Effect of Water Depth, Continental Slope, and Applied Mass on the Horizontal Range of Wave

This experiment tested the effects of three water depths (5, 7.5, and 10 centimeters), three angles of elevation (15, 22.5, and 30 degrees), and three applied mass values (600, 800, and 1000 grams) on the horizontal distance covered by a wave onshore. Trials were carried out by videotaping the arrival of each wave onshore. The video was played back and paused at the wave’s highest point. The distance was determined by matching the wave on the incline to horizontal marks previously drawn on the tank.

As expected, all the variables had a statistically significant effect. The effects of water depth and continental slope were both negative (-7.375 and -7.458, respectively) while the effect of applied mass was positive (7.958). So, as water depth and continental slope increased, the wave’s distance dramatically decreased, and as mass increased, the distance dramatically increased. The interaction between slope and mass was also significant, at -3.875, meaning that mass worked with slope to affect the onshore distance traveled by the wave.

It is important to study the characteristics and effects of waves as ocean levels rise and tropical storms continue to hit coastal areas with increasing populations. By studying the factors that affect the strength of storm surges, at-risk areas (such as shallow bays, beaches with little to no slope, or long channels or canals) can be identified, and their infrastructure bolstered to remain functional in their changing environment. Engineers and people in general should know the risks they face before building in a new area.

Research Conducted By:

Sarah DeSantis
Cousino High School

Jacob Nadolsky
Cousino High School