Rogue Waves

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Rogue Waves For centuries, mariners have spread stories about giant sudden waves which appeared out of nowhere without warning which were strong enough to capsize even the mightiest and largest ships. Several vessels—such as the S.S. Waratah, the M.S. Munchen, and the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald—were all rumored to have been sunk by rogue waves (Walsh par. 3). Further, rogue waves have been blamed for ripping the bow off of a Norwegian freighter near the tip of South Africa in 1974, almost capsizing the Queen Elizabeth in 1942 off the coast of Greenland, striking the Queen Elizabeth H in 1995, and for swamping military aircraft carriers and tearing tankers in half (McDonald A21). These waves have also been immortalized in popular culture, as…show more content…
8; McDonald A21). Moreover, tsunamis are relatively small waves in height but long in length whereas rogue waves are inordinately tall.
Rogue waves are particularly prominent off the southern coast of South Africa in the imaginary boundary between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on the edge of the Agulhas Current where one’s chance of encountering a rogue wave is estimated at about 3.1% per hour (Perkins 328). These waters are not only geographically complicated but also highly dynamic in that the current flows from the northeast while prevailing winds in the area blow from the southwest (Perkins 328). This opposition creates winds striking the faces of tall, current-driven waves, thus increasing their height. However, rogue waves are also prominent in South America despite drastic differences in sea conditions there. Data from the region suggest that rogue waves can also occur in relatively calm seas. Researchers found rogue waves when the significant wave height was 12 meters as well as when it was only 50 centimeters (Perkins 329). In addition to South Africa and South America, scientists have determined that rogue waves are also more likely in Norway and parts of the Pacific Ocean (BBC par. 6).

Scientists used to believe that rogue waves could appear at any particular area of ocean only once every several millennia; however, recent oceanographic data suggest these waves are far more common than originally believed
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