Waves

Energy In The Ocean

Definition

A wave is the movement of energy through a body of water. Waves only move up and down, never horizontally. They're measured from their highest point, known as a crest, to their lowest point, called a trough.
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Storms in the Water

Some storms happen in the water due to waves, such as tsunamis. Tsunamis are an extremely large type of wave caused by an earthquake beneath the ocean floor. They can cause great damage to cities located near the water.

What can waves do?

Waves can do many things, from causing extreme damage to being used for recreation. Waves can erode the beaches they're by and tsunamis can destroy cities. On the other hand, waves can be used for many aquatic sports such as surfing and water skiing. Waves can also be used as an energy source. Electricity generators can be put on the surface of the water. The power made from this can power things such as water pumps and power plants.

How are waves caused?

Waves are caused when wind blows across the water's surface and the energy transfers to the water. The friction created between the two causes the energy transfer. The size of the wave depends on the strength of the wind. Strong winds create larger waves and soft winds make smaller ones.

What are swells?

Swells are a type of wave that travels a very long distance across the ocean. They aren't developed by common winds, they're made by storms in the distance. Most of the time, swells are smooth but they can sometimes be choppier. Like regular waves, they're measured from their crest to their trough.

Currents

Ocean currents are the continuous motion of waves in the ocean. Some currents flow beneath the surface of the water while others flow on the surface. Currents on the surface are most often caused by the wind while deep ocean currents can be caused by things such as the density of the water, the amount of salt in it, and changes in temperature. There are types of currents known as rip currents that can be extremely dangerous. They are very strong currents that can pull people out to sea and can only happen at large lakes, oceans, and seas.
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Breakers

Breakers are the white colored waves that crash onto the shore. Before the reach shore, the travel as swells. Because the water becomes shallower as waves near the shore, the waves begin to touch the floor. The friction created as this happens causes the waves to slow down and change shape. As soon as the wave reaches a certain height, the wave's crest collapses. If it crashes onto the shore, surf is created
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Rogue Waves

Rogue waves are surface waves that are very large and unpredictable. They occur in open water and can be extremely dangerous to ships, including large ones such as ocean liners. They're quite rare and come without warning suddenly, which makes them even more dangerous. They're often defined as being twice as big or more than a normal wave. Rogue waves are surely not the largest waves found in the ocean, but they are still unusually big. Waves are considered rogue waves depending on the ocean.

Wave Facts

  • In Lituya Bay, Alaska the tallest wave ever was recorded and reached 1,719 feet.
  • Surface currents are an important part of traveling at sea because they can either make it very difficult or very easy.
  • Some types of marine animals use currents to migrate to breeding grounds thousands of miles away.
  • Waters in the Northern Hemisphere are moved in a clockwise direction by the wind and they're moved counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Waves sometimes move in opposite directions during storms.
Click Here to Watch "Explaining Waves"

Explaining Waves is a video that talks about waves in a way that kids can understand, as the video shows kids explaining what waves are along with other facts.