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NOAA Map of Japanese Tsunami Wave Height

by John Reed on March 12, 2011

In case you haven’t seen it yet: This isn’t directly defense-related, but it’s still interesting. It’s a plot created by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showing the projected wave size from the Tsunami that rocked Japan on Friday. See how the chart maxes out at 240 centimeters. That’s almost eight feet. There are reports the wall of water that tore through Japan was more than 12 feet high in places. Our thoughts are with the victims.

Here’s another chart of the the waves:

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Sev March 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm

If only we could target and create earthquakes like the movie "The Core"


skeeter0079 April 27, 2011 at 8:20 pm

yes but if the technology that was in "Core" existed don't you think we would have the same problems that they had in the movie?


Logix August 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm

We can do that my friend, and we are already doing it! Trust me, in this world nothing is forbidden, everything is permitted!


NKelly January 1, 2014 at 1:39 am

SO THIS IS THE DIRECTION THAT THE RADIATION FALLOUT IS GOING TO HIT 1ST…..nice, enjoy the next few years everyone.


david March 12, 2011 at 5:10 pm

gee lucky indonesia and malaysia was there, i dont think QLD could handle any more disasters


Steven March 13, 2011 at 12:02 am

Atleast all that stuff from japan didnt happen in LA even tho its really sucks for everyone in the world that watched japans devestation unwrap. I wish we could of prevented that earthquakeand tsunami. so many lives would of been saved.


thatsbogus March 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Somebody at NOAH may want to throw a rock in a puddle so that they can understand the natural concentric ripples of waves and how the inverse square law applies to it in a practical sense. The colorful model provided shows sustained red streaks of energy that conveniently display very little loss of momentum along the corridors that reach the western coastlines of north and south America.

Aside of the exponential natural loss of energy that takes place with distance, there are wind and current factors that combined with changes in both the depth and contours of the ocean floor will quickly dissipate a wave over a relatively short distance.

The image provided makes for good artwork, but is hardly factual lest the Island of Japan had been erased.


blight March 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Projected energy is basically ten-fold drop over by the time it hits the United States. What I find odd is why it channels towards the southeast for so far. Is it a ocean topology thing…?


skeeter0079 April 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm

wave energy in the ocean is carried primarily by the wind and only goes down so far… like maybe 5 or 6 meters below the surface


Liam October 17, 2013 at 2:56 am

But this is a tsunami. A completely different kind of wave with, I imagine, almost nothing to do with the wind. That's why they are so destructive. A wind created wave of 1m will do nothing at all. 1m tsunamis have destroyed villages.


John F August 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm

As you say, winds and currents play a part as does the topography of the ocean floor and the Coriolis effect. This map is not intended to be factual but to project where the danger areas might be. A rock in a puddle is a very simple model and does not come close to the level of complexity we are seeing here.


Will March 14, 2011 at 7:43 pm

It's NOAA, not NOAH. It's fascinating how the waves did not propagate in a circular pattern but varied in height in different directions. It would be nice to see a follow up story about the causes of that, although it probably won't be at this website.


Don March 14, 2011 at 11:34 pm

It would be perfect, concentric circles if the seafloor were perfectly flat, having an equal depth, however, as relative water depth increases, wave speed increases to a certain limit. Also, as waves cross trenches and over depth variances they tend to turn to be perpendicular to them. I don't know the exact topography of the Pacific, but I am sure that is what caused most of those patterns.

That was a really simple version of a complex theory of wave propagation, but I hope it helped in some way!

Source: Coastal Engineer


Little Craig Sherry August 20, 2011 at 12:38 am

There is a documented wave height of 10 metres in several locations. The 12 feet mentioned here is obviously an average height. Footage from the air would justify a far higher wave height than 12 feet.


Robyn Bigass August 21, 2011 at 10:26 am

I fear that this guy above (Craig Sherry small balls) is the little clown who sacked half his workforce so he could give himself a bonus. I hope he feels good about himself.
If i was him I'd trade in my genes and say Mom and Dad start again. But small-minded ones like him never admit they are wrong (they just take the money and run).
It is a sad world due to the likes of him. He is a wreaker of injustice.
I am saddened that he bothered to contribute to this very important forum.
This tiny gingerman has hurt so many good souls he deserves to do the walk of shame and by crikee he will.
So says those who care about man and our time under old Sol..


CanDo shortass August 21, 2011 at 10:47 am

This big-assed woman above obviously has an axe to grind. Trouble is none of us have any reference points. If this modern age is full of WTF moments that fat-ass broad has defined our age. Bad bosses (and the havoc they wreak) are the modern dilemma affecting most hipsters. They can't help their ways man. I understand your pain Fat-ass Robyn but lets get back to the Japanese disaster. We owe it to them to stay on topic.
They have been through too much heartache. Even if you have been hurt big-assed Robyn think about our Japanese brothers and sisters.

Lets get our priorities right.


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