Surf’s up: Learning to forecast the waves
Walter Munk was never much of a surfer, but that hasn’t kept him from becoming a legend in the sport. An oceanographer by training, Munk has spent 67 years studying how waves form, how they travel and how they break when they hit the beach. In the second world war, he saved countless lives by helping the Allied military determine when troops could make amphibious landings without being swamped by big surf hundreds of metres from a hostile shore. After the war, Munk’s methods helped surfers find the biggest waves. Today, anyone who checks out a surf forecast on the internet is drawing on his pioneering research.