Wave Measurement — CDIP documentation
As the energy of a wave passes through water, the energy sets water particles into orbital motion as shown in Fig. Notice that water particles near the surface move in circular orbits with diameters approximately equal to the wave height. Notice also that the orbital diameter, and the wave energy, decreases deeper in the water. The energy of a deep-water wave does not touch the bottom in the open water Fig.
When deep-water waves move into shallow water, they change into breaking waves. When the energy of the waves touches the ocean floor, the water particles drag along the bottom and flatten their orbit Fig. At this point the water movement of particles on the surface transitions from swells to steeper waves called peaking waves Fig. Because of the friction of the deeper part of the wave with particles on the bottom, the top of the wave begins to move faster than the deeper parts of the wave.
When this happens, the front surface of the wave gradually becomes steeper than the back surface. At this point, the top of the wave travels so much faster than the bottom of the wave that top of the wave begins to spill over and fall down the front surface. This is called a breaking wave. A breaking wave occurs when one of three things happen:.
Exploring Our Fluid Earth
In some ways a breaking wave is similar to what happens when a person trips and falls. As a person walks normally, their feet and head are traveling forward at the same rate. If their foot catches on the ground, then the bottom part of their body is slowed by friction, while the top part continues at a faster speed see Fig. The transition of a wave from a deep-water wave to a shallow-water breaking wave is shown in Fig. Terms relating to wave depth a described in detail in Table 4. Deep-water waves include all wind-generated waves moving across the open ocean. Transitional waves are often wind-generated waves that have moved into shallower water.
Shallow-water waves include wind-generated waves that have moved into shallow, nearshore areas, tsunamis seismic waves generated by disturbances in the ocean floor, and tide waves generated by the gravitational attraction of the sun and moon. Breaking shallow-water waves are unstable shallow-water waves. Breaking unstable deep-water waves are waves that begin to break when the seas are confused waves from mixed directions or when the wind blows the crests off waves, forming whitecaps. Use a long wave tank to create and observe the differences between deep-water, transitional, and shallow-water waves.
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Properties of waves
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