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Monster Wave Rocks the Southern Ocean

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A wave as tall as a five-story building swelled, reared its head, and slammed back into the Southern Ocean on May 20, The Weather Channel reports. Scientists say it was one of the largest ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, surrounds the lowermost continent, mingling upward into the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. It’s a realm of strong, persistent westerly winds and “unlimited fetch” (a term defined as “an area of ocean surface over which the wind blows in a constant direction,” and not “cool.” Sorry, Gretchen). These extreme conditions combine to regularly roll up waves, but none like the 63-foot giant that crashed through over the weekend.

The wave activity was picked up by a buoy newly installed in the waters near Campbell Island, New Zealand.

"The buoy is performing extremely well so far," according to a statement by oceanographer Tom Durrant of MetOcean Solutions, the company that monitors the buoy. "Not only is it surviving these large waves, but it is making detailed recordings of extreme sea states in the Southern Ocean, a region rarely observed by in-situ instruments.”

Durant says understanding how the ocean rocks and rolls in extreme conditions can help scientists understand waves and the relationship between air and water.

He added, “This, in turn, will lead to improvements in the models used to simulate the waves, providing better forecasts, both for the Southern Ocean and for the wider region.”

[h/t The Weather Channel]

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Weather Watch
Why Does the Sky Look Green Before a Tornado?
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A common bit of folklore from tornado-prone parts of the U.S. says that when the skies start taking on an emerald hue, it's time to run inside. But why do tornadoes tend to spawn green skies in the first place? As SciShow's Michael Aranda explains, the answer has to do with the way water droplets reflect the colors of the light spectrum.

During the day, the sky is usually blue because the shorter, bluer end of the light spectrum bounces off air molecules better than than redder, longer-wavelength light. Conditions change during the sunset (and sunrise), when sunlight has to travel through more air, and when storms are forming, which means there are more water droplets around.

Tornadoes forming later in the day, around sunset, do a great job of reflecting the green part of the light spectrum that's usually hidden in a sunset because of the water droplets in the clouds, which bounce green light into our eyes. But that doesn't necessarily mean a twister is coming—it could just mean a lot of rain is in the forecast. Either way, heading inside is probably a good idea.

For the full details on how water and light conspire to turn the sky green before a storm, check out the SciShow video below.

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Weather Watch
New Contest Will Give Kids the Chance to Become Weather Channel Meteorologists for a Day
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Not every kid dreams of being an on-air meteorologist, but for young ‘uns obsessed with storm forecasts and local weather reports, a new contest presents a unique opportunity to live out their dreams. The Mini Meteorologist Contest, sponsored by Lands’ End, will give four kids a chance to present a weather report on The Weather Channel this summer.

The nationwide contest is open to future meteorologists in the U.S. and Canada ages 6 to 16. To enter, they just have to write an essay between 50 and 500 words long on why they love learning about science and weather and why they’d like to be a meteorologist for a day. Four winners will receive a trip for them and their parents to The Weather Channel’s headquarters in Atlanta. They’ll have the opportunity to report the weather for the show on July 12, which happens to be National Summer Learning Day.

The essays will be judged based in equal parts on creativity, grammar, and the entrant’s love of meteorology. The only rules for the essays are that they can’t mention any products or brands other than Lands’ End or The Weather Channel (so no essays about how L.L. Bean inspired your love of cloud formations, kids) and has to be the child’s original work. Kids who are chosen as semi-finalists will have their on-air presentation skills judged in a Skype interview.

Should they win, they’ll get an inclusive trip to Atlanta with media training, a tour of The Weather Channel headquarters, and a $500 Lands’ End gift card to get just the right weather-reporting wardrobe.

The deadline for entering is May 21. Essays can be submitted here.

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