Were extreme waves in the Rockall Trough the largest ever recorded?

N P Holliday, M J Yelland, R Pascal, V R Swail, P K Taylor, Colin Griffiths, E Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


[1] In February 2000 those onboard a British oceanographic research vessel near Rockall, west of Scotland experienced the largest waves ever recorded by scientific instruments in the open ocean. Under severe gale force conditions with wind speeds averaging 21 ms(-1) a shipborne wave recorder measured individual waves up to 29.1 m from crest to trough, and a maximum significant wave height of 18.5 m. The fully formed sea developed in unusual conditions as westerly winds blew across the North Atlantic for two days, during which time a frontal system propagated at a speed close to the group velocity of the peak waves. The measurements are compared to a wave hindcast (AES40, Swail and Cox, 2000) which successfully simulated the arrival of the wave group but underestimated the most extreme waves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L05613
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Geosciences, Multidisciplinary


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