Featured Image Credit: British Antarctic Survey
By Laura O’Brien
The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, is known for its turbulent and dangerous waters. This reputation is what brought scientists to its deep waters in order to drop a new, high-tech buoy into the frigid waves.
The collaboration between MetOcean Solutions and the New Zealand Defense Force had hoped to learn more about this desolate area and gain useful information for new ship designs, but they did not anticipate what happened next. The buoy measured a gargantuan 64 FOOT WAVE. Not only is a wave so massive absolutely horrifying, it is not even a complete anomaly in this area of the world! Although it is one of the largest waves found in the area, waves regularly exceed 32 feet in the Southern Ocean.
Scientists already understand why the waves in the Southern Ocean can grow to such ridiculous heights. A combination of consistent and high winds, and the open expanse of the ocean create an environment that is ideal for gigantic waves. In fact, the Southern Ocean is home to some of the largest waves in the entire world. Hopefully, the buoy will give scientists more insight into the sparsely trafficked area.
One of the scientists who is looking forward to what else the buoy will find is Dr. Tom Durrant, who told DailyMail, “this is the world’s southern-most wave buoy moored in the open ocean, and we are excited to put it to the test in large seas.” The buoy is responsible for recording more than just wave heights, it is meant to collect extensive information on the punishing conditions of the Southern Ocean. As the only buoy of its kind in the area, it will provide valuable information on an area that has remained somewhat elusive up until now.
One reason that information on this area is so important is because of the strong role that the Antarctic Ocean plays in our climate. The violent winds and monstrous waves exchange carbon, nutrients, and heat in a cycle. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current continues the cycle by distributing those components further. Due to the Antarctic Ocean’s impact on our climate, the information that the buoy collects will be available to the scientific community; so we can look forward to many discoveries which will come as a result of the buoy’s observations.
Let’s hope that future revelations made by the buoy aren’t nearly as horrifying as the gigantic 64 foot wave of our nightmares.