American Oceans

AI Can Predict Rogue Waves in the Ocean

a massive wave behind a small sailboat

Rogue waves, which were once considered a myth, have been proven to be a real and dangerous phenomenon that can damage ships and oil rigs. Scientists at the University of Copenhagen and the University of Victoria have utilized artificial intelligence to develop a formula to predict the occurrence of these massive waves, ultimately making shipping safer.

These monstrous waves, sometimes reaching 26 meters in height, were first scientifically documented in 1995 when a rogue wave hit the Norwegian oil platform Draupner. Since then, researchers at the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute have used AI to discover a mathematical model that provides a better understanding of the formation and timing of rogue waves.

Utilizing vast amounts of big data on ocean movements, the researchers were able to predict the likelihood of encountering a rogue wave at sea. By combining information on ocean movements, sea state, water depths, and bathymetric data, they studied over a billion waves and found patterns that led to the formation of rogue waves.

The researchers employed machine learning to develop an algorithm that analyzed numerous types of data and condensed it into a formula that describes the recipe for a rogue wave. One of the key AI methods used in this study was symbolic regression, which generates equations as output, enabling researchers to better understand the causality of the problem.

Contrary to previous theories, this study shows that the primary factor in generating rogue waves is the phenomenon called “linear superposition.” This occurs when two wave systems intersect, temporarily reinforcing each other and leading to the formation of massive waves.

The newly developed algorithm holds significant potential for the shipping industry, as it can predict the risk of rogue waves along a specific route. With constant tracking of weather and wave data already in place, public authorities and weather services can easily calculate the probability of rogue wave occurrences. This, in turn, can help shipping companies plan safer and more efficient routes, ultimately reducing the dangers and damages caused by these maritime monsters.

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