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Science backs up the claim: The best waves are created by winds


Scientists who study waves have confirmed what surfers already know - the best waves are created by winds. Falk Feddersen is a professor at Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

FALK FEDDERSEN: The wind doesn't just affect how much the wave tubes, but it also affects at what location the wave breaks and how much turbulence the wave generates.


Feddersen and his team of researchers wanted to know more about how that works, so they took a trip to the Kelly Slater Wave Company Surf Ranch. Yes, there really is a surf ranch on the central California coast.

FEDDERSEN: It's essentially - can be treated as a laboratory. We can control the waves but then the wind naturally varied.

INSKEEP: They found offshore winds make the best tube or barrel waves. You can picture them now - the top of the wave curving downward, maybe a surfer in there, looking tiny.

FEDDERSEN: Offshore wind is when the wind blows from land straight out to sea. Onshore wind is when wind blows from sea straight onto land.

FADEL: The researcher will help create wave models that can be used to predict and track coastal flooding and shore erosion.

INSKEEP: And if surfers should also get some clues from all this, they'll surely be stoked.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.