By Andrew Paul | Published Nov 20, 2023 5:00 PM EST
Rogue monster waves, once believed extremely rare, are now statistically confirmed to occur “all the time” thanks to researchers’ new, artificial intelligence-aided analysis. Using a combined hundreds of years’ worth of information gleaned from over 1 billion wave patterns, scientists collaborating between the University of Copenhagen and the University of Victoria have produced an algorithmic equation capable of predicting the “recipe” for extreme rogue waves. In doing so, the team appear to also upend beliefs about oceanic patterns dating back to the 1700’s.
Despite centuries of terrifying, unconfirmed rumors alongside landlubber skepticism, monstrous rogue waves were only scientifically documented for the first time in 1995. But since laser measuring equipment aboard the Norwegian oil platform Draupner captured unimpeachable evidence of an encounter with an 85-foot-high wall of water, researchers have worked to study the oceanic phenomenon’s physics, characteristics, and influences. Over the following decade, oceanographers came to define a rogue wave as being at least twice the height of a formation’s “significant wave height,” or the mean of the largest one-third of a wave pattern. They also began confidently citing “some reasons” behind the phenomena, but knew there was much more to learn.