On the unsteady steepening of short gravity waves near the crests of longer waves in the absence of generation or dissipation

Type Article
Date 2021-01
Language English
Author(s) Peureux Charles1, Ardhuin FabriceORCID1, Guimarães Pedro Veras2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ. Brest CNRS Ifremer IRD Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique et Spatiale 29200 Brest, France
2 : LHEEA lab UMR6598 École Centrale de Nantes 44300 Nantes, France
Source Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans (2169-9275) (American Geophysical Union (AGU)), 2021-01 , Vol. 126 , N. 1 , P. e2020JC016735 (16p.)
DOI 10.1029/2020JC016735
WOS© Times Cited 1
Note This article also appears in: Remote Sensing of Ocean Surface Currents Using Doppler Techniques From Planes and Satellites
Keyword(s) instability, modulation, wind waves

The wave action equation provides a general framework that has been applied to the conservative hydrodynamic interactions between short and long surface waves. So far, only a limited range of solutions have been investigated. Here we show that the wave action equation predicts that groups of short waves propagating over long monochromatic waves are unstable. We demonstrate theoretically and numerically a new ratchet‐type instability that progressively condenses short wave action around the long wave crests due to the correlation of phase speed and action fluctuations. This instability is of particular interest because it may lead to a higher probability of breaking for short waves propagating in directions within ±35 degrees of the dominant waves direction. This preferred breaking could have a strong impact on cross‐wind and down‐wind slope statistics and thus air‐sea exchanges and remote sensing.

Plain Language Summary

Short waves riding on long waves tend to focus their energy near the crest of the long waves. This focusing is most pronounced for short waves propagating within 35 degrees of the long wave direction, and may lead to a preferential breaking of short waves. This effect may explain the relatively low energy observed in short waves that propagate near the direction of the long waves.

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How to cite 

Peureux Charles, Ardhuin Fabrice, Guimarães Pedro Veras (2021). On the unsteady steepening of short gravity waves near the crests of longer waves in the absence of generation or dissipation. Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans, 126(1), e2020JC016735 (16p.). Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JC016735 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00661/77318/