A new tool has been developed by MIT engineers that could give sailors a 2-3 minute warning of an incoming rogue wave, which provides them enough time to shut down essential operations on a ship or offshore platform.

The tool is an algorithm that sifts through data from surrounding waves to spot clusters that may develop into a rouge wave. The algorithm tracks a wave group’s length and height and computes a probability that the group will turn into a dangerous one within the next few minutes, as reported by MIT News.

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Statistical data to quantify the range of possibilities, for a given body of water, was used by the team. Then, they developed a novel approach to analyse the data and predict which wave group will evolve into extreme rogue waves.

“The approach is original. It is fast, easy to implement, and it does not require computational power,” says Miguel Onorato, professor of physics at the University of Turin, who was not involved in the research.

Tests in wave basins and field measurements data are needed in order to establish reliability of the tool in realistic conditions, added Onorato.

Addressing a gap

There is an already existing system that can approach some similar results but such one is computationally expensive as it requires a cluster of computers to solve equations for each and every wave and their interaction with the surrounding ones.

The complex system have been described as accurate, but extremely slow by Themis Sapsis, the American Bureau of Shipping Career Development Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT.

Sapsis said that people cannot run those computation on their laptops and there is no way to predict rogue waves practically, which is the gap the MIT engineers are trying to address.

Their results have been published this week in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics. The research was supported in part by the Office of Naval Research, the Army Research Office and the American Bureau of Shipping.

Source: MIT News