Water waves, which can be commonly observed in our daily lives, are of specific interest to physicists. Describing detailed fluid dynamics in water waves is beyond the scope of introductory physics courses. Although we often observe water wave propagating in 2D , in this atom we will limit our discussion to 1D propagation.
Surface waves in water
The uniqueness of water waves is found in the observation that they comprise both transverse and longitudinal wave motion. As a result, the particles composing the wave move in clockwise circular motion, as seen in . Oscillatory motion is highest at the surface and diminishes exponentially with depth. Waves are generated by wind passing over the surface of the sea. As long as the waves propagate slower than the wind speed just above the waves, there is an energy transfer from the wind to the waves. Both air pressure differences between the upwind and the lee side of a wave crest, as well as friction on the water surface by the wind (making the water to go into the shear stress), contribute to the growth of the waves.
In the case of monochromatic linear plane waves in deep water, particles near the surface move in circular paths, creating a combination of longitudinal (back and forth) and transverse (up and down) wave motions. When waves propagate in shallow water (where the depth is less than half the wavelength), the particle trajectories are compressed into ellipses. As the wave amplitude (height) increases, the particle paths no longer form closed orbits; rather, after the passage of each crest, particles are displaced slightly from their previous positions, a phenomenon known as Stokes drift.
We see a wave propagating in the direction of the phase velocity. The wave can be thought to be made up of planes orthogonal to the direction of the phase velocity.
Since water waves transport energy, attempts to generate power from them have been made by utilizing the physical motion of such waves. Although larger waves are more powerful, wave power is also determined by wave speed, wavelength, and water density. Deep water corresponds with a water depth larger than half the wavelength, as is a common case in the sea and ocean. In deep water, longer-period waves propagate faster and transport their energy faster. The deep-water group velocity is half the phase velocity. In shallow water for wavelengths larger than about twenty times the water depth (as often found near the coast), the group velocity is equal to the phase velocity. These methods have proven viable in some cases but do not provide a fully sustainable form of renewable energy to date.
The motion water waves causes particles to follow clockwise circular motion. This is a result of the wave having both transverse and longitudinal properties.