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Waves on the surface of the sea are caused principally

by wind.
Other factors:
-submarine earthquakes,
-volcanic eruptions
-the tide.

Waves elements
Creasta -linia cea mai nalt a valului n raport cu suprafaa apei linitite
The Crest - the highest part of the wave.. The wave height is the overall vertical
change in height between the crest and the trough and distance between two
successive crests (or troughs) is the length of the wave or wavelength.

Talpa -adncimea (golul) valului, partea cea mai de jos a valului n raport cu
suprafaa apei linitite
The Trough - the lowest part of a wave

L Lungimea de und (sau lungimea valului) este distana orizontal dintre 2
creste msurat paralel cu direcia de deplasare a valului.
The length of the wave (wavelength) is the distance between 2 successive crests
(or troughs)

T Perioada valului este intervalul de timp n secunde n care cele 2 creste
succesive de val trec prin dreptul unui punct fix: T = L/C
The wave Period is the time period when 2 successive pass through a fix point

f Frecvena valurilor este numrul de valuri care trec printr-un punct ntr-o unitate
de timp. Este invers proporional cu perioada valului: f = 1/T
Waves frequency is the number of waves that pass through a point/passage
H nlimea valului pe vertical ntre creasta i depresiunea valului: H = 2a. D
informaii asupra gradului de agitaie al mrii
The wave height is the overall vertical change in height between the crest and the
Waves elements
a amplitudinea valului este distana vertical dintre creasta valului si
suprafaa apei linitite
wave amplitude is the vertical distance between the crest and the calm
sea level
h adncimea apei distanta dintre suprafata apei linistite si fundul apei
water depth the distance between the calm sea level and the bottom

C viteza valului (sau distana parcurs de creasta valului)
wave speed = length/period C=L/T
Generally, the longer the length of the wave, the faster it moves through the water.

Wind waves in deep water (RO)
Mrimea valului se reduce cu adncimea
pn la dispariie
La suprafa particulele de ap au o
traiectorie aproape circular, micarea
se transmite spre straturile inferioare
unde particulele au traiectorii
elipsoidale cu raze din ce n ce mai
mici spre fundul mrii unde micarea
este doar o oscilaie liniar (care
dispare la o adancime egala cu L).
Diametrul cercului (orbitei) scad cu
adncimea; De ex. la h = L/4, diametrul
orbitei se va reduce cu 1/5 din forma
original i deplasarea apei se va face
nainte i napoi i mai puin n form
Viteza particulelor scade cu adncimea: pt.
perioada Pw = 10 sec deplasarea
devine neglijabil la adncimi mai mari
de 100 metri.
Wind waves in deep water (EN)

The passage of each wave = a circular motion.
The motion is not exactly circular but is trochoidal (line form traced by a
point on a rolling wheel).
While the motion in a wave over deep water move is an almost closed
circular path there is a tiny forward motion with the passage of each wave,
particularly in large waves.
Also, in deep water, the motion changes as the depth increases fairly
rapidly. The trochoidal shape at the surface flattens with increasing depth as well
as a decrease in the total motion.
This flattening of motion/decreasing size continues with increasing depth, it
transforms into an elipsiodal motion until all that remains is a small back and
forth movement and even that will cease to be noticed which occurs at one-half
of the waves's total length (1/2 L).
For shallow water waves, the same flattening in the motion occurs but there
is no decrease in the forward/backward motion.

Waves height
How big wind waves get depends on 3 things:
Wind strength. The wind must be moving faster than the wave crests for
energy to be transferred.
Wind duration. Strong wind that does not blow for a long period will not
generate large waves.
Fetch. This is the uninterrupted distance over which the wind blows without
significant change in direction.
H max = 0,029914 V


Obs: The height and length of the wave increase to a maximum generated by the
increasing speed and duration of the wind.

Relation between the wave maximum height and the wind speed

High waves
Storms can generate larger waves in the open Pacific Ocean as compared to the
other oceans due to the long open distance of water.
If the wind continues or strengthens :
-the waves get higher from trough to crest, and length + period become longer.
-the water first forms whitecaps and eventually the waves start to break = a fully
developed sea. (see sea state pictures).
Rogue waves = unusually large waves appearing in a set of smaller waves.
There are many sailor tales of "rogue waves", "freak waves", "three sisters" and
other "killer waves = "extreme storm waves" . These tales were ridiculed and
mariners were accused of using them as an excuse to cover their own mistakes in
wrecks. Characteristics of rogue waves are:
their height is greater than twice the size of surrounding waves,
they often come unexpectedly from directions other than prevailing wind and
waves, and
they are unpredictable.
Rogue waves formation: they form because of swells, while traveling across the
ocean. As these swells pass through one another their crests, troughs, and lengths
happen to coincide and reinforce each other, combining to form unusually large
waves that tower then disappear. If the swells are traveling in the same direction,
these mountainous waves may last for several minutes before subsiding.
Normally sailors do not even see huge waves over 20 m because ships nowadays
will try to avoid such conditions by altering course before the storm hits.
Wind waves classification
1.Wind waves

1.Wind waves (the sea) valurile de vnt:
-sunt neregulate, cu perioade i nlimi diferite, direcii de deplasare diferite.
-ating nlimi mari
-sunt alimentate permanent de vnt, de aceea panta valului este mai abrupt
n direcia propagrii (n fa) i mai lin n dosul valului (valurile de vnt
sunt considerate valuri asimetrice).
-cnd prsesc aria unde au fost generate i unde erau sub influena direct
a vntului, valurile cu perioade i viteze mari depesc valurile mai mici,
astfel c valuri cu dimensiuni similare vor avea tendina de a se deplasa
paralel (valurile de hul).
-irregular, with different periods, heights and directions.
-can reach important heights
-the impulse force is the wind, which explains their asymmetric profile.

Wind waves classification

2.Swell - Hula
Nu se produc neaprat sub influena vntului. Apar dup cderea vntului ca fenomen
de amortizare sau se pot propaga dintr-o perturbaie baric aflat la distan. Ele
cresc ca lungime i perioad, dar scad n nlime.

When the wind stops or changes direction, waves that continue on without relation to
local winds are called swell.

OBS: Valurile de vnt i hula determin starea de agitaie a mrii.
n funcie de nlimea valurilor de vnt s-au stabilit 9 trepte pentru starea mrii (n
corelaie cu scara Beaufort a forei vntului). Pentru gradul 9, amplitudinea valului
depete 14 metri, excepional 16 metri.
n funcie de hul, s-au stabilit 3 trepte (slab, moderat, puternic) dar cu lungimi de
und mai mari dect pentru valurile de vnt.

Obs. Wind waves (the sea) and the swell determine the sea state.
The sea scale contains 9 degrees (the scale is correlated to the wind force scale=the
Beaufort scale. The 9
degree = the phenomenal sea corresponds to waves height
16 metres.
The swell scale contains 3 degrees (low, moderate, heavy); the swell wavelength is
bigger than the wind waves wavelength.
3. Breakers form near the shore, due to decreasing depths. They are dangerous
for small boats.
RO: Brizanii (valurile de resac)
As the wavelength decreases, the height generally becomes greater. The lower
part of a wave, being nearest the bottom, is slowed more than the top. at the
point where the depth of the water is one-half of the wave's length (h=L/2), it
begins to "feel" the bottom.
The wavepeaks reach a height where they become unstable and, moving faster
than the water below, they break forward.
Such a wave is called a breaker, and a series of breakers is surf.
Waves classification
Sea state
The Douglas Sea Scale was created by H. P. Douglas in 1917 while he was the
head of the British Meteorological Navy Service.
Its purpose is to estimate the roughness of the sea for navigation.
The Scale has 2 codes:
- one code is for estimating the state of the sea;
- the other code is for describing the swell of the sea.

Sea state
WMO (Douglas)
Sea State Code

Wave Height (meters)




Calm (glassy)


0 to 0.1

Calm (rippled)


0.1 to 0.5

Smooth (wavelets)


0.5 to 1.25



1.25 to 2.5



2.5 to 4



4 to 6

Very rough


6 to 9



9 to 14

Very high


Over 14


Character of the sea swell
0. None
Low 1. Short or average
2. Long
Moderate 3. Short
4. Average
5. Long
Heavy 6. Short
7. Average
8. Long
9. Confused
Direction from which swell is coming should be recorded.
Confused swell should be recorded as "confused northeast," if coming from the
direction of northeast.
The Beaufort Wind Scale

Wind Speed


Sea Condition




Sea like a mirror


1 - 3

Light air

Ripples but without foam crests


4 - 6


Small wavelets. Crests do not break


7 - 10


Large wavelets. Perhaps scattered white horses


11 - 16


Small waves. Fairly frequent white horses


17 - 21


Moderate waves. Many white horses


22 - 27


Large waves begin to form; white foam crests.
Probably spray


28 - 33

Near gale

Sea heaps up and white foam blown in streaks
along the direction of the wind


34 - 40


Moderately high waves. Crests begin to break into
spindrift. The foam is blown in well marked streaks along
the direction of the wind


41 - 47

Severe gale

High waves. Dense foam along the direction of the wind.
Crests of waves begin to roll over. Spray may affect


48 - 55


Very high waves with long overhanging crests. The surface
of the sea takes a white appearance. The tumbling of the
sea becomes heavy and shock-like. Visibility affected


56 - 63

Violent storm

Exceptionally high waves. The sea is completely covered
with long white patches of foam lying in the direction of the
wind. Visibility affected




The air is filled with foam and spray. Sea completely white
with driving spray. Visibility very seriously affected

Other types of waves
-A seiche is a stationary wave that oscillates (changes aspect) without
-Also called a "standing wave
-Seiches are caused by strong winds and/or changes in barometric pressure.
-Found in enclosed / semi-enclosed areas.
-Seiche period is determined by the length and depth of the water.
-Currents associated with seiches are at maximum speed near the axis (node)
and minimum speed (or not at all) at either end (loops).
Other types of waves
Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore.
-They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of
breaking waves.
-Rip currents most typically form at low spots or breaks in sandbars, and also near
structures such as groins, jetties and piers.
-Rip currents can be very narrow or extend in widths to hundreds of yards.
-The seaward pull of rip currents varies: sometimes the rip current ends just beyond
the line of breaking waves, but sometimes rip currents continue to push hundreds of yards
-Rip currents form as incoming waves create an underwater sandbar close to shore
and the waves push more and more water in between the sandbar and the shore until a
section of this sandbar collapses and the water rushes back toward the sea through a
narrow gap. Once the flowing water passes through the narrow gap it begins to spread out.
It is here where the velocity and strength of the rip current circulation begins to weaken
Rip currents can be killers as they are the leading surf hazard for all beachgoers.
They are particularly dangerous for weak or non-swimmers.
A rip current is a horizontal motion not a vertical motion. Rip currents do not pull
people under the water; they pull people away from shore. Signs that a rip current is
present are very subtle and difficult for the average beachgoer to identify. Look for
differences in the water color, water motion, incoming wave shape or breaking point
compared to adjacent conditions.

Waves impact
In RO:
Efectele valurilor:

-asupra navelor: efectele se datoreaz energiei ridicate a valurilor i se manifest prin
sleming, respectiv cderea navei n golul dintre valuri sau ridicarea elicei deasupra
apei i mersul ei n gol etc. Pentru navele cu lungime mic, tangajul este puternic.
Zona de pericol apare dac lungimea valului este egal cu lungimea navei astfel nct
nava rmne pe 2 creste.

-asupra zonei de rm: prin aciunea de eroziune (abraziune) modic configuraia
rmului. n timpul furtunilor, cnd valurile deferleaz aducnd n zona de rm
cantiti mari de ap, eroziunea este mult mai rapid. Jetul de resac arunc() cu
violen pietri i bolovni asupra rmului, provocnd erodarea lui. Prin frecarea
continu a acestora se produc particule mai fine; cele care rmn n apropierea
rmului formeaz plaje i bare. Datorit contracurenilor de splare dup deferlare,
se produce deriva plajei. Plaja se poate lrgi (progradare) sau micora (retrogradare).
Curentul litoral i fenomenul de abraziune produc deriva de coast i eroziunea
gradat a plajei.

Waves observations and measurements
1. Analitical
2. Measurements

Analitical: based on formula, calculation tables.
Hw (waves height) determination is based on wind speed, wind duration (hours) water
depth, and the fetch se determina functie de viteza vantului, durata vantului in ore,
adnacimea marii si fetch (the uninterrupted distance over which the wind blows
without significant change in direction).

Tables contain values determined by using empirical formula (formula take into account
the relations between the wind and the waves elements).



Waves elements


Time (wind
duration - hours)









1,3 2,5







4,1 6,0










In RO:
a) Instrumente
-valograf (masuratorile se bazeaza pe diferenta de presiune hidrostatica;
traductorul de presiune hidrostatica este atasat unei geamanduri care
oscileaza pe val, atasata este o contragreutate; se transmite electric prin
cablu printr-un potentiometru la nava.
-perspectometru se foloseste la coasta, este un aparat optic care vizeaza direct o
geamandura ce oscileaza liber pe val. In ocularul lunetei este o retea
reticulara care permite determinarea amplitudinii, lungimii si directiei de
propagare a valurilor.
b) Observatii vizuale val semnificativ =expresia matematica a Hw observata
de o persoana cu experienta (trained observer".)
VAL SEMINIFICATIV = media a 1/3 dintre cele mai inalte valuri observate
Este folosita frecvent ca Hw la ocean.

Visual observations:
the significant wave = the average height of the highest 1/3 of the waves
(represented on maps received onboard ship)

Waves maps received on board ship:

For ex. The maps issued by the The Fleet Numerical Meteorology and
Oceanography Center. The Center produces synoptic analyses and
predictions of ocean wave heights using a spectral numerical model.
The wave information consists of heights and directions for different
periods and wavelengths.
Verification of projected data has proven the model to be very good.
Information from the model is provided to the U.S. Navy on a routine basis
and is a vital input to the Optimum Track Ship Routing program.

Waves maps