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Space Science

Ship-Sinking Monster Waves Revealed 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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Ship-Sinking Monster Waves Revealed

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  • Google fodder (Score:5, Informative)

    by MarsDefenseMinister ( 738128 ) <> on Thursday July 22, 2004 @01:57PM (#9771628) Homepage Journal
    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:Clive Cussler... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ayaress ( 662020 ) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @06:09PM (#9774006) Journal
    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.
  • by div_B ( 781086 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:01AM (#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!"

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