Ocean water is continuous in motion: north-south, east-west, alongshore, and vertically. Seawater motions are the an outcome of waves, tides, and also currents (Figure below). Ocean movements are the consequence of many separate factors: wind, tides, Coriolis effect, water density differences, and also the shape of the s basins. Water movements and their reasons will be debated in this lesson.

You are watching: The vertical distance between the crest and the trough of a wave is called the ____.


Ocean tide transfer power through the water over good distances.


Waves have been debated in previous chapters in several contexts: seismic tide traveling with the planet, sound waves traveling v seawater, and ocean tide eroding beaches. Waves transport energy and the size of a wave and also the street it travels depends on the quantity of energy that that carries.

Wind Waves

This lesson research studies the most acquainted waves, those ~ above the ocean’s surface. Ocean waves originate indigenous wind blow – stable winds or high storm winds – over the water. Occasionally these winds are much from whereby the s waves are seen. What factors produce the biggest ocean waves?

The largest wind waves type when the wind

is an extremely strongblows steadily because that a long timeblows over a lengthy distance

The wind might be strong, but if that gusts for simply a quick time, large waves won’t form.

Wind blowing across the water transfers power to that water. The energy first creates small ripples that develop an uneven surface ar for the wind to record so the it may create larger waves. These waves travel throughout the s out that the area wherein the wind is blowing.

Remember the a tide is a transport of energy. Do you think the very same molecules that water the starts out in a wave in the middle of the ocean later arrive at the shore?

Water molecule in waves do circles or ellipses (Figure below). Power transfers in between molecules yet the molecules themselves mostly bob up and down in place.

In this animation, a water party bobs in place like a water molecule:

An animation of motion in wind waves from the Scripps institution of Oceanography:


The circles show the motion of a water molecule in a wind wave. Wave energy is best at the surface and also decreases with depth. A mirrors that a water molecule travels in a circular activity in deep water. B reflects that molecule in shallow water travel in one elliptical path since of the s bottom.

An computer animation of a deep water tide is seen here:

An computer animation of a shallow water tide is watched here:

When walk a tide break? carry out waves only break once they with shore? tide break when they come to be too tall to be supported by their base. This can happen at sea yet happens predictably together a tide moves up a shore. The power at the bottom the the wave is shed by friction with the floor so the the bottom of the wave slows down but the height of the wave continues at the very same speed. The crest falls over and crashes down.

Local surface ar Currents

The surface currents described over are all big and unchanging. Local surface currents are also found follow me shorelines (Figure below). 2 are longshore currents and rip currents.


Longshore currents move water and also sediment parallel to the shore in the direction of the prevailing local winds.

Rip currents are potentially dangerous currents that carry big amounts that water offshore quickly. Look in ~ the rip-current computer animation to recognize what to execute if girlfriend are captured in a rip current: Each summer in the United says at the very least a couple of people die as soon as they are captured in rip currents.

This computer animation shows the surface currents in the Caribbean, the Gulf the Mexico, and the Atlantic s off of the southeastern joined States:

Wave activity and Erosion

Have you ever before been come visit a beach? part beaches have actually large, solid rolling tide that increase up and collapse as they crash right into the shore. All waves are energy traveling v some type of material (Figure 10.13). The waves that we room most familiar with travel with water. Most of these waves type from wind blowing end the water; periodically steady winds the blow and also sometimes indigenous a storm that creates over the water. The energy of tide does the work of erosion once a tide reaches the shore. Once you find a item of frosted glass along a beach, you have found some evidence of the work of waves. What various other evidence could you find?


As wind blows over the surface ar of the water, it disturbs the water, producing the acquainted shape the a wave. You deserve to see this shape in number 10.14. The highest part of a tide is called the wave crest. The lowest component is dubbed the wave trough. The vertical distance from the highest part of a tide to the shortest is dubbed the wave height. The horizontal distance in between one tide crest and the following crest, is dubbed the wavelength. Three things influence how huge a wave can get. If the wind is very strong, and also it blows steadily because that a long time over a lengthy distance, the really largest waves will form. The wind could be strong, however if it gusts for simply a short time, big waves won’t form. Bigger waves do an ext work of erosion which alters our shorelines. Every day the waves break along the shore, they stability erode away a minute bit of the shoreline. Once one day, a really big storm like a hurricane arrives, it will carry out a lot of of damages in simply a very short time.

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As waves come into shore, they normally reach the coast at some angle. This means one component of the tide reaches shallow water sooner than the components of the wave that are more out. Together a wave comes into shore, the water ‘feels’ the bottom which slows under the wave. For this reason the shallower parts of the wave slow-moving down more than the parts that are further from the shore. This renders the wave ‘bend’, i beg your pardon is referred to as refraction. The method that tide bend together they come right into shore either concentrates wave power or disperses it. In quiet water areas like bays, wave power is dispersed and also sand it s okay deposited. Locations like cliffs that stick out right into the water, room eroded away by the solid wave energy that concentrates its strength on the cliff (Figure 10.15).