View Full Version : Discussion: Satellites Spot Giant Rogue Waves

2004-Jul-21, 04:02 PM
SUMMARY: Scientists now believe that rogue waves - which can reach 30 metres (100 feet) high - are responsible for most of the large ship sinkings on the ocean. The ERS Earth observation satellites from the European Space Agency have spotted several of these elusive monsters, confirming their existence. A team of scientists studied a series of images of the Earth's oceans taken by the ERS satellites over a period of three weeks. In those images they found more than 10 giant waves taller than 25 metres. A new study will track the oceans for 2 years to get a better understanding of how they form, and if they can be predicted.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

2004-Jul-21, 06:59 PM
Thanks for the story. I'd heard of such waves at several times from various sources, but they all had the flavor of flying saucers, bigfoot, and giant squid. I had a friend in the Navy on an aircraft carrier that used to say with all seriousness, to we laughing friends often lacking that characteristic, "that ship was ALMOST big enough to be in the ocean." What floored me, however, was the number, some "200" of big ships recently sunk, wherein rogue waves were on the suspect list of causes. Now I think if I hear of a rogue wave, I shall likely believe it. Although, if the story also says that a UFO was present and dropping something tall and hairy down to the awaiting arms of a giant squid, maybe not.

2004-Jul-21, 09:48 PM
ten in three weeks? how many will they find in two years? it's scary!

when I think of our ancesters braving these waves in small wooden boats to cross the atlantic, I feel lucky mine didn't encounter such monsters!

2004-Jul-21, 11:51 PM
Now that we know they exist, we should stop calling them "rogue." It gives an unnecessary denotation to the wave.

Robbi Luscombe-Newman
2004-Jul-22, 12:45 AM
As an avid surfer and oceanaut I have known about these waves for some time, an aquaintance having experienced one off south africa. What has always intigued me however, is why do they never make landfall?
I have experienced the odd 'freak set' while surfing, but never a single monster...and I cant recall any other surfer telling me anything different.
So do they just go around in circles at sea? Do they dissipate as they approach land?

2004-Jul-22, 01:11 AM
:rolleyes: I have to question this article's claim to over 200 large ships have been sunk over the past 20 years. That is 10 a year or almost one a month. And, no newspaper, TV or Radio has jumped on this information???????? I have a hard time believing that such large ships sink and nothing appears in the media!!
What countries are these ships registered to and what is their cargo? Where in the oceans have these sinkings taken place? And, these large ships are manned by more than a dozen people, right?
I look forward to an answer to my quiry, lol! Have a nice day!

2004-Jul-22, 03:15 AM
Hopefully they'll be able to capture one of these rogue waves alive and get it to talk.

The only way we're going to be able to deal with these things is by fostering a climate of mutual understanding and respect. As long as we call these waves "rogues" and exclude them from the mainstream ocean, they'll remain a destabilizing factor.

Many people look at one of these waves and see an unimaginably terrifying 100-foot wall of devastating force hurtling toward them. I look at that same wave and see... ordinary seawater. Sure, it's frightened, confused and lashing out, but it's ultimately no different from the harmless solution of salt, minerals and H2O which makes up 98% of you and me.

I ask you, what does water have to fear from water?

NEXT WEEK: Who Says Drowning is "Bad"?!: Unmasking Corporate America's Latest Lie

2004-Jul-22, 05:20 AM
Hey, Gnosys (cool name!)... :lol: Yeah, these waves are our friends. :)

These are not abnormal waves. They are normal waves...just not ones that make it to the coast. Nothing confusing, nothing to fear. ;)

2004-Jul-22, 06:44 AM
Whoa. Scary stuff. And here I thought that large ocean liners were unsinkable. Now I find out that two nearly went down in the same week. If a large liner went down it would make headlines everywhere, but fortunately it hasn't happened. It will surely make me think twice before booking my next cruise. The same goes for buying or boarding a yacht and sailing the ocean. It isn't exactly the same as sailing off the edge of the world into oblivion, but not that far off. There be dangerous beasts out there! By the way, everyone on this continent with the possible exception of some native Americans all reached this continent by, you guessed it, boat. So everyone has a little brave seamanship in them somewhere.
Now I understand and appreciate that scene from "The Perfect Storm" where the fishermen go down with their ship at the end. I wouldn't take a job on an oil platform or cargo ship without a good life insurance policy is the most important lesson to be learned, I suppose.
On the other hand the odds of a ship going down from one of these things is probably similar to my airplane crashing that I might be flying on. This is a victory for the value of scientific measurement over word of mouth. One satellite with a few weeks worth of data can bring a myth lasting hundreds of years into hard core reality. I would not get my hopes up for the same thing happening for alien visitors, however.

2004-Jul-23, 04:25 AM
Greg's right, the odds of a ship actually meeting up wit these fiersome waves are not that grate, and while they are quite dengerouse, there is not much to fear, people have sailed the oceans for centuries and up untill recently these waves have been publicly recognized, and also even if they can bring down big oil tankers the odds are not that great since most of them don't grow large and/or powerful enough. I think :unsure:

Land lover
2004-Jul-23, 09:53 AM
I would rather stay on land if you don't mind but as for you brave guys out there go for it....I would like to see photos of these waves. Any suggestions?

2004-Jul-23, 03:04 PM
Gnosys- You're Funny!! :P
Please post more...

One instigator for large waves I've heard of, is landslides (and underwater landslides), but those kind of waves keep on going til they land somewhere.

The other most likely alternative for large waves that appear and then dissipate is that they are the result of wave interference patterns. If two intersecting waves meet and their crests are in phase, the resulting height is the sum of the two waves, and their troughs would be just as deep.

When you have literally dozens of waveforms moving across the oceans, odds are that eventually(frequently?), a lot of crests will converge in an area and you get a really big additive effect.

So, try not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you won't get sunk.

Also, being more familiar with natural phenomenom like this should give us all another good reason to be more efficient and conserving with our energy use, so that we don't need to have so many tankers and oil platforms out there in the wave shooting gallery. :o

2004-Jul-26, 02:43 PM
If it can spot rogue waves, can it spot mad surfers trying to ride them :blink:

2004-Jul-26, 09:06 PM
I got a kick out that 'mutual understanding' from gnosys. The story I used to hear about "rogue waves" was simply that extraordinarily large waves would sometimes sweep through a piece of sea. Several years ago I took my family to Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. There was a place that sloped down to the water from the cliff near a coastal street. It was essentially a piece of sandstone that the waves had eroded under it until it fell. At the top was a place mere inches away from the meandering line of cliffs, so we could casually step across. I fed popcorn to the birds and my son began to literally taunt the waves. He would take a small rock or some washed up debris and throw it into the sea after a wave had crashed, then rush out as if chasing away the water. Sometimes he would stop and wag his rear-end in taunting the waves, then hop out of the way when he saw one coming to shore. We thought that hilarious for quite a while. But then I noticed a wave coming that was distinctly bigger than the others (but definitely far, far below the measures of the "rogue waves" in that news story). I called my son to come up and join me as I tried to get my wife to walk a little higher on the rock. She balked, busy watching the birds and sparkles of the sunlight on the sea. My son was having way too much fun, so he was not interested in joining us just then. Seeing that the wave was definitely and distinctly much taller than those we experienced before, I stepped a little higher on the rock and called my family for a group hug and then we would talk about where to go for dinner. So they came, though not fast enough for me to move us as high up the rock as I had hoped. The chasm between the rock and the standing cliff was something close to 6 feet apart where we were standing, and the drop was considerably further. They were still smiling broadly and fairly giggling when I said, "Whatever you do, don't step back" (or they might go over the cliff). I had my back to the sea in order to break the wave as I held them. You should have seen the change in their faces as they saw that big wave roll up that big rock and sweep far, far higher than any other wave we had seen. It lifted us up and off our feet but only moved us about a foot closer to the cliff. We ran laughing up the rock and back onto the solid ground, just dripping, soaking wet. My son was incredulous, "Where did that come from?" We laughed and said the waves thought you were rude to wag your rear at them. We survived okay, but it gave me nightmares for years after to think that I almost lost my family that day and if I had but acted more firmly just a few seconds quicker we wouldn't have been so close to being washed off that rock. In the words of one of the surfers who were deposited nearby, which was far from where he was surfing just a couple of minutes before, "Dude! What was that!?!"

2004-Aug-23, 01:29 PM
go to see this site: rogue wave are real science: http://www.ifremer.fr/metocean/conferences.../wk.htm#Day%201 (http://www.ifremer.fr/metocean/conferences/wk.htm#Day%201)

2004-Aug-25, 05:14 AM
Hi Guest! Nice Link...I clicked on the picture at the top and read in amazement.

Iswinford...You did a good thing! That was very clear thinking on your part, finding a way to motivate everyone to safety, without a panic. Should I get a Space Station or Mars Base built, you're invited! And, you can bring the little wave-taunter along. :D

2004-Aug-25, 03:00 PM
In other threads I have been developing the concept of a shmoo field as an explanation of our observable chunk of the universe. In the concept I posit that what we have been calling the big bang resulted from the sudden release of enormous energy from a region where the random occurence of energy densities exceeded some threshold above which the non-Euclidean contortions of Euclidean 3-space were pressed beyong their capacity to contain the energy concentration. NASAs observation of the waves of enormous size (outriders) serve as a crude schematic of how the shmoo field brokered the big bang. It'll get more interesting than we can stand when an in-phase confluence of these outriders occurs.

Has anyone slogged through the references to determine the wave length of such waves? The set of slopes of the crest of waves could be very important to shipping.

2004-Sep-02, 01:27 AM
There was a documentary about this shown on New Zealand TV about 10 months ago. I've forgotten the name of it. :( It was made by the BBC & had some satellite data in it. Their answer to, the puzzle, why these waves exist was using a version of Schrodinger's equation. I don't think it help to predict the phenomenon though. Still, it convinced me that these waves are real & not just fishermen tales.