Oceanography is a very important discipline for understanding the oceans, which are essential for all life on Earth and cover the majority of the Earth’s surface.
“Oceanography is extremely multidisciplinary, covering the physics, chemistry, geology and biology of the world’s oceans. No understanding of Earth’s climate or the chemical cycles essential to life is complete without the insights of oceanography.”
I started surfing when I was 12 years old and I have been obsessed with ocean waves ever since. Ever since I first started school I wanted to learn the “birth, life, and death of an oceanic swell.” I started with Meteorology so I could understand the birth of the swell; that is, the storms that create the swells. I am now studying Physical Oceanography to understand swell propagation as well as the surf zone dynamics.
Please help me stay at the University of Hawaii. This past semester I wasn’t able to continue with school due to financial concerns. I have used all my student loans allowed, l and currently looking for grants. You can use paypal (my PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org) Anything will help, even $1.00!
When I started school I was 30 years old, and I was completely illiterate! It took many years just to get to college status, but I am proud of all my accomplishments as when I first started school 5/1=5 really confused me, and now I understand partial differential equation (PDEs) and in fact my undergraduate degree of Atmospheric Sciences (Meteorology) pretty much including PDEs all thoroughout the degree, below is a common equation in Meteorology:
If you have ever seen warm or cold fronts on a weather map this is the equation for it. Really cool, right?
As, I said above I have been obsessed with ocean waves ever since I started surfing. My first step was to discover how the waves were formed and now I am studying what happens when they leave their original area. I will finally study what happens when the ocean waves enter the beach zone and become surf, which will no doubt be the most difficult part of my study.
I am very dedicated to going to graduate school for Physical Oceanography at SOEST at the University of Hawaii, Money is the only thing standing in my way. I am studying by myself at home which is challenging since I just finished my undergraduate degree.
Here are my thoughts on my subset of Physical Oceanography:
Physical oceanographers apply theory and observation to study the circulation of oceans. As heat, salt, and other dissolved chemicals move through the oceans and into lakes and rivers, these scientists are able to track this movement. They also study tides and waves to see how these things affect the atmosphere and nearby ecosystems. Once the data is collected, physical oceanographers may then build computer simulations that mimic the movement of the ocean.
Job responsibilities of a physical oceanographer include:
- attempting to lessen the impact on ocean life of pollution carried by currents
- testing water and soil samples for pH balances
- studying the sea ice and polar ice sheets to understand the distribution of these features and attempt to preserve them
- ensuring a balance between the human use of ocean resources and conservation
Surfers have always had different ways of measuring waves. What is wave height? How should a wave be measured?
Surfing is a sport of achievement. The first wave ride, the first surf line, the first barrel, the biggest wave…all stories to tell and bars to be raised. One of the most famous surfing quotes speaks volumes about surfers and their passion. “You should’ve been here yesterday,” it goes.
Buzzy Trent, a big wave surfer, once said that “…waves are not measured in feet and inches, but in increments of fear”. A statement like this raises questions. Chiefly, how can we standardize the measurement of waves in order to make accurate comparisons?
There are two main approaches to measuring wave height.
The Bascom Method and the Hawaiian Scale
The Bascom Method, developed by Willard Newell Bascom, is widely regarded as simple, fair, and rational; yet an overestimation most of the time.
One stands on the beach with eyes aligned with wave crest and the horizon. He or she then measures the wave from that point to the average sea level. Californians loved it.
The Hawaiians saw things differently. They were known for measuring their waves from the back, effectively cutting the determined height of the waves they had ridden in half. The method used by the Californians, they thought, was full of exaggerated bravado.
When big wave surfing got the attention of the media, the Hawaiian Wave Scale conquered fans. It was really cool to underestimate the size of a wave.
The Hawaiian Wave Scale has a few disadvantages.
It is difficult when measuring small waves; can’t be confirmed from the beach; is based on emotional variables like courage; it does not measure the entire face in which surfers ride, and it doesn’t apply to waves that are big and heavy, but lack a large backside, like Teahupoo.
The Surfable Wave Face Method
There is a third way. This fair and balanced approach is based on the area that is actually ridden by a surfer.
Keeping in mind that the bottom-turn is the lowest point on the wave face, the Surfable Wave Face hypothesis would consider 2/3 of the Bascom Method as the area where surfers draw their lines and tricks, from the pocket almost to sea level.
In conclusion: a 6.5 feet wave measured with the Bascom Method would correspond to a 3.2-foot wave on the Hawaiian Scale, and 4.2 feet using the Surfable Wave Face measurement system.
So it seems that the logical application of the Surfable Wave Face method brings the best of the “underestimated” and “overestimated” models into a balanced, globally accepted system of wave measurement for competitive surfing.
I have a local project, which is located on Github. I want to push changes to the remote repo, it’s not working. Does anybody know how to push the new data.py file to GitHub?
cd sea_spray git init git add . git commit -m "first commit" git branch -M main git remote add origin https://github.com/johnbarrett/sea_spray.git git push -u origin main
When I do this, all I get is: “fatal: remote origin already exists.” This happens with the command:
git remote add origin https://github.com/johnbarrett/sea_spray.git
Thanks so much for any help
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Adobe Community Professional (ACP)
I just became a ACP for the Flash Platform here in Honolulu through
the Adobe Community Professionals program. I am responsible for
promoting the flash platform, which I do through writing blogs,
speaking at User group meetings, and answering questions on Adobe
Forms. I have given many presentations on flash for the Hawaii Flash
User Group, and Flash Camp Hawaii. As the manager when no speaker can
be found to speak, I feel it is my responsibility to give the
presentation myself. This groups meets monthly at the University of
I just started honoluluhosting.net to offer great ColdFuson Hosting
for the people of Hawaii and the rest of the world. The difference
between us and other ColdFusion Hosting companies is that we will
review your code and fix any problems.
Manager Hawaii Flash User Group
I created the Hawaii Flash User Group here in Honolulu through the
Adobe Groups program. I served as the manager of the group, and I am
responsible for booking speakers,maintaining the location for the
meetings. I have given many presentations on flash personally to the
group. This groups meets monthly at the University of Hawaii, but I
also maintain on-line meetings through Adobe Connect for those you
can not make it to the physical location. The group’s co-manager is
Flash & ColdFusion Development
University of Hawaii, Nutrition Department
I was hired by the Nutrition Department at the University of Hawaii
working with Dr. Titchenal & Dr. Jonnie Dobbs. I worked on a number
of ColdFusion websites for the department, each of these websites I
also created a custom content management system (CMS) based in
ColdFusion for these sites. There were 2 main sites created
NutritionATC, and GotNutrients. Both sites used ColdFusion to create
a custom email alerts system with a CMS. I also have created flash
(AS 2/AS 3) projects explaining Nutrition for the local Intranet at
the Nutrition Department. These projects were mostly e-learning
solutions that integrated data from a database using flash remoting
with ColdFusion to display the results in flash both in textual &
This was my own company, where I created a surf forecasting website
in Flash, and I also created and maintained a surf climate database
surf forecasting, height, direction, as well as surf- climatology) for
Oahu. I created the website & set up the sever completely by scratch,
which was based in ColdFusion, managed and maintained the ColdFusion
Server & MySQL database, and set up up the DNS. Basically everything
that a hosting prover would do for you! I used ColdFusion to generated
the XML to be used for flash. The project also used Flash to display &
graph the results using XML. This project was a combination of html &
flash but later turned into a full flash website. Towards the ending
of the project I started to use flash remoting (AS 2) with ColdFusion
instead of XML for working with the data. My objective was to sell
detailed surf forecasts to interested people planning a trip here to
Oahu. I creating a surf calculator (to forecast the surf conditions
for any beach on Oahu) that at the time was the most accurate(in my
opinion). I also planned to sell the prior surf forecasts results
(surf climates) to interested parties. the website went bust, to to a
lack of support from advertisers, and sales.
Hawaii State Climate Office
I worked for the state Climatologist for creating a rainfall database
which started in Access, but was later converted to MySQL in 2003 for
the state of Hawaii. The progect turned the older paper records into
digital format for the Hawaii Rainfall Project. My portion of this
project was to create the database, and did analyst on the data to
create a maxim and minimum rainfall pattern for the state of Hawaii.
This data was used to update the rainfall atlas for Hawaii. I also
provided climate information, and prepared climate data that people
requested through the Hawaii State Climate Office. Working here
allowed myself to learn how to perform scientific research, as well as
learn about the rainfall patterns in the state of Hawaii.
Most of the buoys in the United States are run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Data Buoy Center. Individual buoys can be accessed on the internet via NOAA’s website. Here’s how to read them:
Wind, and more precisely, where it’s coming from and how fast, is the second most important surf-affecting variable other than wave size. It’s also constantly changing and difficult to predict with much precision. Because onshore wind (blows from the ocean towards land) is detrimental to surf conditions, and conversely, offshore wind (blows from land out to sea) is optimum, it’s a good idea to understand how to get up-to-date wind information from your local buoy.
The two variables that influence wind conditions are wind direction and wind speed, and both are important. Wind direction tells you the direction the wind is blowing from. Wind speed is the speed the wind is blowing, measured in knots. For example, if the buoy’s wind reading says the direction is NNW at 15 kts with 25 kts gusts, that means the wind is blowing out of the north/northwest, at 15 knots, with occasional gusts of up to 25 knots. For surfing, that’s a lot of wind, but if you have access to a break that faces south, the wind will funnel straight offshore.
This one takes the top honor in terms of importance to the surfer. If there are no waves, it really doesn’t matter what the wind direction is or how high the tide is – you’re not surfing anyway. And while all the surf-forecasting websites do a pretty decent job of giving you accurate swell information, any individual swell event goes through a lifespan that ranges from building, to peaking, to dying out, and eventually fading completely. Check in with your local buoy to see exactly what the swell is doing at that exact hour.
There are two variables that contribute to the size of a wave when it breaks: wave height and wave period. What? There’s more to waves than their height? Oh, you have so much to learn.
The period describes time elapsed between individual waves within a given wave set. For example, a period of 14 seconds means that when a set of waves reaches the beach, about 14 seconds will elapse in between each wave that breaks. Interestingly, a wave’s period is extremely significant because it directly affects both size and power. Period translates into the distance between two waves as well as the depth, meaning the longer, or deeper, a wave’s period, the bigger and more powerful it will be once it reaches its breaking point. Therefore, a wave with a long period will actually have more deep-water energy than a wave with a short period, giving it more height and power when it breaks.
A buoy’s wave height reading is exactly what it sounds like: the height, given in feet, from the peak of each wave to its trough. Keep in mind that buoys will automatically average out both the wave height and wave period.
So how do you determine actual wave height from both size and period? To know how a certain swell will affect your local surf conditions, you need to understand how particular breaks respond to both short period swell (also called wind swell) and long period swell. You also need to quantify the height and period into a single overall estimation of wave height. While experience is the only way to get really good at determining this somewhat elusive value, you’ll quickly learn that a swell reading six feet at 18 seconds is a lot bigger than one registering 10 feet at eight seconds.
In addition to wind and wave height, buoys also compute both air and water temperature.
Other Factors: Tide & Swell Direction
Tide and swell direction are secondary factors when determining surf quality, although both are extremely important. Blissful ignorance to tide and directions will only be blissful for so long.
Swell direction is an obvious factor when deciding when and where to surf. If a moderate-sized swell is rolling in from the south, you shouldn’t head to a beach that faces north unless you want to do more fishing than surfing. On larger swells, it’s sometimes wise to check spots that aren’t openly facing the brunt of the swell in order to access friendlier waves.
Ever wonder why surf shops give out those little tide books at the front counter? Every surfer should be aware of the day’s tidal scenario when deciding when and where to surf. Most surf spots have a particular tide that works best with that spot, and outgoing and incoming tides can affect rip currents and wave consistency. While some breaks may function on any tide, many more will altogether shut down if the tide is too low or too high. Getting to know your local surf spots and what tides they prefer is an important step towards getting quality surf as often as possible.
Surfing is a cool way to spend a hot day—but there’s much more to riding waves than just balancing on a surfboard. Mastering surfing is all about mastering science: you need to know how waves travel across the ocean carrying energy as they go, and how you can capture some of this energy to move yourself along. Whether you’re surfing or bodyboarding, riding a longboard, or whizzing on a skimboard, you’re using cool science in a very cool way. Let’s take a closer look!
What are waves?
Waves are always the first thing you notice about the ocean. Except on very calm days, there are always waves skimming across the surface of the sea. What exactly are they doing there? We usually find waves in a place where energy has appeared. A basic law of physics called the conversation of energy says that energy can’t be created or destroyed; it can only ever be converted into other forms. When energy suddenly appears, concentrated in one place, something has to happen to it. Usually, energy doesn’t stay put: it tends to travel out in all directions to other places that don’t have as much.
The great thing about ocean waves is that you can see them coming. If you’re surfing, even fast-moving waves are slow enough to catch and carry you along. The properties of an ocean wave are also very easy to see. You can estimate its amplitude (height) just by looking out to the horizon. Its wavelength (the distance from one wave crest to the next) and frequency (the number of waves that travel past in a certain amount of time) are also very easy to see.
Where do ocean waves come from? If you live in the northern hemisphere, far from the equator, you’ve probably noticed that there are more waves around in the fall (autumn) or spring than in the summer. The wind is important because it’s what puts energy into the ocean: it makes ocean waves in more or less exactly the same way as you make sound waves when you bang the skin of a drum.
What’s the difference between wind swell and groundswell?
The waves that arrive at your beach are not necessarily created anywhere nearby. Back in the 1950s, an ocean scientist named Walter Munk conducted an amazing series of experiments with ocean waves. He managed to prove that some waves travel over 9000 miles across the open ocean before they reach their eventual destination. Generally, the more widely spaced and the cleaner waves are when they roll up on the shore, the further they have traveled.
Waves like this are known as swell (or groundswell) and they make the best waves for surfing. Groundswell is the reason you can have quite large waves washing up on your beach even when there’s little or no wind blowing. Waves generated nearby (by winds blowing in the local area) are known as wind swell. They are usually choppier, smaller, messier, harder to surf, and less interesting to surfers than groundswell. Often the waves in a particular place are a mixture of groundswell and wind swell—a random collection of waves that have traveled from far away mixed with waves that have come a much shorter distance.
Why is groundswell cleaner than windswell? When the wind blows on the sea, it produces all kinds of waves of different wavelengths, frequencies, and speeds. As the waves travel, the faster waves gradually separate out from the slower waves. The further the waves go, the more chance they have to sort themselves into an orderly pattern. Groundswell has more time to get itself into shape than windswell. Eventually, the waves form into distinct little groups called sets: when they finally arrive at their destination, a little group of good waves will arrive at once. Then there will be a pause. Then the next group of waves will arrive a bit later.
When and why do waves break?
Swell is only one of the ingredients for great surfing. Surfers don’t like any old waves: they want waves that peel (break gradually to the left or right along the wave crest) rather than close out (where the crest folds over and smashes to pieces all in one go). When a wave is peeling, you can ride back and forth across the crest as it slowly breaks; with a wave that’s closing out, there’s nowhere much to go. In surfing slang, waves that close to the right are called, not surprisingly, “righthanders”, while left-breaking waves are “lefthanders”. The angle at which the wave peels makes it more or less interesting to surf. The steeper the angle, the harder it is to surf and the more interesting moves you can pull.
What makes a wave break… and peel rather than closing out? When water flows, in the ocean, its upper layers are traveling faster than its lower layers. Think about waves arriving at a beach. As they travel from the open ocean to the shore, they move up a gradual sandy incline and start to slow down. The bottom of a wave slows more quickly than the top. So instead of a wave moving forwards as one, we have a whole series of water layers sliding past one another, with the top layers moving fastest and the bottom moving slowest. A wave breaks when the top part of the wave goes so far over the bottom part that the wave can no longer support itself—so it completely collapses. A wave peels when this process happens gradually along the length of the wave rather than all at once. If you like, a peeling wave is breaking in two dimensions: along the crest of the wave as the wave advances up the beach or reef.
Waves can break in many different ways, and that largely depends on the profile of the seabed underneath them (known as the bathymetry). All waves will break eventually, but major features like rock or coral reefs, ledges, and sandbars will make one side break before another, causing waves to peel. Nearby groins (sea fences), piers, and jetties can also make waves peel. Different shapes of reef produce different breaking effects.
Swell and bathymetry are not the only things that affect the quality of your surfing. How the wind is blowing on your beach will make a big difference too. Waves are obviously always traveling from the open ocean towards the beach, like scaled-up versions of ripples on a pond, but the wind can be blowing in any direction. If the wind is blowing directly out to sea, it is known as an offshore wind. As it blows, it will naturally tend to prop up the waves, stopping them from breaking so quickly, cleaning out some of the smaller choppier waves, and making the waves finally break with greater intensity in shallower water. A combination of strong ground swell and a light offshore wind is always best for surfing, especially if the wind has been blowing for a few days (both to create groundswell and to give it time to travel to your beach). If the wind blows in the opposite direction, so it is onshore, it will make the waves collapse much too soon—spoiling your fun! A strong wind that is blowing directly onshore (at right angles to the beach) can produce a very random, choppy sea that is impossible to surf, but fun to mess about in with a bodyboard.
Why do you have to paddle?
Science (and physics in particular) can explain most of the strange things you’ll notice when you’re riding along on your surfboard. Questions like why you have to paddle…
Whether you’re on a surfboard or a bodyboard, if a great wave is heading towards you, you have to paddle like mad to be able to catch it. In other words, you have to be traveling with some speed and momentum as the wave hits you to stand any chance of riding along with it. Why is that? To travel with a wave, you have to accelerate to the speed it’s traveling. In other words, you have to gain a certain amount of kinetic energy very quickly. If you’ve already got some kinetic energy to start with—if you’re already moving when the wave catches up with you—it’s much easier for the wave to accelerate you a little bit more. Or in simple terms, the faster you paddle, the more likely you are to catch your wave.
What about tides?
Tides have nothing to do with waves. Tides are caused by the Moon and the Sun working together to “pull” the sea back and forth with their gravity, rather like a giant blanket moving up and down a bed. Tides change the depth of the water on your beach. When the tide is “in”, the waves come in further and break later; when the tide is “out”, the waves break further out. Depending on the profile of the seabed, a rising tide (one coming in) or a falling tide (one going out) will make the waves tend to break somewhat better or somewhat worse than usual, depending on the local seabed. There is no absolute rule that works everywhere: some places work well as high tide approaches; some work best when the tide is going out.
When the Moon and Sun line up, twice a month, they make higher tides than usual called spring tides, which give deeper water during high tides (when the tide is in) and shallower water at low tide (when the tide is out). In between the spring tides are neap tides, when the sea moves back and forth less than usual, high tides are less deep, and low tides are less shallow. Again, depending on the seabed, high and low tides, and spring and neap tides, will make the surfing better or worse—but it varies wildly from place to place. If you’re in a place that needs deep water to make the waves break properly, the highest spring tides are going to be better than the lowest neap tides. But elsewhere, the opposite may be true.
Can science make you a better surfer?
Of course! It won’t make you stand on the board any better. But if you understand what waves are, how they are made, and where they come from, you’ll have a much better idea of when the surf’s going to be up. And if you can predict when the waves are ready to ride, you’re halfway there already. If surfing is a quest for the perfect wave, science can at least point you in the right direction.