Sailors have told tales for centuries of giant waves arising in calm seas and swamping boats unlucky enough to get caught in them. Scientists knew better, of course, and said such stories were simply myths–until recent studies confirmed that these giant rogue waves not only exist, they exist in higher numbers than anyone expected.
The photo above is a rare image of a rogue wave, taken by first mate Philippe Lijour aboard the supertanker Esso Languedoc during a storm off Durban in South Africa in 1980. The mast at far right stands 25 metres above mean sea level; mean wave height at the time was between five and 10 metres. The wave approached the ship from behind before breaking over the deck, but caused only minor damage. (Image: Philippe Lijour via ESA.)
Now a researcher at the Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid, in collaboration with the German research centre GKSS, has come up with a software tool that can allow ships to detect approaching giant waves in time to prepare for their arrival. (Via ScienceDaily.)
The same tool may also have environmental uses: it could be used to predict the exact trajectory of oil spills, for instance.
Meanwhile, somewhere an Ancient Mariner is muttering, “Told you so.”
Here’s a column I wrote on rogue waves a few years ago.
[tags]ocean, rogue waves, ships, technology[/tags]
This funky partly-submerged oddity is a design for a floating house, with five stories and enough room for six people. Featuring a bathroom and guest room slightly underwater and a lower level observation room for looking into the ocean depths, this would be a room fitting of many a sf or Bond villain! It even includes an electrical generator and enough storage for weeks of food and water. The entire structure is plastic, fibreglass and acrylic but will cost potential buyers a cool $2.5 Millon, which isn’t actually that much compared to a lot of mansions these days.
[via Neatorama, photo by sub-find]
As Jamais Cascio and others have pointed out, geoengineering – large-scale technological projects aimed at averting the climate change crisis – should only be considered as last-ditch options, because they come with the risk of actually making things worse.
Take for example James "Gaia" Lovelock’s suggestion that we install hundreds of huge pipes in the ocean, with the aim of channeling nutrient-rich deep water to the surface to promote the growth of algae and (hopefully) absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide. Lovelock himself admits that there’s a risk of the plan backfiring, but he says he’s worried enough that he thinks traditional scientific caution should be left behind. I hope he’s wrong – but even if he is, we could be doing a lot more to solve the problem than we already are. [Via BLDGBLOG] [Image by Jurvetson]
[tags]environment, ocean, geoengineering, climate change[/tags]