How deep is an ocean wave? © Getty Images

How deep is an ocean wave?

There are many types of ocean wave, but how do you define the depth of a wave?

Asked by: Anonymous

Advertisement

There are many types of ocean wave: presumably you mean those in deep water driven by wind on the sea surface. Although those waves move constantly forward, the water itself moves up, round, down and back in an orbital motion that gets smaller the deeper you go. More precisely, the diameter and velocity of the orbit both fall off exponentially with depth. As a rule of thumb, the depth of the wave is about the same as the distance between peaks.


Advertisement

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.