Water Waves: What Creates Ocean Waves?

By Accessible Science on Aug 14, 2014

Perkins School for the Blind Secondary school student Jonah LeDuc shares his science fair research experiment "What Creates Ocean Waves?"


Listen to Jonah's Radio Interview:


What creates ocean waves?

What I Already Know About This Topic:

I know very little about this topic.  I know that ocean waves are transverse because the water is moving up and down as the wave moves forward.  One reason waves are created is vibration.  When you jump into a pool, sometimes waves are created.

What I Want to Learn:

I want to learn how waves are created and why they exist.  Some waves are very tall and other waves are very low.  How can this be?


Jonah at radio interview

What I Learned:

There are many different causes of ocean waves.  The main cause of ocean waves is the wind.  Some other causes are tides (water movement), undersea earthquakes, volcanoes, and disturbances in the atmosphere.  The size of the wave depends on the speed of the wind and the length of time during which the wind is blowing.  The size of the wave also depends on the amount of water that is exposed to the wind.  Wave height or amplitude depends on the speed of the wind and the length of water in which it travels.
A tsunami is a massive rapidly moving wave caused by an extreme disruption of the ocean floor such as earthquakes, landslides, and in some cases volcanic eruption.  Tsunamis are commonly confused with tidal waves, and yet they have no relationship to tidal waves.  Tidal waves result from the amount of gravitational force between the sun and the moon. They also happen ever day, whereas tsunamis occur only during undersea disturbances.  Tsunamis occur in coastal areas in the Pacific Ocean.

What Kind of Research Can Be Done to Learn More About This Topic:

If I could learn more about this topic, I would like to learn if the melting of the polar icecaps would affect ocean waves.  When the ice melts, the volume of water would be greater. Would the water eventually rise and crash over buildings like a tsunami? Would normal sized waves be monsterous? Would tsunamis be two or three times higher than normal?



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