Outsiders have seen scores of natural disasters and devastation striking regions internationally this last year. Now, scientists have added another record monster to that list, recording the largest rogue wave ever in the North Pacific Ocean.
According to Science Alert, the massive wave took place in November of 2020, equivalent to a four-story wall of water. Almost comically, the primary source responsible for recording the rogue wave’s occurrence is a single, lonely buoy off the coast of British Columbia. Scientists have calculated the wave amassed a terrifying 58 feet in height. Additionally, the rare event supposedly only takes place every 1,300 years or so. What makes the buoy’s contribution so remarkable is, had it not been there, we would have remained completely ignorant of its occurrence.
What Qualifies a Wave as ‘Rogue’?
The most recent rogue wave boasts the name, Ucluelet. However, it is by no means the tallest ever; 1995 saw an 85-foot wave, the Draupner wave, strike a massive oil-drilling platform off Norway’s coast. It has, however, earned its title as the largest to ever take place based on its relative size. The outlet reports Ucluelet, compared to others within its locale, was “unprecedented,” nearly three times the height of neighboring waves.
As per the outlet, a rogue wave must reach at least twice the height of those surrounding it. Therefore, this is what makes the latest confirmed rogue so daunting.
Interestingly, while these rogue waves may not surprise us now, they were previously considered myths, simple nautical folklore.
However, the 1995 wave aforementioned saw that theory dissipate. In fact, the Norwegian monster shocked scientists at the time, obliterating all previously constructed models.
Of the Ucluelet wave, physicist Johannes Gemmrich from the University of Victoria stated, “Proportionally, [it] is likely the most extreme rogue wave ever recorded.”
Studying Oceanic Monsters Help Better Prediction Capabilities
While rogue waves have emerged from the clutches of nautical myth, scientists remain unsure as to their cause. As such, MarineLabs has disbursed dozens of buoys, similar to the one that recorded Eucluelet, upon the North Pacific. With these, scientists hope to learn more about marine hazards.
Like all natural threats, it’s important for scientists to study the waves, determining their cause to increase current predictability rates. And though we haven’t seen recent devastation due to either Ucluelet or the Draupner waves, scientists believe several ships went missing in the 1970s due to potentially massive waves.
The outlet reports the decades-old destruction looked like the wreckage resultant from an “immense whitecap.”
Because of recent findings, and the fact that increased climate change will only further heighten rogue waves, increasing risk to humans, scientists work hard to attain predictability.
However, “Capturing this once-in-a-millennium wave, right in our backyard, is a thrilling indicator of the power of coastal intelligence to transform marine safety,” said MarineLabs CEO Scott Beatty.