RESEARCHERS at Edinburgh University have gained a new understanding of the “dangerous phenomenon” of “rogue waves” that could help improve the design of offshore structures.

These powerful waves – demonstrated in an experiment for the first time at the university’s FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility – can be exacerbated when they are produced by two sets of waves crossing at a particular angle. Experiments showed that when waves intersect at an angle greater than approximately 60 degrees, they cause the surface level of the ocean to rise, adding to the overall height of the resulting combined wave.

Dr Ton van den Bremer, who led the study, said: “This improves understanding of rogue waves, decades after this aspect of their behaviour was suggested. The more we know about this dangerous phenomenon, the better equipped we will be to design offshore structures and to navigate the oceans.”