Phenomena

Below a Surfer’s Wave

From below a plunging breaking wave–the classic surfer’s wave–looks like a giant vortex tube. Smaller rib vortices, the rings around the main vortex in the photo above, can form where there are variations along the breaking wave. As the wave rolls on, it stretches the vorticity variations along the wave’s span. When stretched, vortices spin up and intensify; this is a result of conservation of angular momentum. Check out more amazing photos of waves in Ray Collins’ portfolio. (Photo credit: R. Collins; via The Inertia)

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