Emergence of coherent wave groups in deep-water random sea

C. Viotti, D. Dutykh, J. M. Dudley, F. Dias

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Extreme surface waves in a deep-water long-crested sea are often interpreted as a manifestation in the real world of the so-called breathing solitons of the focusing nonlinear Schrödinger equation. While the spontaneous emergence of such coherent structures from nonlinear wave dynamics was demonstrated to take place in fiber-optics systems, the same point remains far more controversial in the hydrodynamic case. With the aim to shed further light on this matter, the emergence of breatherlike coherent wave groups in a long-crested random sea is investigated here by means of high-resolution spectral simulations of the fully nonlinear two-dimensional Euler equations. The primary focus of our study is to parametrize the structure of random wave fields with respect to the Benjamin-Feir index, which is a nondimensional measure of the energy localization in Fourier space. This choice is motivated by previous results, showing that extreme-wave activity in a long-crested sea is highly sensitive to such a parameter, which is varied here by changing both the characteristic spectral bandwidth and the average wave steepness. It is found that coherent wave groups, closely matching realizations of Kuznetsov-Ma breathers in Euler dynamics, develop within wave fields characterized by sufficiently narrow-banded spectra. The characteristic spatial and temporal scales of wave group dynamics, and the corresponding occurrence of extreme events, are quantified and discussed by means of space-time autocorrelations of the surface elevation envelope and extreme-event statistics.

Original languageBritish English
Article number063001
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 3 Jun 2013


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