Eden DeWald | May 16th, 2018
On May 8th, the largest wave ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere was formed off the coast of New Zealand. The wave reached a massive 78 feet as it was measured by a buoy in the Southern Ocean.
Most waves are caused by winds interacting and transferring energy into ocean waters. Scientists speculate that these record breaking waves, such the 78 foot record breaker, are a result of smaller surface wave combining to form a more massive wave.
However, 78 feet might not be the of the actual peak size of the wave. The buoys used to measure the wave do not record measurements constantly, so the wave could have reached an even higher maximum height than recorded.
The previous record for the largest wave in the Southern Hemisphere happened in 2012 and occurred near Tasmania, at height of 72 feet. The largest wave ever recorded was in 1995, and was measured at 84 feet in the Atlantic Ocean.
Tom Durrant, a New Zealand oceanographer, stated that waves are likely to increase in size according to predictive climate models that foresee more powerful storms in the future. Stronger storms are conducive to stronger winds—creating the potential for even bigger waves.