How Are Sea Waves Formed?

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Many factors impact the generation, severity, frequency and strength of ocean waves. One of the most important factors leading to the formation of an ocean wave is the wind. The shapes of the basins of the ocean dictate the ocean's regular movements and also affect waves.

The tides, which are the gradual rise and fall of the ocean's levels over time, are controlled primarily by the gravitational pull on the earth by the moon. However, individual waves on the surface of the ocean, and the strength and severity of those waves, is determined not by the moon but by the wind of the surrounding area. When powerful wind stretches over a large amount of water, it creates movement that eventually forms waves. Greater wind speeds generate larger waves.

According to HowStuffWorks, wave energy is a form of solar energy. The formation of waves is affected by the natural heating and cooling of wind by the sun throughout the day. As this causes the wind to move up and down, it results in motion that pushes the surface of the ocean slightly. The shape of the basins of the oceans, which cause the waves to move generally towards the shore, contribute to this process as well.