3 Differences Between Ocean Waves And Currents

Everyone loves watching the ocean waves and currents. Waves and currents are both natural phenomena that occur in water bodies. They may seemingly appear to be the same thing, but the two have some fundamental differences that make them unique from one another. 

Waves and currents are different by nature. The current determines the direction of the flow of the water body, whereas waves are defined as the movement of energy across the water. Different sources also generate the two phenomena; the wind influences waves, while currents are influenced by many factors, including winds, temperature, and the region’s topography.

Both waves and currents differ in intensity, frequency, and causes. This makes them distinct from one another.

To learn more about these differences in detail, keep reading ahead.

What Are Ocean Waves?

The differences would be much more apparent with a greater understanding of the two concepts.

Ocean waves are the movement produced on the water’s surface due to the energy transferred to the ocean by the winds. 

What Are Currents?

Currents are the movement of large masses of water in a particular direction over a long period. Currents are often measured in meters per second.

To learn more about ocean currents, watch this:

Several factors influence the production of waves, and waves are just one of those factors. Keep reading to find out more.

What Are The Main Differences Between The Two?

Let us discuss what factors contribute to the varying length, intensity, and nature of the two phenomena.

The Generation Of The Two Is Different

As mentioned above, water waves are generated when the wind hits the surface of the water and causes a ripple effect. The ripple is caused by the transmission of energy from the wind to the water. 

On the other hand, currents are generated due to the density differences between the oceanic surface caused by the variation of temperature and salinity levels. Heavy winds and certain natural disasters such as earthquakes can also generate currents. 

The Frequency Of The Two Events Is Varying 

The occurrence of water waves is a regular phenomenon. Oceans carry waves daily, and these waves are often continuous. 

While on the other hand, changes in currents occur every few years. So, for example, the El Nino current occurs after three to seven years have passed.

Direction Of Motion

Waves move from side to side. They are either longitudinal or transverse.

The direction of motion for currents is different. Currents move clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. This is called the Coriolis Effect.

Are There Any Similarities?

The only significant similarities between the two are that they are both influenced, to varying degrees, by the action of the wind. The other considerable resemblance is that they occur in water bodies. Other than this, the two are distinct phenomena. 

The Conclusion

It is easy to see movement in water bodies and mix them up. But because of the differences in the nature, generation, frequency, and intensity of waves and currents, they fall under different categories. 

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