The legendary waves off northern Peru •

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the Pacific coast of northern Peru, which is home to sone of the world’s longest waves. These waves along the fishing town of Puerto Malabrigo (Chicama) are legendary among surfers.

“While some famous wave breaks around the world can be ridden for seconds, the breaks at Chicama can be ridden for minutes,” reports NASA.

“The swells responsible for Chicama’s famous waves are visible in this image, acquired on March 23, 2021, with the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. Notice the row after row of the waves neatly lining up as they approach the coast.”

Andrew Thomas, an oceanographer at the University of Maine, explained that the swell is generated by storm systems and weather fronts hundreds to thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean, and occasionally the Southern Ocean. As the waves move across the open water, this with similar wavelengths and speed become sorted and start to travel together. “Because the coast of Peru is very deep, these large swells will continue their journey until very close to shore,” said Thomas. 

He noted that the waves arriving from the open ocean roll nearly parallel to this part of Peru’s coastline. “This is not common in Peru or Chile, where the waves mostly just crash into a coast that is perpendicular to the direction of swell propagation,” said Thomas. 

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day