All You Ever Wanted to Know About Waves and Then Some

An ocean wave is the undulation (rising and falling movement) of the sea surface and is usually caused by winds. Waves are "born" (generated) in the fetch area (where wind and water interact) and travel across the sea until their "death" (collapse) as breakers on some distant shore. You might call this the life cycle of a wave. The wind and the water were and are its parents.

The highest part of the wave is called the "crest." The lowest part of the wave is called the "trough." Waves can be described by their: wave height, wave-length, and wave period. The wave-height is the vertical distance from the crest to the trough. The wavelength is the horizontal distance between the crest of one wave and the crest of the successive (next) wave.

The wave period is the time it takes for two successive (one after the other) waves to pass a fixed point. Wave period is used to classify waves.