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Scientists first recover a 25-year freak wave in a lab



On New Year's Day 1995, the Draupner oil rig off the coast of Norway had harsh weather. According to a wave protocol stored in the station, the rig was hit by 40-foot waves most of the day, but shortly after 15.00, a single 80-foot wave appeared out of nowhere and hit 45 miles per hour Drill.

This rare natural phenomenon (an unexpectedly large sudden large wave) is called a rogue or freak wave. Although they have been reported by seamen for centuries, there was no evidence of their existence until the 1995 attack of the Draupner platform. In the last quarter century, a number of other Freak waves were documented, but the scientists could not explain how they form.

Now a team from Oxford and the University of Edinburgh have recreated the wave of Draupner freaks in a lab for the first time, and may finally explain how they came about.

  Wave heights, measured at the Draupner oil rig on New Year's Day 1995. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Wave heights, measured at the Draupner oil rig on New Year's Day, 1995. Image: Wikimedia Commons

As In one in the February issue of Journal of Fluid Mechanics published, the researchers from Oxford and Edinburgh found that unusual waves arise when two smaller wave groups intersect at exactly the right angle. In order to replicate the Draupner wave in the pool of the FlowWave Ocean Energy Research facility in Edinburgh, the two wave groups had to intersect at 120 degrees.

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The waves generated in the FlowWave center were much smaller than the actual waves registered at Draupner – the artificial waves broke only a few Meters However, they were still considered unusual waves because of their relative height compared to the waves they produced.

In other words, although the raw height of the wave was much smaller, the dynamics they generated in the lab and in the real world are the same.

Researchers hope that their unusual wave laboratory work will help oceanographers predict these rare natural events in the future by analyzing ocean wave patterns.


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