Do you know how giant waves are formed?

In November 2017, Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa had the privilege - as well as luck - to become a world record holder by being recorded surfing a 24-meter-high wave in Nazaré, Portugal. The region is known worldwide for surfers, but such an opportunity does not occur often.

Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa broke the world record for the highest wave ever surfed during a session in Nazare, Portugal according to the World Surf League. The Sao Paulo native set the new record riding an 80-foot (24.38m) wave in November 2017

- Massimo (@ Rainmaker1973) August 12, 2018

Along with choosing the wave, it is also necessary that the athlete has sufficient ability to surf it to the end, as a fall can have serious consequences. Now how did he know this would be perfect? And why don't waves like this form on every beach?

Wind and some more details

Koxa's wave was generated by the wind, like most of them, which makes them extremely unpredictable. “There are waves of all shapes and sizes breaking on beaches around the world. If they are not stopped for anything, they can cross entire ocean basins, so their origin could have been a storm half a world away, "oceanologist biologist Sharon Gilman explained on her website.

Although a bit of luck is needed, the Nazaré region is a popular spot for surfers looking for giant waves, and this is due to the formation of the beach. Some coastal regions are open and have shallow margins, causing waves to dissipate easily, resulting in an area of ​​calm sea.

Already coastal regions with steep seafloor make the waves form easier, causing an amplifying effect as they approach the beach. According to Gilman, "the waves that are in front start to drag at the bottom and thus slow down, allowing the next to pass over them. As the distance between the wave peaks decreases, all this energy condenses in a space narrower and needs to go somewhere, so the wave gets higher, "said Gilman.

Another factor that contributes to the formation of giant waves is the relief of the region near the beach. Cliffs serve as a wall that prevents energy dissipation after the wave breaks, causing water to move randomly directly back to the sea. This behavior, when repeated at a specific frequency, accumulates wave energy and generates an effect known as constructive interference, increasing their size with each iteration.

In Nazareth everything conspires in favor

What you see in practice is scientifically proven. The Nazaré region has a coast with an intense slope, in many cases with cliffs, and huge submerged walls, which favor the generation of constructive interference. All of these conditions, combined with wind-generated waves at the optimal frequency, cause the coveted giant waves.

The waves are incredible and much sought after by surfers, but the region is not very advisable for those seeking tranquility. There are several reports of people who were seriously injured and even killed as they were swallowed by the giant waves. The highest wave surfing record (24 meters) belongs to Rodrigo Koxa, but on other occasions waves over 30 meters in height have been recorded.


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