Sustainable Energy

Wipeout! Huge 19 meter high wave sets new record

Johner Images | Getty Images

Experts at the World Meteorological Organization say they have established a new world record for wave height measured by a buoy.

An automated buoy recorded the wave in a part of the North Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and the U.K. on 4 February 2013. It was 19 meters, or 62.3 feet, in height.

The WMO Commission for Climatology's Extremes Evaluation Committee has classified the measurement as "the highest significant wave height as measured by a buoy."

"This is the first time we have ever measured a wave of 19 meters," Wenjian Zhang, the WMO's assistant secretary-general, said on Tuesday. "It is a remarkable record," Zhang added.

"It highlights the importance of meteorological and ocean observations and forecasts to ensure the safety of the global maritime industry and to protect the lives of crew and passengers on busy shipping lanes," he went on to say.

The WMO said that wave height was defined as being the "distance from the crest of one wave to the trough of the next."

The highest waves usually happen in the North Atlantic, with atmospheric pressure and wind-circulation patterns during winter resulting in "intense extra-tropical storms".

"Oceans cover some 70 per cent of the world's surface," Randall Cerveny, joint rapporteur on world records of climate and weather extremes for the WMO, said. "Ocean observations are therefore critical to understanding and forecasting our weather and climate," he added.