Oceanology: Smart buoys warn oil rigs of freak waves

AN EARLY warning system for destructive underwater waves has passed its first test in the Andaman Sea, north-west of Sumatra, Indonesia. The system is designed to look for solitons, powerful pulses that can be triggered at the boundary between layers of dense and less-dense water, often when a step change in the sea’s depth disrupts a tidal flow. On the surface they can appear as relatively innocuous white horses, but deep down they can generate powerful vertical currents that are a hazard to divers, says Martin Goff, a UK-based expert on solitons at Fugro GEOS,
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