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Relation Between Height and Length of the Waves Finally Produced at Sea by Winds of Any Given Speed1

Nature volume 88, page 497 (08 February 1912) | Download Citation



OBSERVATIONS made by the author, and those cf Scoresby, Paris, Abercromby, and others, show that when the waves in a storm are fully developed they travel with the same speed as the wind which produces them. If there be any excess velocity of wind, such as might be supposed necessary to prevent the waves from flattening out through the effect of friction, it is a quantity so small that it falls within the errors of observation. Similarly for the breakers which reach our coasts after storms in the Atlantic, the author has recorded periods which show a deep-water velocity equal to the maximum recorded velocity of the wind during the same spell of weather, the latter being in one case Beaufort's force 11, or 64 statute miles per hour, and in another case Beaufort's 12, or 77 statute miles per hour. He has never recorded breakers with a speed equal, or nearly equal, to the speed which the wind momentarily attains in gusts, the speed of the waves not exceeding the average speed of the wind. The observations indicate that if there be any waves which travel faster than the wind, they do not attain sufficient amplitude to form breakers.

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