It takes a perfect storm to generate a Freak Wave, a wall of water so unpredictable and colossal that it can easily destroy and sink ships, a new study finds.
That Wave reached an incredible 84 feet (25.6 meters) tall, or about the height of four adult giraffes stacked on top of one another.
Credit: Copyright V. Sarano The discovery shifts scientists’ understanding of freak waves "from mere folklore to a credible real-world phenomenon," study lead researcher Mark McAllister, a research assistant in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford in England, said in a statement.
"By recreating the Draupner wave in the lab, we have moved one step closer to understanding the potential mechanisms of this phenomenon."
The finding illustrates " previously unobserved wave-breaking behavior , which differs significantly from current state-of-the-art understanding of ocean wave-breaking," study senior author T. S. van den Bremer, an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford, said in the statement.
The team hopes that their work will lay the groundwork for future studies that may one day help scientists predict these potentially catastrophic waves, they said.
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