What causes waves? © iStock

What causes waves?

There's some motion in the ocean - but what's causing it?

Asked by: Benny Matthews, Oxford


They’re mainly due to the wind. The surface of a calm patch of water becomes stirred up by the frictional effect of the wind blowing over it, forming ripples. These ripples increase the amount of ‘grip’ the wind has on the surface, increasing the amount of energy it can transfer and causing the water to form waves. Coming into a beach, they rise up until collapsing into surf.


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