Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Are we ready for an alert service?

A news release today from PRNEWSWIRE has the following item that attracted my attention:

Rogue Wave Alerts in GlobalView

AWT is the only company to provide severe motions and rogue wave alerts in its fleet management system, providing an extra level of safety and precaution that can be taken by shore-based fleet managers. GlobalView now shows areas to avoid that have the potential for rogue waves, which are constantly changing based on conditions at sea.

Rogue waves (also known as freak waves, monster waves, killer waves, extreme waves, and abnormal waves) are relatively large, spontaneous ocean waves that occur in the open ocean in deep water, and can be a threat to any vessel. The scientific definition is a wave whose height is more than twice the significant wave height (SWH), which is defined as the average of the largest third of waves in a given area. Rogue waves are not always the largest found at sea; they are, rather, surprisingly large waves for a given sea state and are normally steep faced and often breaking. AWT has developed a proprietary global model to forecast where current focusing rogue waves are likely to occur.

I must admit that I have not heard of this AWT (Applied Weather Technology,Inc.) company before. Providing alert for possible freaque wave occurrences is certainly a very useful and needed service for ocean shipping enterprises. But I am not aware that the science and technology world is ready to locate a freaque wave before it occurs yet. We still in the realm of not knowing where, when, how and why a freaque wave occurs -- only know that it will occur somewhere, some time, somehow. An alert would be welcome, of course, but how accurate or effective can it be? We need more, much more, measurements all around the ocean world to learn the where, when, how and why. Without actual and systematic data availability, how can anyone making an "alert" that's not just some fancy speculations no one can refute or dispute? Before learning more about how do they do it, I am not skeptical but just unconvinced.

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