What’s a meteotsunami?

a stormy ocean, iStock image

Stormy climate over the ocean can typically gasoline the event of meteotsunamis, a sequence of waves usually a lot smaller and fewer harmful than these related to seismically generated tsunamis.

Seiches and meteotsunamis. What is the distinction?

Seiches and meteotsunamis are sometimes grouped collectively, however they’re two totally different occasions. Winds and atmospheric stress can contribute to the formation of each seiches and meteotsunamis; nevertheless, winds are usually extra necessary to a seiche movement, whereas stress typically performs a considerable function in meteotsunami formation. Generally a seiche and a meteotsunami may even happen on the similar time. Seiches are standing waves with longer durations of water-level oscillations (usually exceeding durations of three or extra hours), whereas meteotsunamis are progressive waves restricted to the tsunami frequency band of wave durations (two minutes to 2 hours). Seiches are often restricted to partially or absolutely enclosed basins, resembling Lake Erie. Meteotsunamis can happen in such basins however are additionally prevalent on the open coast. A single meteotsunami can journey lengthy distances and affect a really massive vary of the shoreline.

You’ve heard of tsunamis—these large oceanic waves triggered primarily by earthquakes that may roll ashore, inflicting lack of life and catastrophe. However have you ever heard of meteotsunamis?

Meteotsunamis are massive waves that scientists are simply starting to raised perceive. In contrast to tsunamis triggered by seismic exercise, meteotsunamis are pushed by air-pressure disturbances typically related to fast-moving climate occasions, resembling extreme thunderstorms, squalls, and different storm fronts. The storm generates a wave that strikes in direction of the shore, and is amplified by a shallow continental shelf and inlet, bay, or different coastal function.

Meteotsunamis have been noticed to succeed in heights of 6 ft or extra. They happen in lots of locations all over the world, together with the Nice Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Coast, and the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas.

Figuring out a meteotsunami is a problem as a result of its traits are nearly indistinguishable from a seismic tsunami. It may also be confused with wind-driven storm surge or a seiche. These uncertainties make it tough to foretell a meteotsunami and warn the general public of a possible occasion. Nonetheless, NOAA scientists have recognized atmospheric circumstances which are more likely to generate a meteotsunami and proceed to work on methods to forecast them.