from beaches.  According to the findings, the rogue waves can sometimes transform into traveling waves known as solitons.  These waves can travel through the ocean like mini-tsunamis until they hit the coastline.

Image Credit: Stuart Hay, ANU

Source: ANU