Feeds

Satellites track freak waves to Reunion

Working on an early warning system

The next step in data security

The freak waves that smashed into Reunion Island last week were tracked by satellite as they raced across the Indian Ocean.

As many as six people are reported to be missing in the region after the waves demolished several piers in the port of Saint Pierre. Two of the missing are coastguards whose boat was capsized as they searched for fishermen who had been caught in the storm swell.

Image credit: ESA, IFREMER - BOOST Technologies

Satellite data from the European Space Agency (ESA) reveals that the swell, which reached as high as 11 metres, originated in a storm off the coast of South Africa, several days earlier.

Dr Bertrand Chapron of IFREMER, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, tracked the swell using ESA's Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument aboard the Envisat environmental observation satellite.

The instrument can track the so-called wave period. This measurement of the gap between wave peaks is indicative of the size of the wave - the longer period suggesting a larger wave, triggered by a more intense and extreme weather system.

SAR can spot waves with periods of between 12 and 25 seconds, the scientists said, and the wave that hit Reunion had a period of 19 seconds.

Chapron commented: "Swells are still surprise factors, which can unfortunately be deadly. The SAR Wave Mode product allows us to locate and systematically track swells globally. In the near future we anticipate using SAR wave data to predict their arrival time and intensity."

His colleague, Dr Fabrice Collard of France's BOOST Technologies, explained that although the swell was expected to hit Reunion, no one had predicted it would be so large. "[The waves] were predicted to be only a couple of metres," he said.

More from the ESA site here.®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.