The Importance of a Wave

Preview A wave curls near the shore.
(Flickr user bluewavechris)

Large waves are a draw for surfers, scientists and spectators alike to locations around the world. Changes to the coast and ocean floor as well as sediment flow can change the nature of a wave as it reaches shore. So when three condos were going to be built on the shore of his favorite surfing spot, a surfer turned to economics. Turns out you can quantify the value of waves by looking at how much money they bring in through tourism to shops, restaurants and other businesses. Also included though is waves' "non-market" value--the amount that people are willing to pay to make sure they exist in the future.