If youre a ship captain and there might be 50-foot waves headed your way, youd appreciate some information about them, right? Thats the idea behind a wave model system a Texas A&M University at Galveston professor has developed. His detailed wave prediction system is currently in use in the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Maine.
Vijay Panchang, head of the Department of Maritime Systems Engineering, doesnt make waves - he predicts what theyll do, when theyll do it and how high theyll get. Using data provided daily from NOAA and his own complex mathematical models, Panchang and research engineer Doncheng Li provide daily wave model predictions for much of the Texas coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Maine. Their simulations, updated every 12 hours, provide a forecast for two days ahead. "The models we provide are based on very detailed information, such as seabed topography, offshore wave conditions, wind speed and direction and other factors," Panchang explains.
"Its useful information for anyone in coastal waters. Texas has a huge coastline, and Maine has more than 3,000 miles of coast. Recreational and fishing boats, cruise ships, commercial ships, and others can use this information. Coastal wave information can also be used to predict sediment transport and for engineering design." Because the models use wind data, tsunamis that are created by undersea earthquakes cant be predicted. But thats not to say his modeling system doesnt come up with some big waves. His wave model predicted big waves in November 2003 in the Gulf of Maine, and it was accurate - waves as high as 30 feet were recorded during one storm even in coastal regions.
Keith Randall | EurekAlert!
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