Wednesday , May 25 2022

Scientists in the laboratory are re-creating a monstrous wave of 25 meters. The result is a Japanese engraving in 1830


GIF: Oxford University (IouTube)

On January 1, 1995, a wave of 25.6 meters fell on Draupner's oil platform in the North Sea. A team at the University of Oxford tried to simulate this wave in laboratory conditions. What they discovered was a surprise.

The wave that Draupner marked before and after the oceanography, but not by its consequences. The oil platform only resisted minor damage, confirming the transient efficiency of collision systems that use these facilities. None of his tenants died, although they certainly made monumental fear. The important thing about the incident is that it was the first time that the sensor wave was registered by a monstrous wave.

Monstrous waves, giant waves or skit waves are unusually large waves that form spontaneously and for no reason. The sea has a more or less normal wave. There is no seismic activity that can produce tsunami, and suddenly a monster whose height is twice as large as the average of the largest waves at that moment is formed.

By that date, the monsters were a mere legend, scary stories of the sailors without any scientific evidence. Val Draupner has taught his science to begin studying monstrous waves as something more than a mere fiction.

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Since then, ocean buoys have recorded trams of more than 25 meters on their sensors, and offshore ships claim to have observed monsters up to 30 years old. The problem with these waves remains the same. Although we have several hypotheses, we still do not know exactly why they occur. To find out, a team of engineers at Oxford University simulated a series of wave conditions (in scale) in a 25 meter test tank in the FloVave Ocean Laboratory in the United Kingdom.

Jackpot was found when crossing waves at an angle of 120 degrees. With such an orientation, the waves do not dissolve or mutually cancel each other. Instead, they progressively add their energy to create a much larger wave. The team believes they have found the exact pattern that causes the appearance of monstrous waves on the open sea, but high-speed photos before the simulation throw an unexpected surprise.

The monstrous wave is stunningly similar to the popular Japanese engraving that dates back to 1830, the great wave of Kanagawa.

Image: Katsushika Hokusai (Vikimedia Commons)

The great wave of Kanagawa, with the original title 沖浪 裏 (Kanagava oki nami ure o Below the waves on the sea in Kanagawais an engraving made by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai between 1830 and 1833. The press, made with a polycromotive woodcarving technique called Ukiio, is one of the most famous in the Edo period and probably one of the most famous exterior. from Japan.

It is impossible to know if Hokusai came to see one of these wandering waves during his lifetime, but there is no lack of interpretation of the work that ensures that it can be based on the life experience of the painter. The incident is only an anecdote, but testifies to the real danger that these waves represent for ships. The Oxford study can be a cornerstone for the creation of a satellite system that allows for the precise formation of these wandering monsters to be more accurately predicted. [Journal of Fluid Mechanics vía University of Oxford]

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