An animated GIF guide to the indoor oceans


Before setting any vessel or offshore structure into the sea, you need to figure out whether it will survive the ocean’s wrath. Meet the University of Maine’s new W2 Ocean Engineering lab. Scale winds of 200 mph. Scale waves 100 m tall. Fans that rotate 360 degrees around the tank to make winds from any angle. It’s going to beat the crap out of anything you put in it. Perfect for destroying testing all your deep ocean maritime designs!



Dear Florida, I think you’ve made a grave mistake. For a state that is hit by so many hurricanes, it seems as though you have tempted fate with your motto: “In God We Trust”. Perhaps you should consider “SITTIN’ IN UR STORM PATH, WAITING FOR U TO MESS UP OUR COASTS”? But until Florida decides to move, the University of Miami is ON IT. They’ve built an indoor hurricane simulator called SUSTAIN (SUrge-STructure-Atmosphere INteraction Facility) that makes giant waves and Category 5 winds. That is more than 156 mph! This hellacious hurricane in a tube will be used to study hurricane intensity (which we still can’t predict so well) and the structural stability of buildings and structures on the coast (which we still insist on building).



And now for something a bit more zen, the calming rhythm of the wave makers at the Plymouth COAST Lab in England.


But don’t be fooled, this tank is designed to mess things up. When it isn’t hypnotizing humans, this tank can create waves and currents in any direction, built to trash anything you want to build near a coastline.

AMOEBA. Any wave, any shape, any size.

Of course I would learn about this awesome wave tank that can literally spell via a crazy Japanese TV show. Using 50 wave generators arranged in a circle, the AMOEBA (Advanced Multiple Organized Experimental Basin) at Akishima Laboratories (Mitsui Zosen) can generate the entire roman alphabet, a handful of Japanese characters or any wave shape you can think of.

Here’s a star!


And a heart!


And a giant 4m tall focused wave made in the big tank!


The funny part about the water spelling technology, it is designed for decorating hotel lobbies. “Welcome to the Motel 6” has never looked so fantastic. But it is based on a technology to test offshore structures and maritime vessel in extreme ocean wave conditions. And for that, you need the big guns. Namely this FloWave Ocean Simulator at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Bigger, Better, Wavier. YESSSSSS.




SPOILER ALERT: If you are ever going to take a geophysical fluid dynamics laboratory class, you are going to spend a lot of time looking at things that spin. Spinning tanks that recreate a spinning planet. Spinning vortices in the spinning tanks. Equations describing spinning vortices on a spinning earth. SO. MUCH. SPIN.


The Coriolis rotating platform is that tiny classroom tank on steroids. The biggest rotating tank in the world, it has a diameter of 13 m and you can stand on it while it’s rotating.


Built in 1960, the Coriolis platform has been operating for more than 50 years and been used to study waves, wakes, gravity currents and whole slew of other geophysical fluid processes. It just got an overhaul in 2011, making it taller, faster and just plain better at scienceing. At top speed, the tank can make 6 full rotations in a minute. All I’m saying is you had better be jogging pretty swiftly if you want to hop on safely when it’s rotating at top speed.