Rogue waves hit without warning

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Rogue waves hit without warning

January 04, 2016 - 16:45
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Extreme ocean waves, sometimes called freak or rogue waves can emerge suddenly, being preceded by much smaller waves.

In contrast to what was previously thought rather than seeing a gradual build-up of waves, the rogue wave will come seemingly out of nowhere.

New research from the University of Oxford in collaboration with the University of Western Australia shows that the anecdotal evidence heard from mariners describing "walls of water" coming at them in the open ocean may not be so far from the truth.

A theoretical study into "nonlinear dynamics of wave-groups in random seas" the researchers used mathematical modelling based on non-linear physics. The investigators used hundreds of simulations of random waves to analyse the differences between linear and non-linear wave dynamics.

The modelling demonstrated that tend to have a much broader crest than traditionally predicted by linear theory.

Professor Thomas Adcock, of Oxford's Department of Engineering Science, said: 'The waves we're dealing with here occur in deep water in the open ocean - very different from the waves you'll see if you go to the beach, which is what most people are familiar with. In deep water, where waves are much less regular, you expect a larger wave from time to time.

'All of this means that in a very rough storm, you can't simply assume you'll get a warning before a freak wave hits. Seafarers need to be aware that a large wave may appear out of nowhere.'

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