The Southern Ocean is a unique ocean basin and is the least studied despite occupying 22 percent of the global ocean area. The persistent and energetic wind conditions here create enormous fetch for wave growth, making the Southern Ocean the engine room for generating swell waves that then propagate throughout the planet – indeed surfers in California can expect energy from this storm to arrive at their shores in about a week’s time.
The monster wave was the perfect example of waves generated by the easterly passage of a deep low pressure system with wind speeds above 120kmh.
It was particularly interesting that the speed of this week’s storm appeared to match the wave speed allowing wave heights to grow dramatically as the system tracks eastward.
Reasons for thinking the measured wave wasn’t actually the biggest during the storm included the wave forecast, which showed larger wave conditions just north of the buoy location.