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10.9: Beaufort Wind Force Scale and Wave Interference Patterns

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    • Contributed by Miracosta Oceanography 101
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    Beaufort Wind Force Scale (Wind Velocity, Wave Height, and Sea Conditions)

    The Beaufort wind force scale relates wind speed (velocity) to observed conditions at sea (including wave height) or impact of features on land. It is a numbered scale from 0 to 12 to describe sea conditions and wave size. The Beaufort Scale was developed by Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort 1774-1857, an officer in Britain's Royal Navy). Zero 0 on the Beaufort scale represents the calmest of seas (the water is so smooth that it looks like glass). A 12 on the Beaufort scale represents hurricane force waves (Figure 10.21).

    Beaufort scale
    Figure 10.21. Beaufort Wind Force Scale for sea conditions (and on land).

    Wave Interference Patterns

    Wave interference occurs where waves from different sources collide (Figures 10-22 and 10-23).

    • Constructive wave interference occurs where waves come together in phase or crest meets another crest (or trough meets another trough).
    • Destructive wave interference: Waves come together out of phase or crest meets a trough.
    Wave interference
    Figure 10.22. Examples of constructive and destructive wave interference patterns.
    Ripples merge into wavelets in choppy water
    Figure 10.23. Interference patterns created by winds gusts blowing from different directions.