Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado have produced a computer graphic that offers a possible scientific explanation for the more than 3000-year-old Biblical story of the parting of the Red Sea.
The graphic shows how a strong wind blowing east over the Nile Delta could have "pushed water back into ancient waterways after blowing for about nine hours," which would have exposed the ground underneath, allowing Moses and the Israelites to cross to safety as the Egyptian army pursued them.
The process is known as "wind setdown," which is defined as a drop in water level caused by wind stress acting on the surface of a body of water for an extended period of time.
Scientists and academics have long debated whether natural forces could have caused the parting of the Red Sea, with the most popular theories to date centering around volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.
The animation, below, is part of a master's thesis by atmospheric and oceanic sciences researcher Carl Drews, who had help from the National Science Foundation. Drews's research is published in the online journal PLoS One.
But Drews was not the first to examine wind as a cause of the ancient Biblical story. NCAR's website dutifully pays homage to a pair of Russian researchers, Naum Voltzinger and Alexei Androsov, who found that strong winds could have "exposed an underwater reef near the modern-day Suez Canal," which would have allowed the Israelites to walk across.
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