Rogue Waves

by James Komisarjevsky, RJD Intern

Imagine being out on a ship and facing a 60 meter high wave. An extremely large wave like that is known as a rogue wave. Rogue waves can be anywhere from two or more times higher than the average wave crest. They can be anywhere from 20 meters to 60 meters high. As one can imagine they have also taken up the name of “killer waves” (Bludov et. Al, 2009). For centuries, seafarers have been telling tales about giant waves which were capable of sinking ships and then disappearing without a trace. It wasn’t until recently that these tales were started to be believed when the first rogue wave was documented in 1995 on an oil platform in Norway (Figure 1) (Solli et. Al, 2007). In the following years, a program developed called “MAXWAVE”, showed that rogue waves with heights of 25 meters were actually common occurrences (Bludov et. Al, 2009).

This graph shows the surface elevation for the rogue wave that was recorded on an oil platform in Norway 1995. The surface elevation for the rogue wave is near 20 meters and in this cause the surface elevation more than doubled. (Picture source:


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