Parting the waters: Computer modeling applies physics to Red Sea escape route - Multimedia Gallery

September 21, 2010

 

Multimedia Gallery

 

The biblical account of the parting of the Red Sea has inspired and mystified people for millennia. A new computer modeling study by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) shows how the movement of wind as described in the book of Exodus could have parted the waters.

The computer simulations show that a strong east wind, blowing overnight, could have pushed water back at a bend where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon along the Mediterranean Sea. With the water pushed back into both waterways, a land bridge would have opened at the bend, enabling people to walk across exposed mud flats to safety. As soon as the wind died down, the waters would have rushed back in.

red sea
The physics of a land bridge. This illustration shows how a strong wind from the east could push back waters from two ancient basins--a lagoon (left) and a river (right)--to create a temporary land bridge. New research suggests that such a physical process could have led to a parting of waters similar to the description in the biblical account of the Red Sea. (Illustration by Nicolle Rager Fuller. This image is freely available for media use. Please credit Nicolle Rager Fuller.)
Wind setdown in the Nile Delta. Sustained winds can cause an event known as a wind setdown in which water levels are temporarily lowered. This animation shows how a strong east wind over the Nile Delta could have pushed water back into ancient waterways after blowing for about nine hours, exposing mud flats and possibly allowing people to walk across. (©UCAR. Animation by Tim Scheitlin and Ryan McVeigh, NCAR. This video is freely available for media use. Please credit the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. For more information on how individuals and organizations may use UCAR images, see Media & nonprofit use*)
Carl Drews on wind setdown research. NCAR researcher Carl Drews discusses the results of a computer modeling study that shows how a sustained wind can affect water levels. (©UCAR. This video is freely available for media use. Please credit the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. For more information on how individuals and organizations may use UCAR images, see Media & nonprofit use*)
 

*Media & nonprofit use of images: Except where otherwise indicated, media and nonprofit use permitted with credit as indicated above and compliance with UCAR's terms of use. Find more images in the UCAR Digital Image Library.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.