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A wave is a disturbance that travels through space and time. Unlike electromagnetic (optics) waves that can propagate through vacuum, mechanical waves (acoustics, ocean surface waves) need a medium to travel. Waves are characterized by their crests (highs) and troughs (lows), and may be classified as traverse waves with vibrations perpendicular to the direction of propagation (violin strings, light) or longitudinal waves with vibrations parallel to the direction of the propagation (horn, radar). Ripples on the surface of water are a combination of both traverse and longitudinal waves.

Waves are mathematically represented by their wavelength (λ), the distance between two consecutive crests (or troughs), and amplitude, the maximum height between crests and troughs. Period, T, is the time for one complete cycle of a wave oscillation.


(1) Toossi Reza, "Energy and the Environment:Sources, technologies, and impacts", Verve Publishers, 2005

Further Reading

Bose, N. and Brooke, J., Wave Energy Conversion, Elsevier, 2003.

Ross, D., Energy from the Waves, Oxford University Press, 1995.

Cruz, J., Ocean Wave Energy: Current Status and Future Perspectives, Springer Series in Green Energy and Technology, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2008

International Journal of Wave Motion, Elsevier Science Publishing Company.

International Journal of Renewable Energy, Elsevier Science Publishing Company.

External Links

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Services Center (http://www.csc.noaa.gov).

European Commission on Tidal Energy (http://europa.eu.int/comm/energy_transport/atlas/htmlu/tidal.html).

OTEC, U.S. DoE, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (http://www.eere.energy.gov/RE/ocean.html).

Wave Energy Council: Survey of Energy Resources (http://www.worldenergy.org/wec-geis/publications/reports/ser/wave/wave.asp).