Waves are generally recognized by the surfaces over which they break. For example, there are beach breaks, reef breaks and point breaks.
The most important influence on wave shape is the topography of the seabed directly behind and immediately beneath the breaking wave. Each break is different since each location’s underwater topography is unique. At beach breaks, sandbanks change shape from week to week. Surf forecasting is aided by advances in information technology. Mathematical modeling graphically depicts the size and direction of swells around the globe.