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    From: Robert Gainer
    Date: 2004 Jul 23, 16:31 +0000

    Brian Eiland posted this on www.boatdesign.net today. I thought it might be
    of interest to the group.
    All the best,
    Robert Gainer
    Paris - European satellites have given confirmation to terrified mariners
    who describe seeing freak waves as tall as 10-storey buildings, the European
    Space Agency (ESA) said. "Rogue waves" have been the anecdotal cause behind
    scores of sinkings of vessels as large as container ships and supertankers
    over the past two decades. But evidence to support this has been sketchy,
    and many marine scientists have clung to statistical models that say
    monstrous deviations from the normal sea state only occur once every
    thousand years.
    Testing this promise, ESA tasked two of its Earth-scanning satellites, ERS-1
    and ERS-2, to monitor the oceans with their radar. The radars send back
    "imagettes" -- a picture of the sea surface in a rectangle measuring 10 by
    five kilometers (six by 2.5 miles) that is taken every 200 kms (120 miles).
    Around 30,000 separate "imagettes" were taken by the two satellites in a
    three-week project, MaxWave, that was carried out in 2001.
    Even though the research period was brief, the satellites identified more
    than 10 individual giant waves around the globe that measured more than 25
    metres (81.25 feet) in height, ESA said in a press release. The waves exist
    "in higher numbers than anyone expected," said Wolfgang Rosenthal, senior
    scientist with the GKSS Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany, who pored
    over the data. "The next step is to analyze if they can be forecasted," he
    Ironically, the research coincided with two "rogue wave" incidents in which
    two tourist cruisers, the Bremen and the Caledonian Star, had their bridge
    windows smashed by 30-metre (100-feet) monsters in the South Atlantic. The
    Bremen was left drifting without navigation or propulsion for two hours
    after the hit. In 1995, the British cruise liner Queen Elizabeth II
    encountered a 29-metre (94.25-feet) wall of water during a hurricane in the
    North Atlantic. Its captain, Ronald Warwick, likened it to "the White Cliffs
    of Dover." - AFP, full story:
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