What causes ocean waves to form

How do waves arise?

Forces of nature

They splash calmly on the beach, gently rock a boat, but also capsize large ships and wash away entire beaches - waves are one of the pristine forces of nature and have a decisive impact on the image of our coasts.

Differences in pressure and air turbulence

First of all, the wind blows over the surface of the water and ripples it slightly. A small difference in air pressure in front of and behind the crest of the wave and an air vortex in the wave trough amplify these small waves until gravity begins to act on the wave, making the valleys rounder and the crests steeper.

In shallower water, the waves hit the bottom and break

If a certain value is exceeded, the combs become unstable and break, and the first foam crowns appear. The propagation speed of the wave movement is initially still small, but can eventually become greater than the speed of the wind, which results in longer swell waves. In shallower water, the waves come into contact with the ground and break because the circular path of the water particles is so severely hindered that the speed of the particles in the crest of the wave is higher than the speed of movement of the wave itself. as the water pours over the wave front, it is steeper and the waves are longer, the crest of the wave tumbles down in front of the wave and plunging lakes are created. Particularly dangerous waves can also be caused by seaquakes and submarine volcanic eruptions.

Deformations of the water surface

Waves are deformations of the water surface. The individual water particles move on a circular path, the diameter of which decreases towards the depth. At a depth that corresponds to half the wavelength, there is finally no more circular motion. A progressive deformation gives the viewer the impression of a directed movement of water.

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