Ocean Surface Waves: Earth

Earth Ocean Surface Waves

Ocean surface waves are surface waves that happen on the surface of an ocean. Ocean surface waves present the most picturesque demonstration of the condition of the sea. 

The present-day research on waves has emerged through a pioneer study by Sverdrup and Munk (1947). Hence, the study on ocean waves has advanced to a great extent in the last half-century. Several fundamental studies gave the latest numerical wave models, which help us to calculate surface waves on a global range with adequate precision for practical purposes. 

Ocean surface waves are the result of faraway winds or geologic effects like earthquakes or vulcanicity. These are capable of traveling thousands of miles before hitting the land. Their size can vary from tiny ripples to more massive tsunamis. All these factors work simultaneously to decide the shape and size of ocean waves. The higher the variables, the larger the waves. Measured by:

  • Height (from trough to crest)
  • Wavelength (from crest to crest)
  • Period (time interval between the arrival of consecutive crests at a stationary point) 

The atmospheric energy gives rise to an aerodynamically rough ocean surface with large, unstable waves. Moreover, this results in water motion, which is the most vigorous phenomenon that occurs in the marine-aquatic environment. Three-dimensional waves exhibit some directive escalate against the wind direction.

Ocean Surface Waves Studies Can Be Roughly Divided Into A Few Groups Like

  1. The theoretical works on wave mechanics and its modeling, 
  2.  The interaction of surface waves and engineering structures in deep and shallow waters,
  3. The influence of surface waves on the interaction between atmosphere and oceans. 

A commencing equilibrium state is required to originate a wave, which is ruffled by a disturbance and compensated by a restoring force. 

Triggering mechanisms are fundamentally generated by local wind, seismic oscillations of the earth during earthquakes, atmospheric pressure gradients, and gravitational attraction between the Earth, Sun, and Moon. Usually, gravity compensates for these forces. Although surface tension has a significant role to play for very short waves, substantial perturbations like the ones produced by gravity tend to be restored by the Coriolis force.

The whole fruitful oscillatory motion on the ocean surface is the fusion of varying wave types. Basically, according to the originating and refurbishing procedures, all those waves are primarily classified, from the tiniest to the largest, as follows:

Capillary wave

Earth Ocean Surface Waves
Earth Ocean Surface Waves

A wave in which the velocity of propagation is a function of the surface tension of the water. Wind waves of wavelength less than about 0.025 m are considered capillary waves.

Deepwater Wave

A wave for which water depth is more significant than one half the wavelength. Ocean wind waves are negligibly affected by the bottom in deep water.

Gravity Wave

A wave in which the velocity of propagation is a function of gravity.

Infragravity Wave

A surface gravity wave with a frequency lower than the frequencies directly generated by forcing through the wind.

Intermediate Water Waves

A term used to describe waves that are neither deepwater nor shallow-water waves.

Progressive Ocean Surface Waves

A wave in which the ratio of an instantaneous value at one point to that at any other point does not vary with time.


A standing wave in an enclosed or partially enclosed body of water such as lakes, reservoirs, swimming pools, bays, harbors, and seas.

Shallow Ocean Surface Waves

A wave for which the depth divided by the wavelength is less than approximately 1/20. Particular equations can approximate equations for streams for such shallow water, where waves are strongly affected by bottom depth.

Standing Ocean Surface Waves

A wave in a medium in which each point on the axis of the wave has an associated constant amplitude. Basically, the locations at which the amplitude is minimum, called nodes. Moreover, the locations where the amplitude is maximum, called antinodes.

Storm surge

A long wave resulting from strong onshore winds and reduced atmospheric pressure.


Wind waves that have traveled out of the generating area. Swell has more extended periods and a smoother appearance than wind sea.


Earth Ocean Surface Waves
Earth Ocean Surface Waves

The rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of gravitational forces exerted by the Moon, Sun, and rotation of the Earth.

Tsunami: Top Ocean Surface waves

A wave (or a series of waves) in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water. Basically, earthquakes, eruptions, landslides, and other disturbances above or below the ocean surface have the potential to generate a tsunami.

The waves produced induce motion through the water column affect a large number of marine processes and engineering activities that take place on the surface and in the most superficial sublayers of the ocean.

So, if you can clear your understandings about wave systems, you must enjoy your ocean life. You will feel comfortable as you can keep some control over the happenings during venturing. So, now, take care, keep a keen eye, and enjoy whether it’s a little expedition or a circumambulating escapade!!

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