As recent natural disasters like the Tonga volcanic eruption have proven, humanity can never fully prepare for nor grasp the true extent of mother nature’s sheer power.
While scientists can predict volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis, we have no way of stopping them or meaningfully reducing their impact.
Nature’s power became apparent again this month when scientists revealed the largest ever rogue wave had been recorded in the Pacific Ocean.
Measuring 17.6 metres high (58ft), the wave is believed to have been a once in every 1,300 years occurrence - although climate change could mean the record is soon broken again.
So how do rogue waves happen - and what caused the North Pacific Ocean record breaker?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is a rogue wave?
Until relatively recently, rogue waves were thought to be nautical myths - tall tales to pad out sea shanties or boast about in the pub.
But since 1995, more than a dozen have been recorded using scientific buoys in oceans, and even lakes.
They are defined as waves which are more than twice the height of other waves around them.
So they are not necessarily the biggest waves on record, but they are proportionally the largest.
Why rogue waves occur is currently unknown, so it is hard to predict when and where they could strike.
This unpredictability and their extreme power is cited by scientists as a major concern.
What was the Draupner wave?
The Draupner wave was the first-ever rogue wave humans were able to record and accurately measure.
The wave measured 26 metres (85ft) while all the waves around it were around 12 metres tall (39ft).
At the time, it completely defied all scientific modelling.
How big was the rogue wave recorded in the Pacific?
The record-breaking rogue wave was recorded off the coast of Canada in the North Pacific Ocean in November 2020.
It is being called the Ucluelet wave and is named after the British Columbia port the buoy was closest to when the wave was recorded.
While the latest rogue wave was much smaller than the Draupner wave, measuring 17.6 metres in height (58ft), it was almost three-times the size of the waves around it - as this video simulation shows.
Scientists believe it is a once in every 1,300 year occurrence.
But a recent study have predicted wave heights in the Pacific Ocean are going to increase, meaning it might not hold the rogue wave record for that long.
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