Waves & Storms

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Tsunamis, giant waves caused by underwater earthquakes, speed across the ocean at 400 miles per hour. Early warning systems, such as NOAA’s DART systems, are key to saving lives. Today, 47 DART stations are...
This image shows four tropical storm systems in the Atlantic Ocean basin on...
From the water, red mangroves appear to form an impenetrable tangle of roots,...
At the entrance of most beaches, there is a bulletin board with notices about...

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When hurricanes blow through an area, they don’t just have an impact on humans. These intense wind events also cause great damage to the ecosystems (pdf) they touch. They harm marine animals by spewing pollution and debris onto...
Large waves are a draw for surfers, scientists and spectators alike to...
What do you get when you mix together a hurricane, the remnants of a wintry...

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We all know that hurricanes can have destructive effects on human communities and infrastructure—but what about their...

The Ocean Blog

As a geological oceanographer at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Dr. Maggie Toscano has made a career of documenting how coastal systems have changed over thousands of years in...
Robotic gliders allow researchers to collect data in severe weather conditions without risking lives. In 2009 Hurricane Bill passed to the north during the Scarlet Knight’s mission, producing large...
Hurricane Katrina battered the city of New Orleans and many other areas of the Gulf Coast when it came ashore in August 2005. Dr. Isaac Ginis, a Professor of Oceanography at The University of Rhode...
Orange shaded areas are major drainage basins of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras that contribute sediment to the Caribbean. Wind and current patterns are represented by red and black arrows,...
Large waves are a draw for surfers, scientists and spectators alike to locations around the world. Changes to the coast and ocean floor as well as sediment flow can change the nature of a wave as it...
Dr. Isaac Ginis, an expert in hurricane modeling from The University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography, is the second featured speaker in Changing Tides: A Series of Ocean Discussions...
Even when viewed from space, Hurricane Irene looks sizable. When a NASA satellite took this image on August 23, 2011 the storm was 410 miles in diameter, with clouds covering eastern Cuba. Irene is...
But what path, precisely, did this pumice take to reach Belize from the Guatemalan Highlands? Maps of drainage networks that reach the Gulf of Honduras and currents in the western Caribbean Sea are...
At the entrance of most beaches, there is a bulletin board with notices about water conditions: maybe a faded sign warning about rip currents and a list of this week's tide tables. Most people pass...
A tsunami is a set of waves created by a disturbance, likely an earthquake, which reaches the surface of the sea.
From the water, red mangroves appear to form an impenetrable tangle of roots, trunks, and leaves—a protective barrier against storms and tsunamis. More about mangroves can be found in our Mangroves...
This image shows four tropical storm systems in the Atlantic Ocean basin on September 8, 2011. In this arresting image you can see Maria, Katia, Nate, and Lee--all four storm systems--in one NOAA...
Dr. Isaac Ginis presented "Eye on the Storm: Predicting a Hurricane's Path of Destruction", in October 2010. This second installment of the Changing Tides lecture series featured Dr. Isaac Ginis, a...
Using maps and graphics, Smithsonian geologist Dr. Liz Cottrell provides an overview of the major earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011—one of the largest ever recorded globally...
Since 1902, more than 40 centimeters of mangrove peat could have accumulated at the Belize site, enough to entrap and bury small pieces of pumice. But Juan’s vexing questions persisted: Why hadn’t...
We all know that hurricanes can have destructive effects on human communities and infrastructure—but what about their effects on coastal wetlands? Until Hurricane Katrina, no one had ever mapped...
I became interested in weather phenomena when I took physics in high school. At the time, I just wanted to understand how various things in nature worked. Unfortunately, most information about...
The ocean moves in many ways, one of which is the shape of a wave.
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