Jim Thomson

Principal Oceanographer

AIRS Department


Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering


Andy Jessup

Chair, AIRS Department

Senior Principal Oceanographer

AIRS Department


Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Affiliate Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Johannes Gemmrich

Research Scientist

University of Victoria

Wave Breaking in Mixed Seas

Wave breaking is the key term that controls the evolution of waves on the ocean surface. We use a variety of platforms. One is a drifter. We deploy it from the ship and then let it go freely, untethered. It collects and stores data on board.

"The real advantage is being able to understand the spatial distribution of these things. So the drifters, you can see, are small. They make a measurement just at a point. And up on the mast of the drifter, we have a GoPro video camera and it's running in HD. With the GoPro we can see how big was the wave that just broke. How long was that crest that just broke? How long was there a breaking crest that has foam and has white water? How long was that there? And then we relate it to the turbulence we measure in the water. A big practical application of this is to understand how many waves and how much wave energy will end up at a coastline."

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