July 4, 2022

Two Hemispheres Differ in the Way the Wind Creates Waves for Surfing, and Weather Conditions Differ Correspondingly

Have you ever wondered what makes our favorite sport possible and creates the best conditions for it such as waves?

Knowing how waves are created is important because knowing that wind creates waves will help you to find better options. If you have been a surfer for years, you should know that some places are better than others in the meaning of wind and waves.

You can stay in one area and have good rides throughout the year while in some places you need to constantly relocate. Maybe you already know that the Northern Hemisphere creates the trickiest surfing spots with bigger waves.

It is all about geography — oceans and seas, surrounding landmasses, the way the wind creates waves, and — last but not least — types and strength of winds.

It all starts with sunshine entering our planet’s atmosphere, a sort of energy which provides heat, creates different climate zones, and is behind the main factor of wave formation — wind.

global surface winds

According to the laws of physics, solar energy is transferred to the global sea through the atmosphere where winds emerge. Let us explain this process in detail.

As a matter of fact, the Sun cannot warm our blue ball of a planet evenly, so the air is colder at both poles compared to the equator.

Paul Russell & Tony Butt in their book fittingly called Surf Science explain that in order to compensate for the uneven temperatures, the atmosphere needs to redistribute the heat. This physical process is called ‘convection’.

The warmer and less dense layer of air expands and rises up. In order to fill the resulting free space, colder air moves in thus creating wind.

The temperature varies between the poles and the equator according to seasons. For example, in the winter, it is much higher.

Now that we know the process behind it all, we can understand why the Northern Hemisphere creates more wind and the wind, in its turn, creates bigger waves in winter compared to summer.

surface wind

There is one more question to clear up: what produces consistency in the Southern Hemisphere in terms of wave formation and surfing?

It is an interesting problem that creates much discussion.

Compared to the North, the South does not have the same clime variation. This means no strong winter winds and no large waves.

All the things are livelier in the summer there. The landmass is also not as big in the Southern Hemisphere, so winds do not break up that often.

This means winds travel far and wide, gain more strength and create the best waves.

Southern Hemisphere surface wind

So, if you have trouble with catching decent rides on the waves in Hawaii, consider exploring Australian places in the winter.

The experience is nice all the year round but these few winter months make the difference between ‘good’ and ‘most awesome’ more stunning.

It’s just pure science that creates a complete understanding of these processes.

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