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2007.09.01

Dangerous Freak Waves caused by Agulhas Current, off South Africa.

The Agulhas Current is the world’s second fastest ocean current and is known best for resulting in two occurrences. The first is causing potential peril on ships by way of rogue waves; the second is playing an important role in global climate patterns by way of influencing ocean temperatures. The current core runs seaward of the 100 fathom line, and Weathernews requests vessels to keep shoreward the 100 fathom line based on our hybrid current DB ( Analysis and Forecast.)

Agulhas Current

Photo of one of the Agulhas Current induced freak waves taken in 1980 off the oil freighter Esso Languedoc. Though not one of the larger Agulhas Current freak waves, the wave was estimated to be as high as 10 meters. Courtesy of University of Oslo, Norway.

The Agulhas Current is the world’s second fastest ocean current and is known best for resulting in two occurrences. The first is causing potential peril on ships by way of rogue waves; the second is playing an important role in global climate patterns by way of influencing ocean temperatures. The Agulhas Current flows from northeast to southwest down the South African coastline between 27 and 40 degrees south latitude. The current generally flows along or near the continental shelf, and at times the speed of the current can reach approximately 5 knots. When the current reaches Cape Agulhas, or just west of Cape Town, South Africa its speed becomes strong enough that the current loses its ability to hold the continental shelf and reverses direction and begins heading back to the northeast. (See Figure 1) This flow heads back into the Indian Ocean and aids in recirculation of the Agulhas Current. The Agulhas Current aids in transporting warm water from the Indian Ocean and Mozambique Channel pole ward. The Agulhas Current also feeds two other ocean currents; the Benguela Current in the South Atlantic, and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The current core runs seaward of the 100 fathom line, and Weathernews requests vessels to keep shoreward the 100 fathom line based on our current DB ( Analysis and Forecast.)

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