Tag Archives: wave height

Same wind, different waves, or: the influence of fetch length on the size of waves

I just found this picture that I took back in May near my friend Elin’s cabin on an island in western Norway, and it’s a really nice illustration of how the same wind will cause very different waves depending on whether it’s blowing over the sea for many kilometres, or over a puddle for only a couple of centimetres.

The enormity of waves

It’s easy to forget the enormous size and power associated with waves in the ocean. Yes, we see pictures of surfers on Hawaii or of ships in waves occasionally, but usually we don’t really think about how large waves out in the ocean actually are. Which makes it easy to underestimate the force that the ocean holds within, not only on days when natural disasters like storm surges or tsunamis occur, but on a daily basis, just in the swell of distant storms. So sometimes it is quite healthy to look at waves on the beach and compare them to other buildings.

For example here, waves and Hastings Pier:



Those aren’t even particularly large waves, yet we see that their wavelength, peak to peak, is easily a lot more than 20m. This is what coastal structures deal with on a daily basis!