Water And Oceanography

What causes a Rogue Wave



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Causes of rogue waves are a mystery that researchers are struggling to answer now that their existence has been proven. Until recently, rogue waves were thought to be sea legends. Here are the most popular theories about the causes of rogue waves.

Earthquakes. Ocean plates moving cause the quakes and the vibrations make ripples, some of which are large enough to form a rogue wave. The fault with this possible cause is the ripple effect. There should be sets of waves, not just one and they should originate from a quake zone. Earthquakes are highly unlikely to be the causes of rogue waves.

Storms. The idea is that the occasional wave may come from the churning anger of tropical storms. There is no evidence to support this or disprove it but the ripple effect also suggests this theory is not what causes a rogue wave.

Gravity. This is a popular possibility . The effect of being whipped around the sun pulls at the water until occasionally a wave will be puled up. Researchers are currently studying this in wave tanks. This is the leading theory about what causes rogue waves.

Collisions. Much like during an earthquake, when two waves meet, one goes low and one goes high. How high? That is the question being debated. Could this create a 90 foot wave? This theory of rogue wave causes is also being studied in huge wave tanks.

Wind. Much like a tornado, air drafts collide and rotate, churning up the water. A strong enough gust could possibly pull up water and then drop it down to create an impact, which causes a rogue wave. Again, there is the ripple effect and that suggests this is not what causes a rogue wave either.

Impacts. The earth is constantly being hit with space rocks and left over technology that falls from the sky but the ripple effect also comes into play here. There should be sets of waves, not just one. The ripple effect eliminates many of the theories about rogue wave causes.

So, what causes a rogue? No one knows for sure. These are only a few of the many possible causes of rogue waves and the question of being studied around the world. The future will hopefully provide the answers. 

Tip: If ever caught in a rogue wave, steer directly into it or you will be hit broadside and likely rolled.

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