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13 Causes of Ocean Swells – Effects

by Fitriani

An ocean swell is an evenly patterned of water movement along the sea surface. They bring in a certain amount of waves depending on how large the swell is. A big swell can mean a large wave in the ocean. There are many factors that affect the formation of ocean swells. Wind is the number one factor when it comes to making swell. You can read a more detailed explanation below which are the 13 Causes of Ocean Swells.

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1. Wind Speed

The wind speed affects ocean swells. When the speed of the wind is high, it is able to garner more strength to create a larger swells in the ocean.

2. Wind Strength

Other than the speed of the wind, the strength of the wind is also important. It is a huge factor that determines the size of the swell that the ocean can form. Both wind strength and speed can work together to create huge ocean swells.

3. Wind Duration

Wind duration is about the time it takes for the wind to blow across the water surface. The longer the wind blows during the process, then the ocean swells could get strong. But when the wind can only blow the ocean water for a short time, the ocean swells become weak.

4. Fetch

Fetch is concerned with the distance of interruptions during the wind blowing process. Less interruption would create a big ocean swells. However, when there are plenty of disruptions, the swells can be small.

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5. Area Covered by Fetch

When there is a bigger area that a fetch can cover, the the swells in the ocean can be big. On the other hand, a small waves can happen if the area covered by the fetch is small.

6. Water Depth

The depth of the ocean plays a part in creating swells as well as their speed. Shallow oceans reduce the speed of the waves. Waves can increase in size and speed with there is a great depth in the ocean.

7. Storms 

Different types of ocean storms create swells too. They have strong wind power that can control the ocean water. The wind that they carry throughout the ocean into the mainland will make the swells become very big.

8. Energy from Water Surface Friction

Friction from the ocean surface and the wind also causes ocean swells. The friction creates the waves to rise over the ocean water. The water deep inside the ocean will fuel the swell to travel over great distances.

9. Distance from Storm

The further away a swell is from the storm, the more calm it is. The height of the wave is also short. But, near the raging storm, the chances for higher and bigger swells is greater.

10. Energy from Ocean Floor

The ocean floor plays a part in creating ocean swells. These swells are more known as groundswell. The ocean floor pushes the waves to become stronger on the ocean surface. Since ocean floor is so important you may want to know destruction of ocean floor that happens inside the ocean water.

11. Time between Swell

Another thing that affect swells, is the time interval between them. The shorter the time interval is, the waves are small. Larger waves are created when there is a big time interval between the swells.

12. Distance from Coastline

Distance from the coastline can create swells too. The closer a swell is to the coastline, the bigger the waves are once they reach the coast.

13. Ocean Tides

The last thing that can cause ocean swells is the ocean tides. During specific periods, the ocean experiences high and low tides. The higher the tide is, the bigger the swell can be. The opposite happens when the tide is low, the swell formation can be small.

Effects from Ocean Swells

Once you know all the causes of ocean swells, then it is time to know what effects they bring to the ocean environment. You can read below about several effects from ocean swells:

  • Circulate Nutrients: Ocean swells help in circulating the useful nutrients in the ocean. The nutrients from the surface and the deep water are exchanged. Thus, the marine creatures get an equal amount of nutrients to keep themselves alive. (Read: Function of the Phytoplankton in Ocean Ecosystem)
  • Help Sailors at Sea: The swells in the ocean can help the sailors at sea when the weather is bad. They may not be able to know where the wind is truly going but they can follow along the ocean swells to guide them.
  • Carry Marine Creatures to Shores: The ocean swells are also great at carrying marine creatures to the shores. This means that it will be easier for fishermen to catch their fish. More fish means more income for them. (Also read: Types of Ocean Trout)
  • Challenges for Surfers: Ocean swells can get very big and that means more fun for surfers. Some surfers at sea like to ride on big waves. Small ocean swells are welcome too since more variations in waves mean more fun to them.
  • Predicting Ocean Storm: Even though the storm affect the size of the swell, this in return can help researchers predict the strength of an incoming storm into the mainland. When there are signs of huge ocean swells, then that could indicate a powerful storm. This can help save lives for those who live around the coastlines.

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Now we know how very important the ocean swells can be to humans, the marine creatures and the whole ocean ecosystem. Surfers who like to go out riding the waves, depend on ocean swells to let them know what kind of waves the ocean can generate. Moreover, the ocean swells can also carry out important cycle within the ocean ecology for the marine animals and plants.

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