What are Square Waves in the Ocean?

Have you ever been surfing and noticed strange-looking waves coming to shore in a grid-like pattern?

If so, you were probably seeing a square wave (also called a cross sea).

In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at square waves, how they're formed, and why they're important in the ocean environment.

Also read our guide on 29 of the best longboard waves around the world.

What are Square Waves?

Square waves are a type of wave that occurs in the ocean when two different waves collide.

These waves have a very specific shape, with wide top and bottom sections and thin, narrow middle sections.

They get their name because they look like squares seen from above.

Square waves are formed as a result of the interaction between a deep, fast wave and a shallow, slow wave.

When these two types of waves collide, they create a third wave that has the characteristics of both the deep, fast wave and the shallow, slow wave.

The deep, fast wave provides the energy for the square wave while the slow wave determines its shape. 

Also read our guide answering the question, Why do waves come in sets?

Why are Square Waves Important?

Because of their unique shape, square waves are an important feature of the ocean environment, helping to affect water circulation and nutrient flow in the ocean.

Understanding square waves can help us better understand complex ocean processes and interactions. 

For example, square waves play an important role in upwelling, which is a process whereby deep water rises to the surface.

Upwelling brings nutrients from the deep ocean to the surface, where they can be used by plants and animals.

This process is important for supporting marine life and maintaining healthy ecosystems. 

Square waves are an important but often overlooked component of the ocean environment.

What does it mean if you see square waves in the ocean?

You're out surfing, enjoying the waves when you notice something strange.

The waves don't seem to be the same as usual.

They look…square!

What does it mean if you see square waves in the ocean?

When two different waves collide, they can create a square wave.

This is because the two waves interfere with each other, creating a crest and a trough at the same time.

Square waves are an important part of the ocean environment, affecting water circulation and nutrient flow. 

Square waves can also be generated by the wind blowing over a calming sea.

Understanding square waves can help us better understand complex ocean processes and interactions.

Do square waves mean tsunamis are coming?

While surfing the other day, you may have noticed some strange waves in the water.

They were square-shaped and looked kind of like tsunami waves. But don't be alarmed—these are not tsunami waves!

They're much smaller and less dangerous.

Here's what you need to know about square waves so you can surf with peace of mind.

These waves are created when two opposing sets of waves meet in the water.

Sometimes these waves form when there is a strong wind blowing in one direction for a long period.

The wind creates ripples on the surface of the water, which eventually turn into larger waves.

When these waves meet, they create a square shape. 

These waves are not a signal that Tsunami waves are coming.

Tsunamis are huge, destructive waves that can reach heights of over 100 feet and cause significant damage.

But because these waves are much smaller—usually only reaching heights of 10 feet or less—they pose no danger to surfers. 

So next time you see a these waves while surfing, don't be alarmed!

Just enjoy the ride and appreciate the unique natural phenomenon that's taking place right before your eyes. 

Where are square waves found in the world?

Square waves are found in the world's oceans, where they are formed as a result of the interaction between deep, fast waves and shallow, slow waves.

Specifically, these waves are found off the coast of regions with shallow continental shelves, such as the Isle of Ré.

The Isle of Ré, located off the coast of La Rochelle in France, is one of the best places to view square waves.

Despite their relatively small size, square waves have several important characteristics that make them interesting to scientists and oceanographers.

With these characteristics, square waves can be used to help us better understand the ocean and how it behaves.

So, while these waves may not look or behave like tsunamis, they are a fascinating natural phenomenon that can teach us a lot about our oceans and the complex interactions that occur within them.

And for this reason, these waves are an important area of focus for scientists and oceanographers around the world.

Why are there no square waves (or any waves) in lakes?

There are no waves in lakes because the water is too shallow.

Waves only form when the water is deep enough for the energy to move up and down the entire depth of the body of water.

Lakes are generally much shallower than oceans, which is why you don't see waves on them very often.

In order for a wave to form, there needs to be a disturbance at the surface of the water.

This can be caused by wind or something else falling into the water.

The disturbance creates ripples that travel outwards from the point of impact in a circular motion.

As these ripples move away from the center, they start to pile up on top of each other and form a wave. 

Waves crash when they reach shallower water and their energy is no longer able to move freely up and down.

Instead, it has to push the water sideways, which starts to slow the wave down and eventually causes it to break.

That's why you'll never see waves in lakes – the water isn't deep enough for them to form! 

Are square waves dangerous?

While square waves may look dramatic and intimidating, they are generally not considered to be a dangerous phenomenon.

However, some these waves can have significant energy associated with them, so it is important to exercise caution when you are near them or in the ocean in general.

Overall, these waves can be interesting to study and observe, but they are not typically considered to be a hazard.

So if you see these waves in the ocean, don't panic!

They may look big and scary, but they are generally harmless and can even teach us important things about our oceans and how they work.​

Final thoughts on square waves

By understanding how they're formed and what role they play in ocean processes, we can gain a greater understanding of the complexities of the marine realm.

Square waves (cross seas) are an important feature of the ocean environment, helping to affect water circulation and nutrient flow in the ocean.

They are found in the world's oceans, where they are formed as a result of the interaction between deep, fast waves and shallow, slow waves.

Despite their relatively small size, these waves have several important characteristics that make them interesting to scientists and oceanographers around the world.

So if you're interested in learning more about the marine environment and ocean processes, be sure to keep these waves in mind.