Published: Sat, December 17, 2016
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Buoy measures record-breaking wave in the North Atlantic

Buoy measures record-breaking wave in the North Atlantic

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced that in 2013, a buoy detected the "the highest significant wave height" in recorded history.

The wave occurred in the waters between Iceland and the United Kingdom and followed the route of an extremely strong cold front which produced winds of around 80kph (50mph) over the area.

Using a Datawell heave sensor, the WMO used careful language to describe the discovery.

A 62-foot wave in the North Atlantic has been certified as the largest ever recorded - a "remarkable record", according to the UN's weather agency. Large waves occur when strong winds hit the ocean and then the water travels over large distances, growing in size.

Scientists from the WMO's climatology extremes committee have classified the wave as "the highest significant wave height as measured by a buoy".

"This is the first time we have ever measured a wave of 19 meters", Zhang said in a statement.

"The new world record will be added to the official WMO archive of weather and climate extremes which is being constantly updated and expanded thanks to continued improvements in instrumentation, technology and analysis", Randall Cerveny, joint rapporteur with WMO's World Records of Climate and Weather Extremes, said in a news release. Still, nothing to sneeze at.

"We need high quality and extensive ocean records to help in our understanding of weather/ocean interactions", Mr Zhang told the Telegraph. Measured in February 2000 in the Rockall Trough, also in the North Atlantic, a wave of 29.05 meters in height was recorded. That patch of ocean sometimes features "weather bombs", a phenomenon marked by a drop in atmospheric pressure of 24 millibars in 24 hours that produces powerful extra-tropical storms. Significant wave height is "the average of the highest one-third of waves measured by an instrument".

A giant 60ft (19m) wave has been spotted in the North Atlantic - the tallest ever recorded by a buoy, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

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