Wind Waves, Swell
North Pacific

Wind Waves, Swell, North Pacific

Flight 61A; 19.2N, 149.4W, 19:40:22 GMT, 3 Nov 1985

Ocean waves at sea always have been of keen interest to oceanographers and seamen alike. They were among the first phenomena to be considered by scientists planning observations from manned spacecraft. The scientists were not disappointed. To the east of the Big Island of Hawaii, in November 1985, the crew of the Challenger observed ocean swell among a number of slicks and eddies on the sea surface. The speckled pattern in the sun's glitter provided the clue that winds were spreading a local "sea" (waves of multiple wavelengths and direction) and whitecaps on top of the existing orderly swell. The discontinuous nature of the whitecaps is typical where the gusty trade winds blow.

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