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Ship-Sinking Monster Waves Revealed

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the hatches-battened-aye-aye-sir dept.

Space 72

vinlud writes "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. ESA writes about it in a story. More information about this phenomena at the website of Karsten Trulsen, Associate Professor at the University of Oslo."

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First post (0, Offtopic)

bungeejumper (469270) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771199)

I got first post !

Re:First post (0, Offtopic)

ImaNumber (754512) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771215)

That's weird...the article was in the "older articles" but not on the main page even though it was just posted...

Re:First post - Must be the new slashdot changes.. (0, Offtopic)

bungeejumper (469270) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771241)

It was a little strange...I thought the webpage download was interrupted...I'd never seen an article page that short before ! I guess I got modded down to score 0 because of my very short reply. Must be the new slashdot changes...someone file a bug !

Clive Cussler... (3, Interesting)

mcSey921 (230169) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771236)

Used a rogue wave in one of his stories (they all run together not sure which one). It's also a leading theory behind the disapearance of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Re:Clive Cussler... (1)

Lord Dreamshaper (696630) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773247)

Or maybe it just could be that 30 years ago, ships didn't have satellite-fed info necessary to make the best decisions for riding out a badass winter storm... theory's criteria of ocean current going against existing storm-created waves likely doesn't apply to Lake Superior... besides, the Ed-Fitz went down in a major storm, no need to explain it away with "freak waves" when the existing waves were dangerous enough...

Superior 1, Fitz 0 (4, Interesting)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773401)

Superior is a big lake, but I doubt that it is either big or deep enough to exhibit the kind of wave phenomena these researchers are investigating. Smaller waves piling up when they hit shallower water or coming from different directions (created by converging winds) would be sufficient to explain the sinking.

FWIW I was travelling recently and saw some posters which appeared to be made from underwater photos of the resting place of the Fitz. Sobering.

Re:Superior 1, Fitz 0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9774373)


Superior is a big lake, but I doubt that it is either big or deep enough to exhibit the kind of wave phenomena these researchers are investigating. Smaller waves piling up when they hit shallower water or coming from different directions (created by converging winds) would be sufficient to explain the sinking.


Lake Superior is an inland sea, all the Great Lakes are inland seas. (why not a sea? It's not salt water), and it's big enough to have significant wave action, unlike some small salt water lakes people insist on calling seas (Dead Sea, Sea of Galilea, Aral Sea, ...)

Re:Clive Cussler... (2, Informative)

Ayaress (662020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9774006)

I live in Michigan, and used to go out on Lake Superior all the time on vacations. It doesn't have these sorts of waves. I've never seen anything over four feet, and that was in a thunderstorm. I've heard of ten and fifteen foot waves during Nor'Easter storms. It does, however, have monster storms, especially in the winter. The Great Lakes, espeically Huron and Superior, have more shipwrecks per water area than the Bermuda Triangle thanks to the Nor'Easters. The Nor'Easter of 1913 alone sank 16 large ships, with combined crews of 1300.

Re:Clive Cussler... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9774747)

I thought I saw a TV show where this ship sank because a couple of the covers on the ore holds weren't completely secured, the latches failed, and the holds started taking on water. Because the ship was loaded with iron ore, it was hard to notice until it was too late...

Re:Clive Cussler... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778636)

They should have noticed when all the ore started rusting!

Only 30m? (2, Interesting)

jacoberrol (561252) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771421)

Bah... Only 30m? That's nothing compared to the Mega Tsunami! [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Only 30m? (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771897)

What is that? 90 feet? Isn't that like a 7-8 story building coming at you?

It's more than enough for me. This is why I fly over the ocean instead of taking cruises.

Re:Only 30m? (2, Interesting)

Ayaress (662020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9774109)

The difference is that Tsunami aren't very big on the open ocean. They barely rock a midsized yacht in deep water, let alone sink a large freigher. They only kick up when they get into shallow water.

Re:Only 30m? (1)

Mishkin (729185) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778449)

A Tsunami is something that geologists can explain and understand. They can be caused by large geological shifts in the ocean floor. These "Rogue Waves" however are still such a mystery.

Like a previous post mentioned the Tsunami at great depth will not appear as a massive wall of water. It will only grow that large as the depth decreases and the wave length starts to shorten while the amplitude increases. The Rogue waves somehow gain that enormous amplitude at mid ocean depths.

I will guess that these could be caused by cross currents. A current deeper in the water actually acting as the shore normally does because it is moving in the opposite direction of the shallow current. That, or a race of deep sea dwelling creatures that can control the waves and sink 2 tankers/transport ships a week to grab some easy resources.
Either one really...

I'm surprised this is news (2, Interesting)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771466)

There's been credible reports of these for years. In "Silent Spring" Racheal Carlson mentioned a something like 125 foot wave that had been observed by reliable observers and measured against the mast of a ship.

Re:I'm surprised this is news (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9771498)

I wonder how reliable can be observers while they are shitting in their pants.

Re:I'm surprised this is news (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#9774066)

I suspect the pants-shitting doesn't occur until sometime after the event. I'm guessing the adrenilin keeps the sphincter tight long enough for an accurate observance.

Re:I'm surprised this is news (2, Funny)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#9774152)

Wouldn't the shat pants in themselves be a reliable indication of the event?

You shouldn't be (2, Insightful)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773423)

Chance sightings and measurements of these brief phenomena are one thing, a global census-by-sampling is quite another.

Re:I'm surprised this is news (2, Interesting)

DillPickle (10473) | more than 10 years ago | (#9775162)

My best friend is retired from Esso Tanker Service, and he swears that one clear day they were underway from Valdize, AK, to Southern California, with a full load of crude oil. He was the helmsman, and on his watch in broad daylite, he observed what he thought was a fog bank approaching head-on to their course. He informed the Captain and they both watched in amazement when the "fog bank" turned out to be a huge wave. He swears that when the wave struck the ship, green water engulfed the wheel-house. He and the skipper had no reason to expect such a wave. I don't remember the height from the water to the wheel-house was, but there was only one wave, and Herb says if they had been hit at an angle, they would have sunk without a trace.The rest of the crew was below deck, or there would have been a real disaster. As it were, the ship only suffered minor damage.

Small swells can make a surfaced submarine dive (4, Interesting)

whoda (569082) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771500)

In the past, there were a few incidents of US Navy submarines spontaneously diving while doing surface transits near the mouth of the San Francisco bay.

There were no deaths, but a few people in various instances got hurt. I recall one person suffering very serious injuries when the submarine went down over 100 feet pretty much instantly.

The cause was finally determined to be that the period of the swells near the Golden Gate bridge caused the distance between the swells to be just less than the submarines total length.

The wave swells would lift the sub up, and then 'drop' the sub as it passed over the wave. Inertia would keep the sub 'dropping' and an un-intentional dive occured.
Since they were rigged for surface operations, they quickly popped back up to the surface.

We had revised operating procedures for transiting near San Francisco after this was discovered.
However, newer submarines are larger, and the period of the swells doesn't match up as nicely with the dimensions of the sub, so it is less of a hazard than it used to be.

Run! It's Godzilla! (4, Funny)

fiftyvolts (642861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771510)

I only glanced at the story and thought "SHIP DESTROYING MONSTER! WTF"

I haven't been amused this much all day.

Re:Run! It's Godzilla! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9772123)

That only happens in the bullshit American version where the CGI is so bad that you need to hide Godzilla from the camera as much as possible (ala the mechanical shark in the original Jaws). The real Godzilla (the Japanese one) saves his attacks for land so that his victims can see it coming. Besides, fire-breath doesn't work so well in water.

It's Godzilla (1)

Trikenstein (571493) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771581)

Deep down
Where it counts
You know it is.

He's out looking for something that is both crunchy and chewy.
And we're all just caught up in his wake.

Google fodder (5, Informative)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771628)

This paragraph that I found on should provide enough information that with a little Google searching a wealth of maritime history and lore about big waves can be found:

A single rogue wave can wreak havoc on even the sturdiest vessels, and our maritime history is littered with the lore and legend of these sea monsters. In 1942, the Queen Mary was struck by a mountainous wave that rolled her over. Fortunately, the ship righted herself and continued on to England. In 1965, the U.S.S. Pittsburgh lost 90 feet of her bow to a rogue wave in the North Pacific. In 1966, while crossing from Lisbon to New York, the S.S. Michelangelo was stuck by an 80 foot wave that tore 30 feet of bulwark off, smashing it into the bridge and first class rooms. Every year, major ocean vessels suffer structural damage while traveling south along the standard route from the Middle East to the United States or Europe.

Re:Google fodder (1)

skelley (526008) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773477)

This info seems to be erroneous. Only this one website [sitnews.org] seems to mention that the Queen Mary rolled. Every other reference I can find refers to the ship rolling a great deal with green water over the deck, but not rolling over.

Re:Google fodder (1)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773880)

I don't think it's erroneous, but it's definitely badly worded. When I was a kid I read about the incident in a book that described the side rails being submerged in the water. Just a little bit more roll would have capsized her. As it was, the bow of the ship was nearly torn off, and she needed repairs when she arrived in port.

I can see how some would consider that sort of thing "rolling over", even though it didn't capsize.

Re:Google fodder (1)

skelley (526008) | more than 10 years ago | (#9774187)

The Queen Mary was notorious for it's problem with rolling. Once source claims Cunard measured a roll of 44 degrees from vertical during one particularly bad storm.

Re:Google fodder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9777492)

it's problem

"its".

Once source

"One".

ESR is studying waves? (0, Troll)

ACNeal (595975) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771658)

I thought the write up said ESR was studying waves.

Maybe he could write a configuration script editor for the waves, and then claim he invented the waves, if no maintainer is ever found, or it ceases to be maintained.

I could have got really rude about him causing the waves, but thought better of it.

New Extreme Sport Prediction (3, Insightful)

4of12 (97621) | more than 10 years ago | (#9772245)


Skiers I know have sometimes gone heli-skiing, getting the copter to drop them onto otherwise hard-to-access mountains with pristine deep powder.

There's probably some surfers that have Been There-Done That ® on Diamond Head in Hawaii that would pay for a chance to be dropped down onto a 25-meter wave.

If the ESA satellite data can be used to find the waves before they disappear, some dudes could be riding some truly radical waves.

Re:New Extreme Sport Prediction (1)

ebrandsberg (75344) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773101)

New exclusion from life insurance policies is also on the way if this happens.

Re:New Extreme Sport Prediction (1)

JohnPM (163131) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773200)

Cool idea but I doubt any of these waves would be ridable. A wave's speed in deep water is proportional to the square-root of it's wavelength, so these big waves are moving pretty fast and they just wouldn't be steep enough to carry you along with them. Also there's good reason to believe they're very short lived.

But no beach for spectators (2, Insightful)

Engineer-Poet (795260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773805)

First, if those waves were moving that fast, they would not be so tall (tsunamis are only inches high as they cross the oceans). Second, the waves would not be dangerous to ships if they were not steep. Third, you could keep up with almost any wave if you used something like a hydrofoil board.

The real problems are that you have to take a boat or aircraft from wave to wave (IF you can forecast them well enough), there is no beach to camp on between waves and no vantage point for spectators. The high costs and difficulty of milking spectators for money makes it unlikely that a sport would develop.

Re:But no beach for spectators (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 10 years ago | (#9775785)

The high costs and difficulty of milking spectators for money makes it unlikely that a sport would develop.

Somehow I think the high fatality rate for spectators wouldn't help much either.

-

Re:But no beach for spectators (1)

JohnPM (163131) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779998)

Tsunamis can move faster than 200 metres per second because they have extremely long wavelengths (hundreds of km). In this case the speed is not related to the wave height at all, only water depth. But say the height was 50m and the wavelenth was 100m, then the speed would be 45kph or about 30mph in deep water. I'm betting that would be too fast to ride a wave of that steepness because the force of gravity down the slope must overcome the air+water resistance. There's a reason large waves in Hawaii can only be ridden as they begin to crest, as on an offshore ridge at Jaws [udel.edu] .

Wave speed function of wavelength primarily (1)

Engineer-Poet (795260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9780579)

In this case the speed is not related to the wave height at all, only water depth.
No, the water depth has little to do it (except by setting limits on the maximum wavelength; when a long-wavelength wave hits shallow water it slows down, piles up and breaks). In deep-water waves the speed is proportional to the square root of the wavelength (for the same reason that both pendulum periods and displacement-hull "hull speeds" are proportional to the square root of the length). You will find the equation for wave speed here. [gsu.edu]

A short-wavelength wave will move slowly in any depth of water; the speed of rogue waves is determined by the same factors as those of other wind-driven waves. The distinguishing feature of "rogue waves" is that they are tall and steep, and the same factors which allow them to do damage make them theoretically amenable to surfing.

Re:Wave speed function of wavelength primarily (1)

JohnPM (163131) | more than 10 years ago | (#9789351)

You're confused as to the definition of shallow and deep water. The water is "shallow" for the purposes of wavespeed calculation when it's less than 1/20 of the wavelength. In a tsunami the wavelength can be around 200km, therefore the water is considered shallow even in open ocean.

To quote this page [utk.edu] :

A tsunami can have a wavelength in excess of 100 km and period on the order of one hour. Because it has such a long wavelength, a tsunami is a shallow-water wave. Shallow-water waves move with a speed equal to the square root of the product of the acceleration of gravity and the water depth.


In any case, discussing tsunamis isn't really relevant to the idea of surfing on a rogue wave. You haven't commented on my figures- 50m high wave, 100m wavelength, 45kph speed- what kind of wave can you ride at this speed? Note that if the slope was 45 degrees, you would actually have to travel down the face at 45*sqrt(2) = 65kph in order to move forwards at 45kph. The steeper the wave the faster this would need be.

Can't be done.

Cheers.

Of course it can be done. (1)

Engineer-Poet (795260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9803912)

You haven't commented on my figures- 50m high wave, 100m wavelength, 45kph speed- what kind of wave can you ride at this speed? Note that if the slope was 45 degrees, you would actually have to travel down the face at 45*sqrt(2) = 65kph in order to move forwards at 45kph. The steeper the wave the faster this would need be.
I couldn't ride any of those, because I can barely get up on a windsurfer. But that doesn't change the facts.

A bicyclist travelling down a much shallower slope can hit speeds upward of 100 kph. A human being in much bulkier clothing will hit a terminal velocity of ~200 kph falling straight down; given that air drag scales as speed squared you would expect a terminal velocity of about 85% of that for a person sliding down a frictionless 45 degree slope. 170 kph is more than twice your figure of 65 kph.

You can say that the slope isn't frictionless, but it's up to you to show that hydrofoils and the like cannot reduce drag sufficiently to allow such a wave to be surfed. Given that it's easy to fly down such a slope in air and the density of water allows the same lift to be generated with much less induced drag, I don't think you'll be able to make your case.

Re:New Extreme Sport Prediction (1)

booch (4157) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773443)

I was thinking the same thing. There's an outstanding $250,000 award for the first person to surf a 100-foot wave [away.com] . The current record is a 70-foot wave [billabongxxl.com] . At these heights, the waves are so fast that they have to get towed in to get onto the waves. Most of the waves in the 50+ foot range have apparently been about 100 miles west of California. The guys that surf them are pretty experienced surfers.

Re:New Extreme Sport Prediction (1)

ViolentGreen (704134) | more than 10 years ago | (#9781928)

The guys that surf them are pretty experienced surfers.

Possibly. They are pretty stupid in my book though.

Re:New Extreme Sport Prediction (1)

praedictus (61731) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773455)

It's been done... Apparently there's some seamounts SW of Cali that generate some monster waves consistently. I've seen pictures, these guys are nuts.
The occasional 3m wave is scary enough for me.

Re:New Extreme Sport Prediction (1)

Thu Anon Coward (162544) | more than 10 years ago | (#9774272)

already been done. don't you remember the Gilligan's Island episode where the guy surfed in and then surfed back out and lost his memory when he reached Hawaii so Gilligan couldn't be rescued once again? :P)

Re:New Extreme Sport Prediction (1)

d-rock (113041) | more than 10 years ago | (#9775517)

I don't know if it will ever be shown again, but our local PBS showed "Extreme":

http://www.extreme70mmfilm.com/surfing.html

Part of it is a big-wave riding set. I believe it plays in some IMAX theaters, still. There's one scene where they're filming the surfers from a helicopter, and there's a shot from the beach of the helicopter actually dipping so far down into the troughs that you can see the rotor. Apparently the pilot was ex-military :)

Derek

Re:New Extreme Sport Prediction (1)

Rick.C (626083) | more than 10 years ago | (#9782188)

If the ESA satellite data can be used to find the waves before they disappear, some dudes could be riding some truly radical waves.

But helicopters are slow, have a relatively short range and would have to be ship-based. No ship is going to want to be anywhere near a monster wave.

So unless they want to bail out of the rear of a B-707 with a parafoil and a surfboard, they'll just have to settle for the video game version.

What's the largest standing wave? (1)

Libertarian_Geek (691416) | more than 10 years ago | (#9782587)

As a kayaker, I wonder how large is the largest standing wave recorded. I'm sure it's flood stage somewhere, maybe a pourover over a parking deck or something.

Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze (1)

Schnake (99890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9789519)

Isn't that the wave that killed Swayze in that surfing movie?

Could they be... (1)

Jesrad (716567) | more than 10 years ago | (#9772936)

solitons [tversu.ru] ?

Why not near coasts? (1)

js7a (579872) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773059)

How come these are never reported near coasts? At the frequency they were detected, you think there would be a tsunami event somewhere every week or so.

I wonder if they're related to undersea methane releases.

Re:Why not near coasts? (2, Insightful)

jerde (23294) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773927)

How come these are never reported near coasts? At the frequency they were detected, you think there would be a tsunami event somewhere every week or so.

My understanding of them is that they aren't a single "wave" traveling along, carrying some large amount of energy. Instead, the appearance of a rogue wave is just a temporary concentration of the local wave energy into one spot.

It's a constructive interference effect, and doesn't last long or travel far. Longer waves move more quickly than shorter waves, so by chance you could get a few different waves that all catch up with each other and produce a temporary HUGE wave in one particular location. The individual waves then drift apart as they move at their different rates.

The whole controversy is the math that goes into predicting how common such a coincidence is. I do not actually understand the math involved, but my guess is there is some effect that makes it easier for the waves to line up with each other to cause the effect. (Sort of like a magnetic attraction -- as the waves pass each other, something helps the phases line up more than a simple linear combination would suggest)

There is an EXCELLENT animation [math.uio.no] (animated GIF, 1.7MB) on the Karsten Trulsen [math.uio.no] site linked to in the story here. It shows how intentionally lined-up waves of different frequencies will all catch up with each other to form a large local wave. It then also shows how that same sequence of waves can be placed in amidst "normal" ocean waves, and the same effect still appears. Very cool to watch.

A tsunami, on the other hand, IS a single, large-energy wave, and is a completely different phenomenon.

- Peter

Re:Why not near coasts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9781109)

Yeah, they are...sorry about that. I shouldn't have had the beans and cabbage before I went snorkelling.

bermuda triangle (2, Interesting)

Lord Dreamshaper (696630) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773168)

Can't remember the author or title, but I read a book that rather methodically debunked Bermuda Triangle stories (i.e. many didn't actually happen in the triangle, occurred in stormy weather, etc.) and found that unexplained disappearances were statistically similar to any other ocean area. These monster waves would go a long way to explaining many previously unexplained disppearances from any area of the ocean, especially the "spooky" way they disappear w/o so much as an SOS Or so the alien abductors would have us believe...

Re:bermuda triangle (1)

Ayaress (662020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9774067)

The Great Lakes are considerably worse, although modern navigation has brought that under control, but there are litterally shipwrecks laying on top of one another from the 1800's and the first half of the 1900's, and there's usually one or two accidents a year even now (a last year, a small cargo ship sank near West Branch, this spring, a number of private boats were lost in and around Saginaw Bay, and so on). There are theories that these sorts of rogue waves sank the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Regina, and any number of other ships, but the most plausible explanation is usually a Nor'Easter. The Great Lakes whip up winter storms that can be stronger than many hurricanes.

Other Space Technology Helps Save Lives (2, Interesting)

rpiquepa (644694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9773749)

Technology developed for space travel has been adapted for uses on Earth for a long time. But today, three articles report that some current customizations can save lives. For example, SPACE.com writes that space technology is entering hospitals [space.com] . It says that a system originally intended to keep clean the space station Mir, and later the International Space Station (ISS), is now used in hospitals to build temporary 'clean rooms' -- virtually bacteria-free -- around patients. And a video infrared camera developed by NASA's JPL to study Earth is being modified into a brain scanning device searching for tumors. Elsewhere, National Geographic is saying that satellites are starting to aid earthquake predictions [nationalgeographic.com] . And of course, these ESA satellites are identifying these 'rogue waves'. You need to read the articles mentioned above to realize how all these bleeding edge technologies can really help us on Earth, but if you have a limited time, please read this summary for selected excerpts and photos [weblogs.com] .

My patent is already pending! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9774114)

Ive already filed my patent application for a Ship-Sinking Monster Wave. So dont even think of using it without payin me my royalties! And by the way if anyone is interested in taking over the world, Ive got some interesting IP you might be interested in licensing.

"Two large ships per week" ?! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9775135)

The article reads:

two large ships sink every week on average

Is that correct ?

Re:"Two large ships per week" ?! (1)

OOO0000OO0O0 (799394) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776603)

I hope not; otherwise the thing about spreading soap in water and making the ships sink because of surface tension may actually be true!!! Everyone run and confiscate all soap, for it may be a terrorist weapon!

Re:"Two large ships per week" ?! (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778759)

It wouldn't surprise me. I watched a documentary on the many sinkings of VLBCs (very large bulk carriers). For reasons that puzzle me, the news rarely covers the sinking of cargo ships. Airplane crashes get much more coverage.

See this list [cargolaw.com] of marine casualties for 2003.

Secrets Revealed! (1)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 10 years ago | (#9775497)

Ship-Sinking Monster Waves Revealed

Shouldn't that read: Ship-Sinking Monster Waves Secrets Revealed

I mean, how are they going to get a book deal otherwise?

Re:Secrets Revealed! (1)

OOO0000OO0O0 (799394) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776627)

You forgot some choice words that would undoubtedly make it a #1 bestseller: "The Mystery of the Extreme Ship Sinking Monster Waves III: Secrets Revealed 2044 Exclusive -=WITH LOW CARBS=-!!!!!!!!!!!"

Re:Secrets Revealed! (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 10 years ago | (#9783075)

You forgot the ultimate words:

"...from Time-Life Books..."

Ship sinking monsters... (1)

Madcapjack (635982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9775682)

GODZILLA!

Did anyone else read (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776612)

... that as a "researcher at the University of Ohio"? I mean, shit, ANY wave is going to be disastrous to someone from there, right?

Re:Did anyone else read (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777767)

A wave in Athens, Ohio is usually called a flash flood.

Non-linear Schrodinger Equation (2, Informative)

div_B (781086) | more than 10 years ago | (#9776665)

There was an excellent doco about this shown here in NZ several months ago. For years people have claimed that their vessel was mangled by a huge wave and have been scoffed at, the reason being that oceanographers have traditionally used a linear model to describe surface waves, which yields a gaussian(?) wave-height distribution, placing all wave heights close to the mean height, and rendering these gargantuan waves extremely improbable. Modelling surfaces waves with a variant of the non-linear schrodinger (aka gross-pitaevskii?) wave equation, which is used to describe many-body quantum systems, such as Bose-Einstein condensates, shows that waves several times larger than the mean wave height will occur.

It seems to me that this is a classic case of people being morons and using simple models, and then refusing to believe that by using their crap approximation they may have missed something important. As Enrico Fermi said many years ago now, "Nowhere in the bible does it state that the laws of nature must be describable linearly!"

Re:Non-linear Schrodinger Equation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9791622)

Non-linear Schrodinger Equation"

Yeah, I saw a similar program on the learning channel a few months ago about rogue waves. Apparently there's a mathematician who's been modeling ocean waves using the 2D-schodinger equations with great success. A quick google could probably find the guy, but I'm too lazy right now.

Re:Non-linear Schrodinger Equation (1)

mikael (484) | more than 10 years ago | (#9812187)

You're probably looking for the paper titled "Physical Mechanisms of the Rogue Wave Phenomenon" [ccsd.cnrs.fr]
by Christian Kharif and Efim Pelinovsky. It includes several photographs of rogue waves, and all the derived mathematical equations.

Perfect Storm (2, Interesting)

bananahammock (595781) | more than 10 years ago | (#9777621)

The book, Perfect Storm, described specific details leading up to the time the now infamous fishing trawler boat disappeared. It described these radio beacons tethered to the sea-bed (IIRC) that provided amongst other data, the height of waves as they passed underneath. One of the last pieces of info from one beacon during the big storm, was it registering a wave around 100 feet high. It was wrenched from its tether and vanished not long afterwards. Made for pretty compelling reading, not to mention how utterly frightening it must have been for those fisherman who died.

Re:Perfect Storm (1)

joper90 (669321) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778508)

they should have turned back.. i knew it as soon as the film started there was going to be some 'wave' trouble.

Ten-storey apartment blocks?!?! (1)

davestar (680893) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778886)

"freakish ocean waves that rise as tall as ten-storey apartment blocks" Wow, that's almost as tall as a ten-storey office building!

The Ninth Wave (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779097)

Here's an interesting alleged first hand account published in Fortean Times
www.forteantimes.com/articles/177_9thwave.s html

Copypasted here for your viewing pleasure:

The Ninth Wave

Over the years, FT has published many first-hand accounts of strange phenomena, but few as terrifying as Gavin Craig's close encounter with a relatively unknown force of nature - a giant wave.

When I saw the killer wave from the bridge of the Cape Horn, I took it for a natural peril; it was only much later that I realized that I might be one of the very few people to have observed a rare marine phenomenon - a monster seiche wave - at close quarters and survived.

When I joined her in 1930, the Cape Horn was an almost new, standard 'three island' ship of the period. The man in charge, Captain ES Wilkie, had commanded the last active square-rigged ship on the British register, and he and I were the only sailing ship men aboard.

The incident happened during a Force 9 or 10 gale in the Pacific, sometime between April and June 1935. We were nearly two weeks out of a Canadian or US west coast port taking sawn lumber to Shanghai. It was blowing hard with 25-ft (7.6m) seas and the phosphorescence given off by the breaking seas provided plenty of light to see by as I made my way over the deck-load towards the bridge. Ahead and to port one could see for a couple of miles, but the horizon was not clearly defined. The temperature was near zero.

About 4:30am, I noticed a change in the regular run of the seas ahead. A larger wave was forming, to judge from the gaps of blue water between the crests. The Chief Mate, Mr McKenzie, had the watch and I drew his attention to it. "Here's a 'ninth wave' bearing down, Mister." He examined it with the glasses, took a bearing from the ship's compass, checked the ship's head, then moved back to the corner window.

A 'ninth wave' is a common seamen's expression, meaning a single wave larger than the others. As I kept my eyes on it, it slowly increased in size. Later, I added: "It's not just one big wave, there are others behind it just as big. I can see their crests breaking here and there." His left hand moved towards the engine telegraph, hesitated and drew back.

By this time the wave had become so huge that I knew it would capsize the ship. No increase in speed would save us now. I was puzzled by the slowness of the advance of the sea; we seemed to be drifting together. Then I noticed that what I had initially taken for wave crests were actually widely-spaced geysers, dancing on the upper surface. These geysers - or whatever they were - were rising to a height of about 20ft (7.6m) and dropping to half that before rising again, sometimes curving against the wind. The upper surface of the sea appeared flat and endless, stretching towards the unseen horizon. By 'flat' I mean there was no defined wave motion; the surface boiled gently in whorls, exactly like the water filling a lock of the Panama Canal.

I knew beyond question that I was a dead man, but the idea didn't seem to worry me unduly. Rather, there was an absence of feeling. Suddenly I was shocked back to the present. I could plainly hear the thumping and rattling of the rocker arms of the main engine and the noise of the big exhaust in the funnel. Then, like the slamming of a watertight door, the wind dropped from a full gale to a calm. I knew what was happening; the height of the sea had cut off the wind, making a temporary lee for the ship. Glancing at the compass, I saw with surprise and delight that the ship's head was coming up to windward. In fits and starts it moved in the right direction. I talked to her: "Hurry 'fore the bastard wind comes back. Do it for me, lover..." stuff like that, but meaning every whispered word.

The bows were only about 30 ft (9m) off the far end of the 'sea' when she rammed it. Then all hell broke loose. I felt the shock as the fo'c's'le head went in and the deck-load forrard tore loose. There was another crunching thud beneath my feet.

Just then - and with incredible speed - the whole face of the wave altered. A curtain of water rose from the sea and enclosed it. Where the existing face was deep and flat, this curtain appeared to be made of joined vertical columns about three ft (90cm) in diameter, uniform and crested, and sloping at the same angle as the great wave behind it. They looked exactly like huge steel pistons coated with oil and passed the wheelhouse windows downwards in about three seconds.

I gripped the wheel harder (for all the good it might do). The forrard windows were struck by a sea that I fully expected to demolish the whole front of the structure. This was strange; it acted like water but didn't have the character of water with force behind it. In that instant - as if a switch had been pressed - the three front windows turned pure white, as if they had turned into three blocks of ice. In the blink of an eye it was gone, and you could see out of them again.
Then the big wave was gone. As the vessel listed heavily to port, I saw a normally big sea pass by us as the water drained from the bridge. The Old Man arrived, much to my relief, and immediately rang the telegraph. He was barefooted in soaked pyjamas and his uniform cap, shivering, for the wind had returned. He had words with the Mate (beyond my hearing), who departed at great speed. Captain Wilkie glanced briefly at the compass and said: "All right Craig. What really happened?"

His question relieved me. It meant the Mate had not seen me alter course to windward without orders. If anything had happened to anyone down below, the sea would get the blame, not me. I answered: "She wouldn't answer her helm, sir; not enough anyway. It was the biggest sea I've ever seen. I've seen some big uns off the Horn, but nothing like this."

After I struck the four bells at the end of the watch, I wanted a good look at the lower bridge. The stanchions on the fore part remained, but all the woodwork except the capping rail had gone. The boats were in perfect order, canvas covers intact. The afterdeck was untouched. I could hardly believe it. The fo'c's'le had been flooded to the level of the upper tier of bunks, but this was quite normal in this run in any sort of weather. Nobody commented about it more than usual; it seemed as if nobody but the Mate and myself had seen what we went through. He never spoke about it afterwards - we never hit it off well, anyway - and neither did I.

I am left with my memory of those critical minutes, like a stretch of film with neither beginning nor end. Contrary to usual storm conditions, visibility was excellent. Wherever one looked, the air was charged with phosphorescence, and the water was alive with it. The prevailing colour of the solid water was a dark blue, with the breaking crests and 'geysers' showing a normal white. When the great wave had passed, the colour of the seas changed back to grey.

The wave appeared independent of the rest of the sea, while the 'geysers' seemed like a great pumping system, raising and lowering the water level within it. If there was any gas involved, it was imperceptible; there was no smell, and the oil lamp lighting the compass card burned steadily through the whole incident.

So what was it? Where did it come from - and where did it go after it left us? Are there 'holes' in the sea as there are said to be 'black holes' in space? I've often wondered. My own conclusion is that it was hollow - a gigantic bubble.

AUTHOR

Gavin Craig died in 1989. At the time of the incident, he was helmsman on the Cape Horn, built in Glasgow in 1929 and owned by Lyle Shipping of Glasgow. Craig's original account appeared in Coast and Country (June 1980) and was reprinted in FT64 by kind permission.

King Waves (1)

pbjones (315127) | more than 10 years ago | (#9785981)

King Waves are reported often in Western Australia where a wave of over 10 metres heigh swamps fishing boats, usually without injury. They seem to occur near reefs on relatively calm day and a product? of a number of small waves coming together for a short distance and then dispersing. A neighbour turned around in time to see a wave 10 metres high 'sneek' up on his boat and held on as it moved over the boat, all over within a few seconds.
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