Introduction: Significant Waves
The introduction introduces readers to the community of scientists who work in ocean wave prediction and modeling and observes that these researchers understand waves through practices of abstraction (visual, mathematical, computational), here theorized as kinds of “reading,” or modes of sense making and sensing. The introduction also sets up the central argument of the book: that scientists read waves as media that tell stories about possible environmental, sociotechnical, and planetary futures. The futures about which researchers care depend, in turn, on their orientations and expectations about and loyalties to various national, global, market-based, or humanitarian frames of reference. These are the contexts in which waves become significant. The introduction works through the image of “the wake” as a marker of human-ocean histories and “the break” as a symbol of unpredictable ocean futurity.