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Bathymetry and Waves micro-lesson

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What is bathymetry? It's the measure of the depth of water in ocean, seas, or lakes. So why is it important? Waves are formed when the ocean floor gets shallower. This is what creates the waves we like to surf. Being able to look at charts of the sea floor like these is important because waves break when the water is a certain depth, 1.3 times deeper than the wave height. So, a 1-meter-tall wave is where the ocean floor is only 1.3 meters deep. Surf forecasts like this use bathymetry to calculate wave heights when they reach surf spots. When we know what the slope of the ocean floor looks like, we can predict the size and shape of the waves. Surfers like plunging waves where the slope of the ocean floor pushes the wave up enough so that it breaks into a nice surf wave. This is a spilling wave which has a very gentle slope and creates a very gentle wave. Here, the ocean floor has a very steep slope which creates a very steep wave, better for advanced surfers. So, the bathymetry of the ocean floor gives us an idea of how steep the wave will be. Engineers use this information to make artificial wave parks like this one here.

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  • Surf waves are formed because the ocean floor gets?

    1) Shallow
    2) Deep
    3) Steep
    4) Flat
  • What is the study of the ocean and sea floor called?

    1) Bathymetry
    2) Marine Biology
    3) Surfology
    4) Hydrology
  • Experts in bathymetry can use this information to create?

    1) Ocean floor maps
    2) Surf reports
    3) Tsunami early warning systems
    4) Weather forecasts
  • What types of waves do engineers design for wave parks?

    1) Plunging waves
    2) Swell waves
    3) Spilling waves
    4) Tsunami waves
  • Waves that have a gentle slope are called?

    1) Spilling waves
    2) Tide waves
    3) Swell waves
    4) Tsunami waves
  • Which type of waves do surfers like?

    1) Plunging waves
    2) Tide waves
    3) Swell waves
    4) Tsunami waves

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Meet your educator

Our micro-courses are developed and delivered by qualified educators from around the world.

Sarah Sanchez Medrano

Sarah Sanchez Medrano

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