Using light to understand rogue waves

EarthzineOceans, Uncategorized

Imagine you’re in a storm where the average wave is 20 feet (6 meters) tall. Suddenly, a wave appears that’s 100 feet (30 meters) tall. A sudden, unexpected wave that tall can sink even large ships and is an example of a rogue wave. Rogue waves aren’t tsunamis, which are caused by undersea earthquakes. They seem to appear out of nowhere, in both calm and rough seas. Because the process that forms them isn’t well understood, rogue waves can take ships by surprise.
And that’s why they can be dangerous to all sorts of ships, including cruise ships.
Tracking down a rogue wave in order to study it scientifically is also difficult and dangerous. So researchers have come up with another way to study these waves. Using light instead of water, it’s possible to create a small-scale optical version of a rogue wave in the lab.