Wave tank

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Model testing with periodic Stokes waves in the Wave-Tow Tank of the Jere A. Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory, University of New Hampshire. JACOEL-Wave Tow Tank-Image16.png
Model testing with periodic Stokes waves in the Wave–Tow Tank of the Jere A. Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory, University of New Hampshire.

A wave tank is a laboratory setup for observing the behavior of surface waves. The typical wave tank is a box filled with liquid, usually water, leaving open or air-filled space on top. At one end of the tank an actuator generates waves; the other end usually has a wave-absorbing surface. A similar device is the ripple tank, which is flat and shallow and used for observing patterns of surface waves from above.

Laboratory facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific or technological research, experiments, and measurement may be performed.

A laboratory is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific or technological research, experiments, and measurement may be performed.

Surface wave mechanical wave that propagates along the interface between differing media

In physics, a surface wave is a 90 degree wave that propagates along the interface between differing media. A common example is gravity waves along the surface of liquids, such as ocean waves. Gravity waves can also occur within liquids, at the interface between two fluids with different densities. Elastic surface waves can travel along the surface of solids, such as Rayleigh or Love waves. Electromagnetic waves can also propagate as "surface waves" in that they can be guided along a refractive index gradient or along an interface between two media having different dielectric constants. In radio transmission, a ground wave is a guided wave that propagates close to the surface of the Earth.

Liquid liquid object

A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its container but retains a (nearly) constant volume independent of pressure. As such, it is one of the four fundamental states of matter, and is the only state with a definite volume but no fixed shape. A liquid is made up of tiny vibrating particles of matter, such as atoms, held together by intermolecular bonds. Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Most liquids resist compression, although others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly constant density. A distinctive property of the liquid state is surface tension, leading to wetting phenomena. Water is, by far, the most common liquid on Earth.


Wave basin

A wave basin at the University of Maine. Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Lab at the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center.jpg
A wave basin at the University of Maine.

A wave basin is a wave tank which has a width and length of comparable magnitude, often used for testing ships, offshore structures and three-dimensional models of harbors (and their breakwaters).

Wave flume

A solitary wave in a laboratory wave flume Soliton hydro.jpg
A solitary wave in a laboratory wave flume
A large wave flume of Forschungszentrum Kuste in Marienwerder/Hannover, Germany, with a length of 307 m and a depth of 7 m. Wellenkanal Marienwerder Monsterwelle.jpg
A large wave flume of Forschungszentrum Küste in Marienwerder/Hannover, Germany, with a length of 307 m and a depth of 7 m.

A wave flume (or wave channel) is a special sort of wave tank: the width of the flume is much less than its length. The generated waves are therefore – more or less – two-dimensional in a vertical plane (2DV), meaning that the orbital flow velocity component in the direction perpendicular to the flume side wall is much smaller than the other two components of the three-dimensional velocity vector. This makes a wave flume a well-suited facility to study near-2DV structures, like cross-sections of a breakwater. Also (3D) constructions providing little blockage to the flow may be tested, e.g. measuring wave forces on vertical cylinders with a diameter much less than the flume width.

In continuum mechanics the macroscopic velocity, also flow velocity in fluid dynamics or drift velocity in electromagnetism, is a vector field used to mathematically describe the motion of a continuum. The length of the flow velocity vector is the flow speed and is a scalar. It is also called velocity field; when evaluated along a line, it is called a velocity profile.

Perpendicular property of being perpendicular (perpendicularity) is the relationship between two lines which meet at a right angle (90 degrees). The property extends to other related geometric objects

In elementary geometry, the property of being perpendicular (perpendicularity) is the relationship between two lines which meet at a right angle. The property extends to other related geometric objects.

Euclidean vector geometric object that has magnitude (or length) and direction

In mathematics, physics, and engineering, a Euclidean vector is a geometric object that has magnitude and direction. Vectors can be added to other vectors according to vector algebra. A Euclidean vector is frequently represented by a line segment with a definite direction, or graphically as an arrow, connecting an initial pointA with a terminal pointB, and denoted by

Wave flumes may be used to study the effects of water waves on coastal structures, offshore structures, sediment transport and other transport phenomena.

Coastal management

Coastal management is defence against flooding and erosion, and techniques that stop erosion to claim lands.

Offshore construction installation of structures and facilities in a marine environment

Offshore construction is the installation of structures and facilities in a marine environment, usually for the production and transmission of electricity, oil, gas and other resources. It is also called maritime engineering.

Sediment transport The movement of solid particles, typically by gravity and fluid entrainment

Sediment transport is the movement of solid particles (sediment), typically due to a combination of gravity acting on the sediment, and/or the movement of the fluid in which the sediment is entrained. Sediment transport occurs in natural systems where the particles are clastic rocks, mud, or clay; the fluid is air, water, or ice; and the force of gravity acts to move the particles along the sloping surface on which they are resting. Sediment transport due to fluid motion occurs in rivers, oceans, lakes, seas, and other bodies of water due to currents and tides. Transport is also caused by glaciers as they flow, and on terrestrial surfaces under the influence of wind. Sediment transport due only to gravity can occur on sloping surfaces in general, including hillslopes, scarps, cliffs, and the continental shelf—continental slope boundary.

The waves are most often generated with a mechanical wavemaker, although there are also wind–wave flumes with (additional) wave generation by an air flow over the water – with the flume closed above by a roof above the free surface. The wavemaker frequently consists of a translating or rotating rigid wave board. Modern wavemakers are computer controlled, and can generate besides periodic waves also random waves, solitary waves, wave groups or even tsunami-like wave motion. The wavemaker is at one end of the wave flume, and at the other end is the construction being tested, or a wave absorber (a beach or special wave absorbing constructions).

Periodic function function that repeats its values in regular intervals or periods

In mathematics, a periodic function is a function that repeats its values in regular intervals or periods. The most important examples are the trigonometric functions, which repeat over intervals of 2π radians. Periodic functions are used throughout science to describe oscillations, waves, and other phenomena that exhibit periodicity. Any function that is not periodic is called aperiodic.

<i>Tsunami</i> Series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water

A tsunami or tidal wave,, also known as a seismic sea wave, is a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water, generally in an ocean or a large lake. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami. Unlike normal ocean waves, which are generated by wind, or tides, which are generated by the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun, a tsunami is generated by the displacement of water.

Often, the side walls contain glass windows, or are completely made of glass, allowing for a clear visual observation of the experiment, and the easy deployment of optical instruments (e.g. by Laser Doppler velocimetry or particle image velocimetry).

Laser Doppler velocimetry

Laser Doppler velocimetry, also known as laser Doppler anemometry, is the technique of using the Doppler shift in a laser beam to measure the velocity in transparent or semi-transparent fluid flows or the linear or vibratory motion of opaque, reflecting surfaces. The measurement with laser Doppler anemometry is absolute, linear with velocity and requires no pre-calibration.

Particle image velocimetry (PIV) is an optical method of flow visualization used in education and research. It is used to obtain instantaneous velocity measurements and related properties in fluids. The fluid is seeded with tracer particles which, for sufficiently small particles, are assumed to faithfully follow the flow dynamics. The fluid with entrained particles is illuminated so that particles are visible. The motion of the seeding particles is used to calculate speed and direction of the flow being studied.

Circular wave basin

In 2014, the first , circular, combined current and wave test basin, FloWaveTT was commissioned in The University of Edinburgh. This allows for "true" 360° waves to be generated to simulate rough storm conditions as well as scientific controlled waves in the same facility. It was designed by Edinburgh Designs.

The FloWave TT ocean energy research facility is designed to test physical scale models of marine renewable energy devices, in a combined wave and current environment.

University of Edinburgh public research university in Edinburgh, Scotland

The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582, is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's ancient universities. The university has five main campuses in the city of Edinburgh, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university. The university played an important role in leading Edinburgh to its reputation as a chief intellectual centre during the Age of Enlightenment, and helped give the city the nickname of the Athens of the North.

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Further reading

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Ripple tank

In physics and engineering, a ripple tank is a shallow glass tank of water used in schools and colleges to demonstrate the basic properties of waves. It is a specialized form of a wave tank. The ripple tank is usually illuminated from above, so that the light shines through the water. Some small ripple tanks fit onto the top of an overhead projector, i.e. they are illuminated from below. The ripples on the water show up as shadows on the screen underneath the tank. All the basic properties of waves, including reflection, refraction, interference and diffraction, can be demonstrated.

Wake Region of recirculating flow immediately behind or downstream of a moving or stationary solid body

In fluid dynamics, a wake may either be:

Capillary wave Wave traveling along the phase boundary of a fluid, whose dynamics and phase velocity are dominated by the effects of surface tension

A capillary wave is a wave traveling along the phase boundary of a fluid, whose dynamics and phase velocity are dominated by the effects of surface tension.

Wind wave Surface waves generated by wind that occur on the free surface of bodies of water

In fluid dynamics, wind waves, or wind-generated waves, are surface waves that occur on the free surface of bodies of water. They result from the wind blowing over an area of fluid surface. Waves in the oceans can travel thousands of miles before reaching land. Wind waves on Earth range in size from small ripples, to waves over 100 ft (30 m) high.

Wave power Transport of energy by wind waves, and the capture of that energy to do useful work

Wave power is the capture of energy of wind waves to do useful work – for example, electricity generation, water desalination, or pumping water. A machine that exploits wave power is a wave energy converter (WEC).

Internal wave Gravity waves that oscillate within a fluid medium with density variation with depth, rather than on the surface

Internal waves are gravity waves that oscillate within a fluid medium, rather than on its surface. To exist, the fluid must be stratified: the density must decrease continuously or discontinuously with depth/height due to changes, for example, in temperature and/or salinity. If the density changes over a small vertical distance, the waves propagate horizontally like surface waves, but do so at slower speeds as determined by the density difference of the fluid below and above the interface. If the density changes continuously, the waves can propagate vertically as well as horizontally through the fluid.

Breakwater (structure) Structure constructed on coasts as part of coastal management or to protect an anchorage

Breakwaters are structures constructed near the coasts as part of coastal management or to protect an anchorage from the effects of both weather and longshore drift.

Water channel may refer to:

Swell (ocean) A series of waves generated by distant weather systems

A swell, in the context of an ocean, sea or lake, is a series of mechanical waves that propagate along the interface between water and air and thus are often referred to as surface gravity waves. These series of surface gravity waves are not wind waves, which are generated by the immediate local wind, but instead are generated by distant weather systems, where wind blows for a duration of time over a fetch of water. More generally, a swell consists of wind-generated waves that are not—or are hardly—affected by the local wind at that time. Swell waves often have a long wavelength, but this varies due to the size, strength and duration of the weather system responsible for the swell and the size of the water body. Swell wavelength also varies from event to event. Occasionally, swells which are longer than 700 m occur as a result of the most severe storms. Swells have a narrower range of frequencies and directions than locally generated wind waves, because swell waves have dispersed from their generation area, have dissipated and therefore lost an amount of randomness, taking on a more defined shape and direction. Swell direction is the direction from which the swell is coming. It is measured in degrees, and often referred to in general directions, such as a NNW or SW swell.

Swash A turbulent layer of water that washes up on the beach after an incoming wave has broken

Swash, or forewash in geography, is a turbulent layer of water that washes up on the beach after an incoming wave has broken. The swash action can move beach materials up and down the beach, which results in the cross-shore sediment exchange. The time-scale of swash motion varies from seconds to minutes depending on the type of beach. Greater swash generally occurs on flatter beaches. The swash motion plays the primary role in the formation of morphological features and their changes in the swash zone. The swash action also plays an important role as one of the instantaneous processes in wider coastal morphodynamics.

Breaking wave A wave that becomes unstable as a consequence of excessive steepness

In fluid dynamics, a breaking wave is a wave whose amplitude reaches a critical level at which some process can suddenly start to occur that causes large amounts of wave energy to be transformed into turbulent kinetic energy. At this point, simple physical models that describe wave dynamics often become invalid, particularly those that assume linear behaviour.

Shallow water equations A set of partial differential equations that describe the flow below a pressure surface in a fluid

The shallow water equations are a set of hyperbolic partial differential equations that describe the flow below a pressure surface in a fluid. The shallow water equations in unidirectional form are also called Saint-Venant equations, after Adhémar Jean Claude Barré de Saint-Venant.

Wave radar Technology for measuring surface waves on water

Wind waves can be measured by several radar remote sensing techniques. Several instruments based on a variety of different concepts and techniques are available, and these are all often called wave radars. This article, gives a brief description of the most common ground-based radar remote sensing techniques.

Sedimentary structures include all kinds of features formed at the time of deposition. Sediments and sedimentary rocks are characterized by bedding, which occurs when layers of sediment, with different particle sizes are deposited on top of each other. These beds range from millimeters to centimeters thick and can even go to meters or multiple meters thick.


An antidune is a bedform found in fluvial and other channeled environments. Antidunes occur in supercritical flow, meaning that the Froude number is greater than 1.0 or the flow velocity exceeds the wave velocity; this is also known as upper flow regime. In antidunes, sediment is deposited on the upstream (stoss) side and eroded from the downstream (lee) side, opposite lower flow regime bedforms. As a result, antidunes migrate in an upstream direction, counter to the current flow. Antidunes are called in-phase bedforms, meaning that the water surface elevation mimics the bed elevation; this is due to the supercritical flow regime. Antidune bedforms evolve rapidly, growing in amplitude as they migrate upstream. The resultant wave at the water's surface also increases in amplitude. When that wave becomes unstable, breaks and washes downstream, much of the antidune bedform may be destroyed.

Hummocky cross-stratification

Hummocky cross-stratification is a type of sedimentary structure found in sandstones. It is a form of cross-bedding usually formed by the action of large storms, such as hurricanes. It takes the form of a series of "smile"-like shapes, crosscutting each other. It is only formed at a depth of water below fair-weather wave base and above storm-weather wave base. They are not related to "hummocks" except in shape.


Evopod is a unique tidal energy device being developed by a UK-based company Oceanflow Energy Ltd for generating electricity from tidal streams and ocean currents. It can operate in exposed deep water sites where severe wind and waves also make up the environment.

In physical oceanography, undertow is the under-current that is moving offshore when waves are approaching the shore. Undertow is a necessary and universal feature for almost any large body of water: it is a return flow compensating for the onshore-directed average transport of water by the waves in the zone above the wave troughs. The undertow's flow velocities are generally strongest in the surf zone, where the water is shallow and the waves are high due to shoaling.

In computational fluid dynamics, TELEMAC is short for the open TELEMAC-MASCARET system, or a suite of finite element computer program owned by the Laboratoire National d'Hydraulique et Environnement (LNHE), part of the R&D group of Électricité de France. After many years of commercial distribution, a Consortium was officially created in January 2010 to organize the open source distribution of the open TELEMAC-MASCARET system now available under GPLv2.