Nov. 18, 2010

The Science of Big Surf

by Leslie Taylor

Video uploaded by KQEDondemand

In this video, QUEST talks with scientists about what makes a monster wave, focusing on the big break north of Half Moon Bay in Northern California known as "Mavericks." The waves there can get as big as a four story building. The waves that surfers are interested in are called surface-wind waves; the size of the wave depends on wind speed, fetch (the distance of water the wind is blowing over), and the duration of the wind.

About Leslie Taylor

Leslie is the online editor at and She has a background in oceanography and is passionate about getting non-scientists and young people to realize how cool science can be. She is also Science Friday's former web editor.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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