Ocean surface waves are surface waves that occur at the surface of an ocean.
They usually result from distant winds or geologic effects and may travel thousands of miles before striking land.
They range in size from small ripples to huge tsunamis.
There is surprisingly little actual forward motion of individual water particles in a wave, despite the large amount of forward energy it may carry.
The great majority of waves one sees on an ocean beach result from distant winds.
Three factors influence the formation of "wind waves": Windspeed; length of time the wind has blown over a given area; and distance of open water that the wind has blown over (called fetch).
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