Environment

The science of the surf

0 Comments 22 January 2015

The science of the surf | NIWA

SouthCoastDaveAllenNiwaNothing says summer holiday quite like the rhythmical sigh of waves breaking gently on a sun-drenched shore.
But waves are so much more than a soothing accompaniment to our afternoon nap: they’re the outcome of a fascinating combination of physical processes, they tell us a lot about the nature of the wind and the seabed, and they play a crucial role in shaping our coastal landscapes over the short and long term.
Photo by Dave Allen NIWA
“Waves begin life when there is some sort of disturbance to the ocean surface,” explains NIWA coastal oceanographer Dr Scott Stephens. “Usually that disturbance is caused by the wind. 

“Friction between the air and the sea surface transfers some of the wind’s energy into the water, and the water particles then carry that energy along until it is released onto a beach or rocky shore, which could be thousands of kilometres away.

“The size of a wave depends on the amount of energy that the wind transfers to the water surface; this is controlled by the strength, duration and distance – or ‘fetch’ – that the wind blows.”

Continue reading NIWA:  Summer Series #4: The science of the surf

Reference also:  Ocean is stronger than sand

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