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The size of a wave depends on its fetch, wind speed and wind duration above the water.
Waves are a disturbance on the surface of the sea or ocean, in the form of a moving ridge or swell.
The fetch of a wave is the distance it has travelled.
The movement of water up a beach is known as swash.
The image shows a destructive wave. Destructive waves destroy beaches. The waves are usually very high, have a short wavelength and are very frequent. The wave has a steep front and is typically over 1 metre high. The backwash has less time to soak into the sand. As waves continue to hit the beach there is more running water to transport the material out to sea.
The image shows a constructive wave. Constructive waves have a long wavelength and a low-frequency (8–10 waves per minute). They have a low wave height (typically under 1 metre). The wavefront is gently sloping and gains a little height, breaks and spills onto the beach. Water spreads a long way up the gently sloping beach.
Destructive waves are more common in winter when the wind is stronger.
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