UMass Dartmouth MAR 110 - Rogue Giants at Sea (6 pages)

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Rogue Giants at Sea



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http www nytimes com 2006 07 11 science 11wave html July 11 2006 Rogue Giants at Sea By WILLIAM J BROAD Correction Appended The storm was nothing special Its waves rocked the Norwegian Dawn just enough so that bartenders on the cruise ship turned to the usual palliative free drinks Then off the coast of Georgia early on Saturday April 16 2005 a giant sevenstory wave appeared out of nowhere It crashed into the bow sent deck chairs flying smashed windows raced as high as the 10th deck flooded 62 cabins injured 4 passengers and sowed widespread fear and panic The ship was like a cork in a bathtub recalled Celestine Mcelhatton a passenger who along with 2 000 others eventually made it back to Pier 88 on the Hudson River in Manhattan Some vowed never to sail again Enormous waves that sweep the ocean are traditionally called rogue waves implying that they have a kind of freakish rarity Over the decades skeptical oceanographers have doubted their existence and tended to lump them together with sightings of mermaids and sea monsters But scientists are now finding that these giants of the sea are far more common and destructive than once imagined prompting a rush of new studies and research projects The goals are to better tally them understand why they form explore the possibility of forecasts and learn how to better protect ships oil platforms and people The stakes are high In the past two decades freak waves are suspected of sinking dozens of big ships and taking hundreds of lives The upshot is that the scientists feel a sense of urgency about the work and growing awe at their subjects I never met and hope I never will meet such a monster said Wolfgang Rosenthal a German scientist who helped the European Space Agency pioneer the study of rogue waves by radar satellite They are more frequent than we expected Drawing on recent tallies and making tentative extrapolations Dr Rosenthal estimated that at any given moment 10 of the giants are churning through the world s oceans



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