YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, December 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will inaugurate on Friday a research center dedicated to the study of the so-called “killer waves” – a mysterious natural phenomenon that has drawn attention of scientists around the world in the past few years.
Killer waves, also known as “rogue waves” or “freak waves,” are relatively large and spontaneous ocean surface waves that occur far out at sea, and are a threat even to large cargo ships, ocean liners and oil platforms.
“The center will focus on the thorough research of extreme waves in the oceans," Russia’s Far Eastern Federal University said in a statement.
“The center will also work on the prediction of this dangerous phenomenon and the development of protective measures,” the statement said.
Killer waves seem not to have a single distinct cause, but occur where physical factors such as high winds and strong currents cause waves to merge to create a single exceptionally large wave.
Research has so far confirmed that waves of up to 35 meters (115 ft) in height occur in all of the world's oceans many times every year and may present a serious hazard for maritime navigation.
This has caused a recent drive for re-examination of the reasons for the existence of freak waves, as well as reconsideration of the implications for ocean-faring ship design.