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Monday, December 12, 2011

Measurements needed!

I just read a post a few month ago (15 Jun 11) in the Oxford Science Blog, entitled "On the crest of a freak wave", in which the blogger Pete Wilton interviewed a young scientist, Thomas Adcock, who had just published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A. coauthored with Paul Taylor.  What prompts me to do this item today is the final question of that short interview:

OSB: What further research is needed in this area?
TA: Whilst scientists understand the basic features of most sea-states fairly well, we do not really understand at a local level the physics when a sea-state changes rapidly – for example if the wind suddenly starts blowing in a different direction. What we really need is far more high quality measurements of individual large waves – without this we cannot know whether our theories are right.  (Bold face emphasize added.)

I am really impressed with this answer, since my impression of them was thinking of them in terms of theoretical modeling.  But they are research engineers, so it is not surprising that they have a healthy appreciation of what is really going on out there in the real ocean.  Now my question is that there are really more than just a handful practicing scientists and engineers who all agree that "high quality measurements of individual large waves" are needed, how come this need can not be duly recognized by the power that be in charge the research funding programs?

1 comment:

Brendan Cahill said...

I've recently happened across this blog and I'm having an enjoyable time reading through your posts. I'm currently doing a PhD focused on characterising the wave energy resource off the Irish west coast and the concept of freaque/freak waves is one that intrigues me. I've just written a short piece on some recent measurements of record breaking waves for Irish waters (here http://bit.ly/tY4Ny7 in case you're interested). They would not be classified as freaks as the Hs was extremely high but they are impressive nonetheless!

I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Brendan Cahill