Wave characteristics
Wave characteristics

In fluid dynamics, the wave height of a surface wave is the difference between the elevations of a crest and a neighboring trough.[1] Wave height is a term used by mariners, as well as in coastal, ocean and naval engineering.

At sea, the term significant wave height is used as a means to introduce a well-defined and standardized statistic to denote the characteristic height of the random waves in a sea state, including wind sea and swell. It is defined in such a way that it more or less corresponds to what a mariner observes when estimating visually the average wave height.


Depending on context, wave height may be defined in different ways:

See also


  1. ^ a b c Kinsman (1984, p. 38)
  2. ^ a b c d Holthuijsen (2007, pp. 24–28)
  3. ^ Holthuijsen (2007, p. 70)


  • Holthuijsen, Leo H. (2007), Waves in Oceanic and Coastal Waters, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-86028-8, 387 pages.
  • Kinsman, Blair (1984), Wind waves: their generation and propagation on the ocean surface, Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-49511-6, 704 pages.
  • Phillips, Owen M. (1977), The dynamics of the upper ocean (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-29801-6, viii & 336 pages.