Waves & Storms

Waves come in all shapes and sizes—from small ones calmly lapping on the shore to large rogue waves out at sea. Storms interact with the ocean on the surface, from hurricanes to tsunamis.

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The Ingredients for a Hurricane

Dr. Isaac Ginis' presentation, "Eye on the Storm: Predicting a Hurricane's Path of Destruction."You can also read his "...

Tracking Tsunamis

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...

Changing Tides Lecture: Predicting a Hurricane's Path of Destruction

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 Professor of Oceanography...

Understanding the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

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. She explains the...
Carrie Bow Cay field station sits in the blue and turquoise waters of Belize.

Tracking volcanic rock to the shores of Belize

For years, scientists have found pumice, a porous volcanic rock, scattered on the beaches and mangroves of Belize, despite the lack of volcanoes in the immediate area. Thanks to the persistence of one curious...
A map that shows wind and current patterns of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

Pumice: Just Scratching the Surface

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 pumice been...
A map that shows wind and current patterns of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

Mapping the Pumice Journey

Finding pumice on the shores of Belize is a common occurrence based on a lot of anecdotal evidence, and may have figured prominently in Mayan life over the centuries. Maggie’s Mayan friend Doroteo Cho,...

How Hurricanes Shape Wetlands in Southern Louisiana

The grasses and animals living in marshes help to filter water and stabilize shorelines, along with providing habitat for a variety of mammals, fish, shellfish and amphibians and a haven for migratory waterfowl. Credit:...

Currents, Waves, and Tides: The Ocean in Motion

Credit: Yasmine Abulhab 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...

Wavechasers and the Samoan Passage

Watch as a team of wave chasers heads to Somoa where they search for an undersea river five kilometers beneath the ocean's surface. There they measured skyscraper-sized internal gravity waves, which break and produce...
A wave curls near the shore.

The Importance of a Wave

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...

The Ingredients for a Hurricane

Dr. Isaac Ginis' presentation, "Eye on the Storm: Predicting a Hurricane's Path of Destruction."You can also read his " Ingredients of a Hurricane " post on our blog. I became interested in weather phenomena...