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Secret to Towering Rogue Waves Revealed

Live Science
Image: This rare photo of a rogue wave was taken by first mate Philippe Lijour aboard the supertanker Esso Languedoc, during a storm off Durban in South Africa in 1980. The wave approached the ship from behind before breaking over the deck, but in this case caused only minor damage. The wave was between 16 and 33 feet (5-10 meters) tall. Credit: Philippe Lijour via ESA
Deadly rogue waves 100 feet tall or higher could suddenly rise seemingly out of nowhere from the ocean, research now reveals.

Story: Understanding how such monstrous waves form could lead to ways to predict when they might emerge or, potentially, even drive them at enemy vessels, scientists added.

For centuries these killer waves had been dismissed as myths — towering walls of water blamed for mysterious disappearances of ships. But on New Year's Day on 1995, a wave that reached more than 80 feet high was detected with scientific instruments at an oil platform in the North Sea, confirming the existence of these legends.

Since then, the European Union initiated Project MaxWave, which relied on imagery from European Space Agency radar satellites to spot what appeared to be rogue waves around the world. Now scientists are trying to uncover what causes these monsters.

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