Try to imagine the ocean and you’ll probably think of the sound of crashing waves and the feeling of their rhythmic motion rocking your boat. Waves are commonly caused by wind blowing across the surface – these are simply called surface waves.
Additionally, the gravitational pull exerted by our sun or moon is also capable of creating another type of wave – tidal waves, or tides.
Waves in the ocean are actually signs of energy being transported across wide distances. Said energy can come from wind or gravity.
Waves usually look like squiggly lines. The peaks of the wave are its crests, while its lowest points are called troughs. You can visualize a wave as a continuous series of crests and troughs.
Scientists measure a few important values in waves. As an example, the distance between two crests or two troughs is called a wavelength, while the number of crests that pass by a fixed point in a set amount of time is known as the wave frequency. Meanwhile, the speed at which a wave travels through one wavelength is referred to as the wave period.
Depending on the position of their crests and troughs, two or more waves can either grow into a bigger wave (constructive interference) or cancel each other out (destructive interference).
Using this wave diagram labeled with the parts of an ocean wave is a simple and informative way of learning the basics of waves for application in other physics-related topics.