:"Seiche" is also a French term for a type of
A seiche (pronounced IPA|/seɪʃ/, or approximately "saysh") is a
standing wavein an enclosed or partially enclosed body of water. Seiches and seiche-related phenomena have been observed on lakes, reservoirs, bays and seas. The key requirement for formation of a seiche is that the body of water be at least partially bounded, allowing natural phenomena to form a standing wave.
The term was first promoted by the Swiss hydrologist
François-Alphonse Forelin 1890, who had observed the effect in Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The word originates in a Swiss Frenchdialect word that means "to sway back and forth", which had apparently long been used in the region to describe oscillations in alpine lakes.
Causes and nature of seiches
Seiches are often imperceptible to the naked eye, and observers in boats on the surface may not notice that a seiche is occurring due to the extremely long wavelengths. The effect is caused by resonances in a body of water that has been disturbed by one or more of a number of factors, most often meteorological effects (wind and atmospheric pressure variations), seismic activity or by
tsunamis [Tsunamis are normally associated with earthquakes, but landslides, volcanic eruptions and meteorite impacts all have the potential to generate a tsunami.] . Gravityalways seeks to restore the horizontal surface of a body of liquid water, as this represents the configuration in which the water is in hydrostatic equilibrium. Vertical harmonic motion results, producing an impulse that travels the length of the basin at a velocity that depends on the depth of the water. The impulse is reflected back from the end of the basin, generating interference. Repeated reflections produce standing waves with one or more nodes, or points, that experience no vertical motion. The frequency of the oscillation is determined by the size of the basin, its depth and contours, and the water temperature. The length of the lake is an exact multiple of the distance between nodes.
The longest natural period [The longest natural period is the period associated with the fundamental resonance for the body of water—corresponding to the longest standing wave.] for a seiche in an enclosed rectangular body of water is usually represented by the Merian formula:: where "L" is the length, "h" the average depth of the body of water, and "g" the acceleration of gravity. [As an example, the period for a seiche wave in a body of water 10 meters deep and 5 kilometers long would be 1000 seconds or about 17 minutes, while a body about 300 km long (such as the
Gulf of Finland) and somewhat deeper has a period closer to 12 hours.]
Higher order harmonics are also observed. The period of the second harmonic will be half the natural period, the period of the third harmonic will be a third of the natural period, and so forth.
eiches around the world
Seiches have been observed on both lakes and seas. The key requirement is that the body of water be partially constrained to allow formation of standing waves. Regularity of geometry is not required, even harbors with exceedingly irregular shapes are routinely observed to oscillate with very stable frequencies.
Small rhythmic seiches are almost always present on larger lakes. On the
North American Great Lakes, seiche is often called "slosh". It is always present, but is usually unnoticeable, except during periods of unusual calm. Harbours, bays, and estuariesare often prone to small seiches with amplitudes of a few centimeters and periods of a few minutes. Seiches can also form in semi-enclosed seas; the North Seaoften experiences a lengthwise seiche with a period of about 36 hours.
Lake Erie, recorded between Buffalo, New York("red") and Toledo, Ohio("blue") on November 14, 2003]
National Weather Serviceissues low water advisories for portions of the Great Lakes when seiches of 2 feet or greater are likely to occur. [ National Weather Service. [http://www.weather.gov/directives/sym/pd01003001curr.pdf National Weather Service Instruction 10-301.] Retrieved on 2008-01-31.] Lake Erieis particularly prone to wind-caused seiches because of its shallowness and elongation. These can lead to extreme seiches of up to 5 m (16 feet) between the ends of the lake. The effect is similar to a storm surgelike that caused by hurricanes along ocean coasts, but the seiche effect can cause oscillation back and forth across the lake for some time. In 1954, Hurricane Hazelpiled up water along the northwestern Lake Ontarioshoreline near Toronto, causing extensive flooding, and established a seiche that subsequently caused flooding along the south shore.
Lake seiches can occur very quickly: on
July 13, 1995, a big seiche on Lake Superiorcaused the water level to fall and then rise again by three feet (one meter) within fifteen minutes, leaving some boats hanging from the docks on their mooring lines when the water retreated. [Ben Korgen. [http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/newsletter/2000/02/bonanza_for_lake_superior_seiches_do_more_than_move_water.html Bonanza for Lake Superior: Seiches Do More Than Move Water.] Retrieved on 2008-01-31.] On Lake Michigan, eight fishermen were swept away and drowned when a 10-foot seiche hit the Chicagowaterfront on June 26, 1954. [Illinois State Geological Survey. [http://www.isgs.uiuc.edu/sections/engin-coast/lakemich-coastal-seiches.shtml Seiches: Sudden, Large Waves a Lake Michigan Danger.] Retrieved on 2008-01-31.]
Lakes in seismically active areas, such as
Lake Tahoein California/ Nevada, are significantly at risk from seiches. Geological evidence indicates that the shores of Lake Tahoe may have been hit by seiches and tsunamis as much as 10 m (33 feet) high in prehistoric times, and local researchers have called for the risk to be factored into emergency plans for the region. [Kathryn Brown. [http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20000610/bob9.asp Tsunami! At Lake Tahoe?] Retrieved on 2008-01-31.] Earthquake-generated seiches can be observed thousands of miles away from the epicentre of a quake. Swimming poolsare especially prone to seiches caused by earthquakes, as the ground tremors often match the resonant frequencies of small bodies of water. The 1994 Northridge earthquakein Californiacaused swimming pools to overflow across southern California. The massive Good Friday Earthquakethat hit Alaskain 1964caused seiches in swimming pools as far away as Puerto Rico. The earthquake that hit Lisbon, Portugal in 1755caused seiches in canals 2,000 miles (3,000 km) away in Scotlandand Sweden. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquakecaused seiches in standing water bodies in many Indian states as well as in Bangladesh, Nepaland northern Thailand[In fact, one person was drowned after being swept away in a particularly energetic seiches in the Jalangi Riverin the Nadia district to the north of Kolkata in West Bengal [http://asc-india.org/lib/20041226-sumatra.htm (see also Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake)] ] . Seiches were again observed in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Naduand West Bengalin Indiaas well as in many locations in Bangladeshduring the 2005 Kashmir earthquake[ [http://asc-india.org/lib/20051008-kashkoh.htm Kashmir earthquake] ] . The 1950 Chayu-Upper Assam earthquake is known to have generated seiches as far as Norwayand southern England. Other earthquakes in the Indian sub-continent known to have generated seiches include the 1803 Kumaon-Barahat, 1819 Allah Bund, 1842 Central Bengal, 1905 Kangra, 1930 Dhubri, 1934 Nepal-Bihar, 2001 Bhuj, 2005 Nias, 2005 Teresa Island earthquakes.
ea and bay seiches
Seiches have been observed in seas such as the
Adriatic Seaand the Baltic Sea, resulting in flooding of Veniceand St. Petersburgrespectively. The latter is constructed on drained marshlands at the mouth of the Nevariver. Seiche-induced flooding is common along the Neva river in the autumn. The seiche is driven by a low pressure region in the North Atlanticmoving onshore, giving rise to cyclonic lows on the Baltic Sea. The low pressure of the cyclone draws greater-than-normal quantities of water into the virtually land-locked Baltic. As the cyclone continues inland, long, low-frequency seiche waves with wavelengths up to several hundred kilometers are established in the Baltic. When the waves reach the narrow and shallow Neva Bay, they become much higher - ultimately flooding the Neva embankments [This behaves in a fashion similar to a tidal borewhere incoming tides are funneled into a shallow, narrowing river via a broad bay. The funnel-like shape increases the height of the tide above normal, and the flood appears as a relatively rapid increase in the water level.] . Similar phenomena are observed at Venice, resulting in the MOSE Project, a system of 79 mobile barriers designed to protect the three entrances to the Venetian Lagoon.
Seiches can also be induced by
tsunami, a wave train (series of waves) generated in a body of water by a pulsating or abrupt disturbance that vertically displaces the water column. On occasion, tsunamis can produce seiches as a result of local geographic peculiarities. For instance, the tsunami that hit Hawaiiin 1946had a fifteen-minute interval between wave fronts. The natural resonant period of Hilo Bay is about thirty minutes. That meant that every second wave was in phase with the motion of Hilo Bay, creating a seiche in the bay. As a result, Hilo suffered worse damage than any other place in Hawaii, with the tsunami/seiche reaching a height of 14 m and killing 159 inhabitants. Seiche waves may continue for several days after a tsunami.
Underwater (internal) waves
Although the bulk of the technical literature addresses surface seiches which are most readily observed, seiches are also observed beneath the lake surface acting along the
thermocline[The thermoclineis the boundary between colder lower layer ( hypolimnion) and warmer upper layer ( epilimnion).] in constrained bodies of water.
Engineering for seiche protection
Engineers consider seiche phenomena in the design of flood protection works (e.g.,
Saint Petersburg Dam), reservoirs and dams (e.g., Grand Coulee Dam), potable water storage basins, harbours and even spent nuclear fuel storage basins.
Severe weather terminology (United States)
Severe weather terminology (Canada)
External links and references
* [http://www.seagrant.wisc.edu/communications/lakelevels/seiche.htm What is a "seiche"?]
* [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=68339 Seiche. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 24, 2004, from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.]
* [http://www.coastal.udel.edu/faculty/rad/seiche.html Seiche calculator]
* [http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/newsletter/2000/02/bonanza_for_lake_superior_seiches_do_more_than_move_water.html Bonanza for Lake Superior: Seiches Do More Than Move Water]
"On aquatic monsters":
* [http://www.unmuseum.org/mwave.htm The unmuseum on seiches & their relationship to aquatic monsters]
* [http://www.csicop.org/si/2003-07/i-files.html The Skeptical Inquirer on seiches & their relationship to aquatic monsters]
* [http://geology.about.com/library/weekly/aa070101a.htm Geological page on seiches & their relationship to aquatic monsters]
References and notes
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