Waves are gorgeous and remind you of how beautiful nature really is! Let’s discuss what causes these wonderful waves.
Envision yourself sunbathing. In the heart of a beautiful beach, you sprawl upon a comfortable soft beach bed. You welcome the shimmering rays of the sun and beseech the surreal splashes of the sea to soothe your worries. The waves continue to break and before you know it, you are sprinting towards the shore. The waves knock you down and quickly ebb away. Some approach you as tiny ripples on the water surface and others as enormous monsters. You wail in ecstasy as the rushes of adrenaline coax you to fight them with all your might when they retreat. You are one with nature and the experience is indisputably magnificent! You cup your hands and collect the foam created by the waves. You stare at the bubbles glimmering with the sun’s effect. It reminds you of the sea’s awe inspiring power. The astounding image steals your breath and then an unasked question pops into your head - “What causes the magical phenomenon that we call waves?” The name implies that wind is the driving force behind waves, but we must know that there is a lot more to wave formation. If you continue reading, you will know exactly what.
Causes Of Waves
The most immediate answer to what causes waves would be the movement of air. The ongoing friction between molecules of air and water lead to energy transference from the wind to the water hence explaining the appearance of waves. As the wind blows over the water, it tries to drag the surface of the water with it. However, many differing factors such as tides, interactions between waves, earthquakes or volcanic activity, and atmospheric disturbances all contribute to the formation of waves.
Speed of Wind
The stronger the impact of the wind, the greater is the sea’s propensity to create waves. The faster the wind is blowing, the bigger will be the waves. Remember how the waves are astonishingly higher during a storm? That is because the size of the waves is directly proportional to the velocity of the wind.
Wind Distance (Fetch) And Wind Time Duration
The wind speed consequently depends on the distance covered by the wind and the wideness of the space upon which the wind is blow!ing. If the distance covered by the wind is more, the power of the wind increases. Since the ocean surface is such an open area, very few impediments that may resist and decrease the wind speed are found. No wonder ocean waves are so mighty! Similarly if the wind blows for extended time duration, larger will be the size of the waves owing the additional friction between the water and air molecules.
Earthquakes And Tsunamis
Tidal waves are common phenomena that occur when underwater earthquakes and volcanic eruptions disrupt the water's surface. Waves arising due to earthquakes are a whole lot bigger and often have devastating consequences. These gigantic waves may even sweep across the coastal areas with not much warning. The scientific reasoning behind this is a drastic shift in the tectonic plates beneath the ocean floor. Whenever one tectonic plate encroaches upon another, an unanticipated gust of water gains momentum and splashes against the land in the form of massive threatening waves which is popularly referred to as ‘Tsunamis’.
The surface water rises primarily because of its disability to move as fast as air. The moment it rises, gravity pulls down the water wave. The energy of this clashing water carried under the surface induces water pressure from below to enable the water to bounce back up again. The constant tug of war between gravity and water pressure creates wave motion.
What Causes Waves To Break?
The depth of water and wavelength are two important variables in the wave breaking phenomenon. Waves that break near the shoreline break due to the water’s shallowness. As the wave inches closer and closer towards the land, an upward push provided by the rising ground enables the wave crest to go higher and higher, until it fails to exceed its maximum height. Those waves that crash in the middle of the ocean do so as a result of collision with a wave coming in from the opposite direction.
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