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waves and energy


Have you ever been surfing in Cornwall or maybe even in California? It’s an amazing feeling to get carried along on a large wave. Waves can carry a lot of energy. Little waves just gently lap around your legs sometimes knocking down sand castles, but larger waves could knock you over. Sometimes, in a storm, the large waves can be really fierce. They hit the sea walls with a huge crash and the water flies high into the air.


Just think of the havoc that a huge tidal wave (or tsunami) can cause, like the one in South East Asia in December 2004. In this picture Japanese artist Hokusai has painted a tsunami seen off the coast of Kanagawa in Japan in the 19th Century. It certainly gives a strong impression of the great power that can be stored in these waves. In Japanese tsu means wild and nami means a wave.


The amount of energy carried by a wave depends on the height of the wave (its amplitude). It’s important whether it covers your head or just your toes!


The amount of energy carried by this kind of wave is proportional to the square of its amplitude. So if you double the amplitude, you get four times the amount of energy.





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