Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rip Currents Pose Greater Risk To Swimmers Than To Shoreline, Study Suggests

Date:
October 15, 2009
Source:
Stony Brook University
Summary:
Rip currents -- powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from the shore -- represent a danger to human life and property. Rip currents are responsible for more than one hundred deaths on our nation's beaches each year, and if rip currents persist long enough they can cause beach erosion. However, researchers found that rip currents along at least one beach in Long Island, New York lasted on average a little over one minute, not long enough to substantially alter the shoreline.

These are two rip currents along the East Hampton Village Beach about 100 yards apart. Rip currents can be recognized as a gap in the line of incoming waves.
Credit: Michael Slattery

Rip currents — powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from the shore — represent a danger to human life and property. Rip currents are responsible for more than one hundred deaths on our nation's beaches each year, according to the United States Lifesaving Association, and if rip currents persist long enough they can cause beach erosion.

Henry Bokuniewicz, Professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, and Ph.D. candidate Michael Slattery found that rip currents at East Hampton Village Beach lasted on average a little over one minute, not long enough to substantially alter the shoreline. They will present their findings October 14th at the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association's 2009 National Coastal Conference, "Integrating Coastal Science & Policy."

With funding from the East Hampton Beach Preservation Society and the Halpern Foundation, Dr. Bokuniewicz and graduate student Michael Slattery set up a video camera to record an image of a half mile stretch of the East Hampton Village Beach every 20 seconds. In the images, rip currents can be detected as a gap in the line of incoming waves. They collected over 500 hours of video images and observed hundreds of rip currents in this short stretch of coast.

The monitoring showed that the rip currents were not associated with man-made structures and they were short lived, with the most persistent rip currents lasting no more than a few minutes. "Most rip currents we observed did not last long enough to change the character of the shoreline, although they could pose a risk to swimmers unfortunate enough to encounter them," said Dr. Bokuniewicz.

Besides gathering statistics on the occurrence of rip currents, Dr. Bokuniewicz and Michael Slattery are studying the wave patterns that lead to rip currents. Rip currents are generated by a combination of waves, including, long, low, barely perceptible waves that appear along the ocean shoreline, called "infragravity waves." Infragravity waves cannot be measured directly and computer models are inadequate for predicting them. Bokuniewicz and Slattery are using a novel approach to study these waves; they deploy seismometers to measure the noise created by breaking waves.

"It appears that very slow, long-period changes in the amount of wave noise are precursors to the generation of rip currents," said Dr. Bokuniewicz. "We are hopeful that seismometers can be used to measure wave patterns that we can't easily observe in any other way. In the future, we hope to utilize this method to monitor and ultimately forecast wave conditions that cause rip currents."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stony Brook University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Stony Brook University. "Rip Currents Pose Greater Risk To Swimmers Than To Shoreline, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091013132131.htm>.
Stony Brook University. (2009, October 15). Rip Currents Pose Greater Risk To Swimmers Than To Shoreline, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091013132131.htm
Stony Brook University. "Rip Currents Pose Greater Risk To Swimmers Than To Shoreline, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091013132131.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Seismic Activity Halts Recovery at Japan Volcano

Seismic Activity Halts Recovery at Japan Volcano

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) Rescuers were forced to suspend plans to recover at least two dozen bodies from near the summit of Mount Ontake in central Japan on Tuesday after increased seismic activity raised concern about the possibility of another eruption. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) An Austrian balloon pilot has succeeded in taking a balloon deep underground, a feat which he believes is a world first. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Rescue crews finished recovering the remaining 27 bodies from atop Japan's Mount Ontake Monday. At least 31 people were killed Saturday in the mountain's first fatal volcanic event in modern history. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins