by Rebecca Roberts
Aug. 6, 2002
comes to mind when you hear the words "technology" and
"surfing" in the same sentence? Surfing the
Web, perhaps? Well, today we're going to tell you about using the
Internet and satellite technology to find real waves. The World's
Rebecca Roberts has been studying the latest, and most sophisticated,
methods being used by surfers to find the best ocean waves.
RR: Using very sophisticated satellite data, wind speed and wind
pressure data to find the perfect wave. All of these satellites
that are orbiting the earth and sending data back to weather services
are all available online and surfers have discovered them. So they
use this weather data to look for the great ride.
Announcer: So, dude, tell me how this happens
RR: These are Web sites that convey data for things like ocean circulation
and global climate studies. They're used by scientists, geophysicists,
to understand how the ocean moves. All of this information is actually
online. The satellites basically locate potential storms, and they
show up as images that look like a weather map on TV. But you need
to know how close to the water those storms are to know what kind
of effect they're going to have on the waves. There's also data
of the surface air pressure, the surface wind speed, the height
of the ocean surface, wave direction, and wave height. Actually,
you need to check a couple of different satellites to get all of
that data, but ultimately, if you're able to piece it all together,
that will tell you how close the storm is and how much of an effect
it's actually having on the ocean, and whether or not it will include
some sweet waves.
Announcer: What's the recipe for a sweet wave?
RR: Basically, big storms equal big waves. When storms start to
whip up a good wind speed, and the wind speed creates chop, every
so often a wave accumulates that is basically a couple of waves
slamming into each other. That one wave travels a little faster
and a little farther than the smaller waves, and it kind of stands
out on its own. That's what surfers are looking for: a big, thick,
50-foot wave that's not in the middle of all this other rough that
the storm is causing.
Announcer: Can you have a picture of yourself taken on one of these
waves by a spy satellite?
RR: Not just the spy cam satellites, but there are Webcams of most
of the hot surfing spots, so that if you think maybe you'll get
a couple of hours at the end of the day to go check out the waves
at Half Moon Bay, you can log onto the net, look at the Webcam,
and see if there are any waves there today.