Salon has a really interesting interview with Susan Casey, author of “The Wave” about rogue waves. An average of two large ships sink every day around the world, many from large waves. The record wave? It was measured in an Alaskan bay at 1,740 feet – about the height of the former World Trade Center. Eight thousand years ago, a giant underwater landslide along Norway flooded portions of Britain. Lots of good tidbits here:
We’ve only very recently been able to prove that giant rogue waves even exist. Why did it take so long?
People who encountered 100-foot rogue waves generally weren’t coming back to tell people about it. And the people who did were thought to be exaggerating. When satellites came along around the early ’80s, along with better weather radar, and laser measuring devices, that helped people understand them a bit better. They could affix them to boats or ocean buoys and the readings were more accurate.
In 1995, there was a well-recorded incident on this oil platform in the North Sea. On a day when there were 38-foot seas, an 85-foot wave popped up and battered the platform. It was measured by laser. That’s when the scientists really turned to one another and said: “What’s going on out here? By the laws of basic ocean physics and oceanography that shouldn’t happen.” It took chaos theory, quantum physics and physics theories from light to understand why one wave can suddenly pirate the energy from four other waves around it and it becomes this unstable, teetering monster.