How Are Waves Formed? The Anatomy of a Perfect Wave

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Waves are a fantastic natural phenomenon. Many people don’t stop and wonder how nature can do such a perfect thig to happen. Today, not even the surfers have to wonder about this because the technology can tell you when there are good waves or not.

So what’s the point of knowing how are waves formed then? Well, the weather forecast isn’t entirely accurate. But most important is that once you understand how waves work and how they create, you will establish another relationship with the waves. With understanding comes knowledge.

 But even if you’re not a surfer, wouldn’t it be interesting to know-how are the waves that you love so much to look at breaking at the shore break are formed? Or why we listen to the waves sound when we fall asleep?

Waves are more present in our life than we think they are, and understanding waves means understanding a bit about yourself. 

Understanding Waves and Swells

It is only natural for us to believe that waves are the phenomenon that makes the water move, but the reality is other. Waves are the expression of energies on water, according to an assignment help expert in geography. Most of the time, the wind is influencing the waves the most. No wind, no surfing waves.

Of course, natural phenomena like earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and landslides can cause quite a show of outstanding waves on the shore. For that reason, waves are just the manifestation of energy on water. 

As earthquakes don’t happen any other day, the waves as we know them are created by the impact of the wind on the body of the water. Therefore, the stronger the wind blows, the bigger the waves are – it’s only natural. That’s why when the storm comes, the waves are so high. 

But there’s another interesting phenomenon that happens. And that is the fact that sometimes, some waves come together, in a swell. For a swell to happen, the wind must blow very strong, without interruptions, and the surface of the water it hits must not face any obstacles. These three factors divide the swells into two categories: groundswell and wind swell.

Any surfer would wish for a groundswell as they’re the result of strong winds that come from a long distance, which means more energy. The wave period is around 13 seconds, and the longer a wave travels, the better its quality it is.

On the other hand, the windswell wave period is shorter – 10 seconds at tops – and the wind that causes them is usually close to the shore, which means that they are in general weaker than groundswells. 

In other words if you want to know when to go surfing or to enjoy a spectacular show from the ocean, the wind is the key to get that. But the wind is even more essential and understanding it is crucial for understanding the anatomy of a perfect wave.

Understanding the Wind

The wind does not only comes in term of strength. The area from which the wind comes, low or high pressure, can influence a wave more than you know. Therefore, if you want to know when sound waves are to be expected, you should know how to read a pressure chart.

Groundswells are associated with low pressure as it means strong winds. The longer the wind blows on a surface, the spectacular the waves will be. But how can you spot the low pressure on the chart? Well, it’s easier than you imagined.

 For understanding waves, all you need from a pressure chart is that when you see circles in circles, onion-like, there’s low pressure.  And if the pressure is persistent, you will enjoy perfect waves for surfing.

There’s one more aspect that you should take into consideration regarding wind. There are onshore and offshore winds. The onshore winds are the ones you should avoid because the wave is unpredictable, unstable, and it often breaks too soon.

Why is that? Well, it’s because the wind is blowing towards the beach, and the stronger it pushes the wave, the more unpredictable it is. 

But fortunately, there are offshore winds that help at forming the perfect surfable wave. Offshore winds are typical for the mornings, and they produce strong waves that won’t break when the weather is unstable.

The Autonomy of a Perfect Wave

Now that we know how waves are formed, we can dive into the why they break. The phenomenon behind it’s pretty obvious once you think about it. The wave travels long before it meets the shore, and the longer it travels, the stronger it gets because it faces no obstacles as the water is very deep.

But the closer they get to the shore, the closer it gets to the ground where the obstacles are. Therefore, it will slow a bit down, but the crest will start to grow taller and taller, depending on the wave’s strength.

You see, the waves don’t seem so prominent in the distance as their energy is manifested in the water. As the water becomes less and less deep, the wave will display more in the outer part.

But there is also a difference in the way the waves break. A wave can break in for different ways: 

  • Beach breaks – perfect to learn how to surf because they break on the sandy seabed.
  • Reef breaks – they break over the coral reef and rocky seabed and are used by professional surfers.
  • Point breaks – is when the wake breaks along with the shoreline because it hit at a certain angle a rocky point.
  • Rivermouth breaks – the waves that break like this are unreliable because they split over a sandbar, which changes in time.

Moreover, waves break both to the left and the right, but the direction is seen from the surfer’s point of view. And there are weaves that break in both directions, which means that the wave can be surfed in the opposite direction by two surfers at a time. 

But the surfing conditions can also be affected by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun. It is essential to know which waves are better for low tides and which for the high ones. 


Waves are simply amazing, and their beauty can make you spend hours on the beach just to watch them and hear them break at the shore. But if you want more than to enjoy the wave’s beauty, understanding them is the key.

Understanding the anatomy of a wave and how the wind influences them is essential information for a surfer, even though the technology can do it for you. With a deep understanding of the anatomy of a perfect wave, you can connect better with this unusual phenomenon.


Scott Mathews an assignment help expert, who offers dissertation help, and who writes top-quality custom essay papers for Assignment Help UK. In his free time, Scott enjoys writing essay help paper, travelling the world as he finds the cultural differences extremely fascinating as he learns more about the human condition.

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