VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Russia says it has opened a research center dedicated to the study of "killer waves" that can threaten large cargo ships, ocean liners and oil platforms.
The dangerous phenomenon, also known as "rogue waves" or "freak waves," are giant, spontaneous ocean surface waves that occur far out at sea, scientists said.
Waves of up to 115 feet high, caused when physical factors such as high winds and strong currents cause smaller waves to merge to create a single exceptionally large wave, occur in all of the world's oceans many times every year and may present a serious hazard for maritime navigation, they said.
"The center will focus on the thorough research of extreme waves in the oceans," Russia's Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok said in a statement.
"The center will also work on the prediction of this dangerous phenomenon and the development of protective measures," the statement said.
The center opened Friday in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, RIA Novosti reported.