By: Johanna Thurman

Wave information

What are Waves?
Waves are actually the energy moving across the ocean, not just the water having a party. The water particles only move around in small circles as the energy wave passes over them. Most of the energy comes from the wind, which causes the waves to travel along in the ocean until the energy is released on the shorelines. The wave motion stays on the top of the water, so the deeper water beneath hardly moves at all. As these surface waves approach beaches, they slow down because of the friction caused between the moving wave and the deeper, non-moving water and sea floor. And when the depth of the water is less than half of the length of the wave, the wave breaks, causing it to crash onto the beach. The biggest waves ever can be found in the open oceans, and the waves can get bigger the more they move and eat up energy from the wind. Waves can travel thousands of kilometers before reaching a beach, so by that time the waves are pretty massive.

Waves in the flesh
You can tell a waves origin by its size and shape. Lofty, steep waves are youngins', so they haven't been formed for very long, and were probably made my local wind. More slow and steady waves were made in far away places, maybe even from another hemisphere. How long the wind blows and the area over which it blows in one direction determines the height of the wave.

Wave Vocabulary!
  • Wave crest and trough: the highest point is the crest and the lowest point is the trough
  • Wave height: the vertical distance from the bottom of a trough to the top of the crest
  • Wave amplitude: one half of the wave height. I have no idea why you would need this
  • Wave period: when the waves get really violent and crave chocolate
  • Wavelength: the horizontal distance between two successive crests
  • Wave speed: when the speediest waves have a race
  • Wave frequency: the number of waves passing a given point during a one second time interval