New MIT Tool Can Give Warning About Incoming Rogue Waves

Posted: Feb 26 2016, 9:08pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 26 2016, 10:20pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


New MIT Tool can give Warning about Incoming Rogue Waves
Credit: MIT

MIT researchers have developed a system that can predict rogue waves before it happens and warn sailors of potential killer waves.

Giant surface waves can be extremely dangerous for everyone from surfers to large ships to ocean liners. These killer waves are spontaneous and unexpected and virtually show no warning signs before rising up and can damage and even sink large ships in open water.

Now MIT researchers have developed a new predication tool that will warn of sailors 2 to 3 minutes before the incoming rogue wave and will provide them with enough time to prepare themselves and shut down their essential operations on a ship.

The new tool is actually an algorithm that can look through the data from surrounding waves and spot those clusters of waves that may likely develop into a rogue wave. The algorithm can estimate the length and height of the cluster and evaluates its probability of turning into a rogue wave within the next few minutes. 

“It’s precise in the sense that it’s telling us accurately the location and the time this rare event will happen,” said Themis Sapsis, professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. “We have a range of possibilities and we can say that this will be a dangerous wave and you’d better do something. That’s really all you need.”

The current warning systems are quite complex which simulate every wave in a body of water, then give a high-resolution picture and require multiple computers to see how these waves are interacting to each other and what are their chances of becoming a rogue wave.

This latest MIT system is far simpler and faster than conventional warning systems. To understand and predict rogue wave, it takes into account only surrounding waves not every wave in the water.

Open ocean consists of many waves. Most move independently while some form a single group and roll through the ocean together. Interact and exchange energy to each other which sometimes leads to an extreme rouge wave. The new algorithm predicts which group will turn rogue wave. 

“This approach is original – it is fast, easy to implement and it does not require computational power,” said Miguel Onorato, professor of physics at the University of Turin, who was not involved in the study. “Tests in wave basins and field measurements data are needed in order to establish reliability of the tool in realistic conditions.”


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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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