Wind Wave - Atlantic Ocean | Montauk, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Artist's Description

In fluid dynamics, wind waves, or wind-generated waves, are surface waves that occur on the free surface of oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and canals or even on small puddles and ponds. They result from the wind blowing over an area of fluid surface. Waves in the oceans can travel thousands of miles before reaching land. Wind waves range in size from small ripples, to waves over 100 ft (30 m) high.

When directly generated and affected by local winds, a wind wave system is called a wind sea. After the wind ceases to blow, wind waves are called swells. More generally, a swell consists of wind-generated waves that are not significantly affected by the local wind at that time. They have been generated elsewhere or some time ago. Wind waves in the ocean are called ocean surface waves.

Wind waves have a certain amount of randomness: subsequent waves differ in height, duration, and shape with limited predictability. They can be described as a stochastic process, in combination with the physics governing their generation, growth, propagation and decay—as well as governing the interdependence between flow quantities such as: the water surface movements, flow velocities and water pressure. The key statistics of wind waves (both seas and swells) in evolving sea states can be predicted with wind wave models.

Although waves are usually considered in the water seas of Earth, the hydrocarbon seas of Titan may also have wind-driven waves. Read more

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