Thursday August 13th, 2009
FREAK WAVE BREAKTHROUGH
Computer technology has helped US scientists in their advancement of understanding what creates ‘freak waves’. These major threats to ships, yachts and offshore platforms have remained a mystery until now.
By studying computer simulations experts have identified hot spots for freak waves. These are mainly coastal areas with large sandbanks and strong currents. The combination of which can cause a concentration of wave energy into a single pont or ‘wave focal zone’. The phenomena can result in the creation of waves up to 60ft tall.
According to researcher Dr Tim Janssen 'In a normal wave field, on average, roughly three waves in every 10,000 are extreme waves… In a focal zone, this number could increase to about three in every 1,000 waves… What's really important about this research, is that it is easy to validate. We have a theory now, a prediction, and we can go to areas and actually measure whether this happens or no… We have tried to be as realistic as we could, but we are a long way away from making a prediction solid enough for people to actually use. However, it might be something to work towards.'
Despite the breakthrough Dr Janssen and his team have stated that the nature of wave formation is caught within the realms of the chaos theory and remain a random phenomenon, which means any size of wave can happen at any time. The research merely pinpoints areas where freak waves are most likely to occur.
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