Surface waves and turbulence on the surface of the ocean present the largest energy reservoir in the ocean (18 TW compared with ~3.5 TW from the tides). Surface waves affects general circulation in the ocean, and may be partly responsible for the climate and its changes.
Waves on the surface of liquids can provide information about properties of the surface and of the fluid itself. The presence of thin films on the fluid surface significantly changes properties of the waves and is used for detection of the hydrocarbon films on the surface of the sea.
Surface waves are ideally suited for studying fundamental instabilities and turbulence in nonlinear strongly dispersive mediums. A surface wave facility in the Physics of Fluids Laboratory is based on a 4 kN electrodynamic shaker. Waves on the fluid surface are parametrically excited in a vertically vibrating container (the Faraday waves). Laser, optical and microwave scattering techniques are used to characterize surface waves and to study their nonlinear evolution.