Massive wave in New Zealand biggest ever recorded in southern hemisphere

Giant swell reaches eight storeys

Colin Drury@colin__drury
Friday 11 May 2018 16:12
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Campbell Island
Campbell Island

A massive wave has become the largest ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, scientists say.

The 23.8m swell was measured off New Zealand’s Campbell Island in the southern ocean, according to the country’s weather authority.

At its peak, water would have surged to eight storeys high, says Dr Tom Durrant, senior oceanographer with the Metservice of New Zealand.

And he reckons other waves may even have reached 25m during Tuesday’s storm – but were not picked up by the measuring buoy.

The skyscraper eclipses the south’s previous biggest wave – a 22m swell off the Australian state of Tasmania in 2012 – by some distance.

Dr Durrant said: “The Southern Ocean is definitely the most under-observed ocean in the world.

“The region accounts for about 22 per cent of the planet's oceans, and it's the most energetic part of the world's oceans in terms of waves.”

The World Meteorological Organisation does not hold official records on individual wave heights. Instead, it records an average of successive swells – a measure known as the significant wave height.

During Tuesday's storm, this was 14.9m. That remains some way below the 19m mark measured by a buoy in the North Atlantic in 2016.

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