Image credit: Malene Thyssen (Creative Commons); Image source; larger image
The side-view photo above shows how the back of a breaking wave spills over the front.
- This happens because as the wave enters more shallow water, its speed slows down, and the back of the wave overruns the front.
- If the reduction in depth happens quickly, the breaking wave creates a cylindrical cavity, as in the wave above.
- For more on ocean waves, see Ocean Waves and Ocean in Motion.
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Water on the Move
Using the instructions on Water on the Move, you can create a model with everyday materials that shows how the water moves as a wave passes by. To visualize the movement of all the water in a wave, see the third animation on this Kettering University page.