An Investigation into What Causes Ocean Waves
As we have seen, ocean waves are powered by the earth’s wind systems.
The ocean waves are formed as the wind blows across the ocean surface creating small capillary waves similar to ripples.
As the wind strength increases, so do the size of the capillary waves, with the surface of the sea becoming rough. These bigger capillary waves present a larger surface area for the wind to act on, enabling the wind to transfer more of its energy to the waves.
This action transforms them from capillary to gravity waves that adopt the classic shape of the progressive wave, which is the ideal shape for wave proliferation.
The size of the waves depend upon the wind speed, duration, and the distance of water that the wind blows across (fetch), therefore the harder the wind blows and the longer the fetch, the more powerful the waves become.
Waves blowing across the North Atlantic are usually pushed along by strong Westerlies over a long fetch. By the time the waves arrive at the northwest Scottish coast they are very powerful, with their energy being efficiently extracted and used to power various large capacity wave-power devices, such as the Pelamis.
Web Reference: Tw-Z - formation of waves