#WaveWatching Insta recap: December 2019

There was a lot of wave watching going on on my Insta @fascinocean_kiel this last December! Partly because I had decided that I wanted my feed to consist of both my 24 days of kitchen oceanography advent calendar and my usual wave watching content. And once I had started the pattern, I wasn’t going to break it… But here I will only recap the wave watching part, check out the advent calendar on its own page.

December started off with what has become a bit of a pattern recently: wave watching from the train. It’s always surprising to me how much you can actually see from a train window! Below, for example, the reflection of the bridge in the water helps see the prevalent wave lengths.

Next: wave watching on my way to work! My commute is pretty awesome for sight seeing!

Here we see a wake hitting the pier.

In early December, I went to Nuremberg for work. But of course I managed to squeeze in a little wave watching there, too! The river Pegnitz is very much tamed inside the city, which leads to very pretty flow pattern. For example this submerged hydraulic jump below.

Doesn’t it look spooky how the reflection of the houses is deformed where the water shoots down the weir?

And here is a different hydraulic jump. I love the little wakes that show up around the disturbances on the weir!

My friend Nena took this picture of me wave watching in Nuremberg. You bet I will manage to find waves!

And then some more conventional sight seeing…

Getting distracted by drops falling into the Pegnitz… Isn’t it cool how the wave rings are being advected with the current, so that despite the drops all falling on the same spot in space, the wave rings don’t end up concentric?

And some rapids — with hydraulic jumps! — on the Pegnitz.

Back in Kiel!

The different colors in the sky make it very easy to observe pattern in the waves. The sides of the waves that are sloping towards us reflect the bright sky above us, the slopes facing away from us the dark clouds.

Windy day! See the foam that has been blown with the wind and collected at the shore?

We also see the stripes that form when strong winds blow in a consistent manner for a long period of time: Langmuir circulation!

Then, one day, I saw really cool ripple pattern in the sand. At the very top, ripples in the waves. At the very bottom, ripples in the sand. In between, slightly larger breaking waves, and at the top right stripes of darker matter aligning with the waves‘ direction of travel. I wish I knew more about the transition between the light material being sorted into stripes and the the whole sandy sea floor being shaped into ripples. I guess it’s a function of water depth as well as wave length (so how much energy actually reaches the bottom), can anyone explain it?

And I got this comment by @coastalgeology.kiel: “Dear Mirjam, the beautiful ubiquitous regular bedform structures sure are fascinating in their regularity. Note the long symmetric ripple crests that merge and diverge (=bifurcations). This is a nice question about stability: The sea bed moves if it can… And fine sand may form symmetric ripples if the back and forth motion of the waves is strong enough to move, but not too strong to wash away the structures. The wavelength of the ripples scales with the orbital velocity and the period of the waves and the bed sediment characteristics (grain size and roughness). If no sand is available, if it is too coarse, or the bed and wave characterists change, ripples cannot form. In your photo this is the case in the vicinity of the algae, and in the region of shell hash, which is transported (partly in strikes) but does not form ripples itself…”

Next day: Watching swans and their wakes.

And then: back to work. Watching the rain on a puddle…

And I guess the next day I wasn’t feeling like grey Hamburg weather, so I dreamt myself back to sunny Bergen!

Then, more wave watching from the train. Today with a ship’s wake as well as the wake that forms at the bridge’s pylon because there is a strong current on Elbe river.

And then, I went on a trip with my godson & his family to Möhnesee. We’ve been there before (you might remember the very cool hoar frost we saw there), but it’s always worth a trip!

It was a very windy day, so we got to see some nice wave action.

The gusts of wind ran over the surface of the lake, making the weirdest pattern.

Fun to see how in the lee of the land the water surface is absolutely flat, but the further out of the lee you move, the more wave action happens!

Also really interesting to see how little water there is in the reservoir, and how previous water levels are still archived in the stripes of debris on the shore.

And: A foam stripe parallel to the wall!

This is always such an interesting place to visit!

Here the downstream side of the reservoir. Quite impressive!

And then: Some gold fish watching!

I didn’t use any filters or anything on these pictures, the fish were really that colorful! Here with some waves after a pebble happened to drop into the pond…

And some wind waves.

And the super spooky reflection of the dark, naked tree skeletons in the back…

I love how there are so many layers visible here from the reflection at the surface to fish at different depths. This might actually be one of my favourite wave watching pics of all times!

But then I of course always love water running into water, making waves…

Some more layers here: Reflections, surface waves, stuff floating in the water, ripples on the ground…

Oh, and then the one day where I only managed to see the water by proxy of seeing the cranes at the port of Kiel across the city.

But making up for it with my porthole back home, and my Christmas tableware that I found a couple of years ago and that I loooove despite (or because of?) its horrible kitschyness.

But: Back to proper waves!

I love how you can see all these different stages of wave breaking at once: Waves that are still far out don’t seem to have distinct crests, but the closer they get to shore, the more pronounced the crests become. Steeper and steeper, until they finally break and a water-and-foam mixture is pushed up on the sand.

Below, what I find most fascinating is this really smooth-looking stripe parallel to the wave crests, in between the one that is breaking and the one that is about to break. Of course there can’t be wind waves on water that has just been through a wave-break, but still! Fascinating!

Similar thing here.

I also think it’s super cool to watch the foam vanish on the sand. It doesn’t get pulled back into the sea, it just seeps down into the shore.

Looking back at these pictures makes me really happy. Such a great day :-)

Below, you can see the little foam-free circles, where large bubbles just popped.

More wave stages: In the very front the left-over foam, then foam just being pushed on shore, and then a wave juuuust about to break. So cool!

And now properly breaking!

So cool how far the water is being pushed up the beach even after the wake already broke!

It’s just sooooo beautiful!

Meeting up with some scicomm friends! Of course this had to include some wave watching…

What I find super fascinating here is how a sharp gradient in the sea floor makes waves break instantaneously, leaving this turbulent pattern that looks so much like lace!

More wave watching from the train: The bridge’s pylon’s wake!

And water wrapping around a stone in a very cool way.

Rainy Christmas morning.

And: Throwing a pebble into a small stream. See the first splash?

And then the pillar?

And then all the wave rings?

And growing wave rings?

And even larger wave rings?

And a wave riddle for you: Why is there such a bow wave on a ship that is clearly moored?

More port of Hamburg!

And a little wave watching in the dark. See how the reflection of the Christmas tree looks very different depending on how many waves there are on the water’s surface?

More wave watching from the train!

Beautiful wake!

And here we go with my Instagram’s “top 9 of 2019” pictures (according to how many likes they got):

  • two pictures of the port of Hamburg (thanks to my beautiful commute!)
  • two pictures taken from the ferry on my way home after 2019’s Bergen month
  • and a lot of Kiel fjord pics with wave watching, cloud watching, and ship watching!

Funnily enough, a different algorithm (because I was too impatient to wait for the first one I tried) came up with a slightly different selection. Love that seagull!

So here we go, that was my December 2019 wave watching Insta!

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