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Science

Monstrous ocean wave, eight storeys tall, sets Southern Hemisphere record: scientists

Senior oceanographer Tom Durrant said the 78.1-foot (23.8-metre) monster wiped out the previous Southern Hemisphere record of 72.3 feet (22.03 metres) from 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 May, 2018, 3:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 12:52pm

Scientists have recorded what is believed to be the largest wave ever in the Southern Hemisphere, a 78.1-foot (23.8 metre) monster the height of an eight-storey building.

A buoy recorded the wave on Tuesday during a ferocious storm in the notoriously wild Southern Ocean near Campbell Island, some 435 miles (700km) south of New Zealand, research body MetOcean Solutions said.

Senior oceanographer Tom Durrant said it wiped out the previous Southern Hemisphere record of 72.3 feet (22.03 metres) from 2012.

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“To our knowledge it is largest wave ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere,” he said, adding that the Southern Ocean was an “engine room” for generating swell waves that move across the planet.

“Indeed, surfers in California can expect energy from this storm to arrive at their shores in about a week’s time,” he said.

Durrant added that even bigger waves topping 82 feet (25 metres) were probably whipped up by the storm, which tracked east through the area on Tuesday, but the buoy was not in the best place to record them.

He said the buoy, installed in March to measure the extreme conditions in the Southern Ocean, also only recorded for a 20-minute burst every three hours to conserve its batteries.

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“It’s very probable that larger waves occurred while the buoy was not recording,” he said.

The largest wave ever noted was an earthquake-generated tsunami at Alaska’s Lituya Bay in 1958 that measured 30.5 metres, according to Smithsonian magazine.

Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa was recently acknowledged as having ridden the biggest wave ever surfed, am 80-foot (24.38 metre) giant at Nazare in Portugal last November.

But unlike the wave heights recorded by ocean buoys, the height of this wave was decided by a matter of estimation, based on comparing it to Koxa’s crouching height in photos.