Episode #2 of the course “Rare and Unusual Weather Phenomena”
In 2007, rare coastal conditions of Yamba, northern New South Wales, Australia, resulted in a one-of-a-kind demonstration of the churning power of water as it mixes up debris in the water to create an ocean foam. The event along the shoreline of this spot in Australia came to be known as the “Cappuccino Coast” because the frothy ocean mixture resembled the foam at the top of a cappuccino. At the Cappuccino Coast, foam swallowed up the whole coast, including the lifeguard center and half the shoreline buildings. Although somewhat destructive to property, the ocean foam was light and could easily be handled by visitors to the shoreline.
Spectators to this unique event took pictures that depict cars driving through foam that could be mistaken for snow. The foam gave swimmers, surfers, and spectators a unique display of awesome natural power.
The rare ocean foam phenomenon happens when ocean impurities such as seaweed excretions, plant and animal material, chemicals, and salts are churned by choppy ocean waves, creating bubbles that get trapped under water. As the bubbles are pushed to the shore they are rapidly shuffled to the surface, and their clinging together in this rapid movement creates a soft foam. The Cappuccino Coast phenomenon ranged as far as 30 miles out to sea and took days to fully clear away. Although no serious injuries were reported as a result of the foam, some ocean foam around the world had been considered dangerous because of its high levels of chemical toxins, including oil after oil spills in the ocean.
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