Scientists have figured out a way to predict the total randomness of rogue waves

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Feb 29, 2016

The name pretty much says it all. But now scientists might’ve figured out a way to give ships a few precious minutes of warning before they’re potentially blasted by a rogue wave.

Popular Science reports that a team of researchers at MIT believe they have developed an algorithm that can give ships 2-3 minutes of warning before a rogue wave appears. Rogue waves are typically twice as high as surrounding waves and can tower as high as 100 feet. Needless to say, they can do a lot of damage. It might not sound like much time, but when compared to literally zero notice, 2-3 minutes could potentially save a lot of lives.

Researchers say the additional warning could at least give sailors enough time to prepare for impact from a rogue wave, or perhaps even reposition the ship to better absorb the hit. Though, as the report notes, it’d be tough to reposition a ship in stormy seas on 2-3 minutes' notice. But it’s still a whole lot better than nothing.

So, how does it work? The system is designed to analyze patterns in the ocean, and the theory is based on mechanical engineer Themis Sapsis’ finding that rogue waves could potentially be predicted by looking at how groups of waves interact. By studying those “dynamics,” Sapsis developed a system to figure out when a rogue wave is most likely to strike. The rig uses high-resolution radar or LIDAR sensors to track the motion around the ship.

If the system does well in the next round of testing, it could potentially make seafaring adventure a bit safer — and cut down on the chances we ever have a real-life Poseidon Adventure in the future.


(Via Popular Science)