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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The new freaque waves article in NewScientist magazine

The latest NewScientist (Issue 2979) carried this online article by Stephen Ornes entitled "Rogue waves: The real monsters of the deep" just caught my eye. What I was surprised to see was this:

Seven giants
In 2007, Paul Liu at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration compiled a catalogue of more than 50 historical incidents probably associated with rogue waves. Here are some of the most significant . . .

Hmm . . .  I know that my Geofizika article has been reasonably well referenced, but this NewScientist citing is still a surprise to me.  Here's a discussion in a paragraph in the early part of the article:
Science has been slow to catch up with rogue waves. There is not even any universally accepted definition. One with wide currency is that a rogue is at least double the significant wave height, itself defined as the average height of the tallest third of waves in any given region. What this amounts to is a little dependent on context: on a calm sea with significant waves 10 centimetres tall, a wave of 20 centimetres might be deemed a rogue.
The lament about the lack of "universally accepted" definition is fine. But the dismissing of possible of a 20 cm high freaque waves is unnecessary.  Freaque waves may be able to reach tens of meters high, but its existence is not necessarily measured by its sice alone. An important characteristics of freaque waves  the definition can not be delineated is the unexpectedness of the occurrence of the wave. Even a wave of 20 cm tall, if it occurs unexpectedly, it will be a freaque wave nevertheless!

Over all this is the best general article on freaque waves written by a science writer I have ever read.  He must have done extensive researches on the topic of freaque waves.  I don't know if he had actually talked to the key players he cited in his article, but his choice of players and representing their works all admirably.

For this article I signed up for a short term subscription to NewScientist -- the only way to allow me the access the article in whole right now, it's worth it!

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