The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced the highest wave on record: a behemoth that towered 19 meters (62.3 feet, or about five building storeys) above the North Atlantic. Examination of data sent by an automated buoy showed the monster wave rose on Feb. 4, 2013, at a remote spot between Britain and Iceland.
The mighty wave occurred after a strong cold front came through the area, producing winds up of 43.8 knots (81 kilometers, 50.4 miles per hour). The previous record height for a wave was 60 feet in December 2007, also in the North Atlantic.
Automated buoys are vital tools for oceanographers, sending back data on sea currents, temperatures and swells for seafarers, climate researchers and others. Many buoys are GPS-equipped to measure water height. We suspect this one was, though it has not been confirmed. GPS World carried a story about NavCom GPS-equipped ocean buoys in May 2006.
The North Atlantic, from the Grand Banks underwater plateau off Canada to south of Iceland and west of Britain, is the world’s biggest breeding ground for giant waves.
Details of the new record and definition of significant wave height are available here.