Scientist Seeks Rogue Wave Hot Spots

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2009 7:48 PM CDT
In this image released by the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), surfer Bruce Irons, of Hawaii, wipes out on a huge wave, Sunday, April 29, 2007 in Teahupoo, Tahiti.   (AP Photo/Karen Wilson, ASP)
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(Newser) – A California scientist says he's closer to predicting the kind of rogue waves that have terrified seamen for centuries, the BBC reports. Rising as high as 6 stories and destroying ships with a single wallop, such waves occur where sand banks and currents force wave energy to focus on a single point, says scientist Tim Janssen, who has devised a computer model to identify rogue wave hot spots.

California surfer beaches are perfect examples, but river and bay mouths can generate the same rogue conditions, Janssen tells the San Jose Mercury News. Now, the geosciences professor hopes to identify locations where such waves are ten times more likely to occur. "We are a long way away from making a prediction solid enough for people to actually use," he admits, but calls it "something to work towards."