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Ship-sinking monster waves revealed by ESA satellites
The ship´s mast (foreward right) is 75 feet high, how big is that wave??

Ship-sinking monster waves revealed by ESA satellites

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 21 July 2004: - - Once dismissed as a nautical myth, freakish ocean waves that rise as tall as ten-storey apartment blocks have been accepted as a leading cause of large ship sinkings. Results from ESA´s ERS satellites helped establish the widespread existence of these ´rogue´ waves and are now being used to study their origins.

Rogue waves are believed to be the major cause in many sship sinkings. Mariners who survived such encounters have had remarkable stories to tell. In February 1995 the cruiser liner Queen Elizabeth II met a 29-metre high rogue wave during a hurricane in the North Atlantic that Captain Ronald Warwick described as "a great wall of water… it looked as if we were going into the White Cliffs of Dover."

Damage to ship caused by rogue wave!!

The fact that rogue waves actually take place relatively frequently had major safety and economic implications, since current ships and offshore platforms are built to withstand maximum wave heights of only 15 metres.

In December 2000 the European Union initiated a scientific project called MaxWave to confirm the widespread occurrence of rogue waves, model how they occur and consider their implications for ship and offshore structure design criteria. And as part of MaxWave, data from ESA´s ERS radar satellites were first used to carry out a global rogue wave census.

To read the complete article click here
All photos courtesy European Space Agency

The WaveAtlas

The central goals of the project WaveAtlas are to globally derive and examine sea state information from ERS wavemode data for a period of at least two years in a first step. The result will be a in the climatological atlas showing extreme wave events with special emphasis to the areas of ship accidents due to extreme waves. The atlas will include maps of extreme wave occurrence, wave crest, lengths groupiness and related parameters. The first version of the atlas shall cover a two years period which shall be extended to the whole lifetime of ERS-1/2 as soon as possible. Furthermore, the results of a ENVISAT AO shall be used for future extension.

Read full details on The WaveAtlas

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Suggested/Contributed by Tony Bren, Australia

Big Wave Science - Surfersvillage

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