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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Aerial image of Hurricane Bill

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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

Mangrove Mystery – Where Did All the Pumice Come From? For years, scientists have found pumice, a porous volcanic rock, scattered on the beaches and mangroves of Belize, despite the lack of volcanoes in...

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...

Tsunami Science

A tsunami is a series of ocean waves generated by sudden displacements in the sea floor, landslides, or volcanic activity. In the deep ocean, the tsunami wave may only be a few inches high...

Where Do Hurricanes Get Their Strength?

Hurricanes are one of the most powerful and destructive forces on Earth. But did you ever wonder where they get their strength? The formation of a hurricane is complicated, but basically, it depends on...
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Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones

Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans and many other areas of the Gulf Coast in August 2005. Credit: NASA, MODIS Rapid Response Team/Marine Photobank What’s the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon and a cyclone?...

Fujiwhara Effect

What happens when hurricanes collide? They begin a circular dance in what's called the Fujiwhara Effect.
Aerial image of Hurricane Bill

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...