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Dromions of flexural-gravity waves

  • Mohammad-Reza Alam (a1)

Here we show that weakly nonlinear flexural-gravity wave packets, such as those propagating on the surface of ice-covered waters, admit three-dimensional fully localized solutions that travel with a constant speed without dispersion or dissipation. These solutions, that are formed at the intersection of line-soliton mean-flow tracks, have exponentially decaying tails in all directions and are called dromions in contrast to lumps that decay only algebraically. We derive, by asymptotic expansion and assuming multiple scales for spatial and temporal variations, the three-dimensional weakly nonlinear governing equations that describe the coupled motion of the wavepacket envelope and the underlying mean current. We show that in the limit of long waves and strong flexural rigidity these equations reduce to a system of nonlinear elliptic–hyperbolic partial differential equations similar to the Davey–Stewartson I (DSI) equation, but with major differences in the coefficients. Specifically, and contrary to DSI equations, the elliptic and hyperbolic operators in the flexural-gravity equations are not canonical resulting in complications in analytical considerations. Furthermore, standard computational techniques encounter difficulties in obtaining the dromion solution to these equations owing to the presence of a spatial hyperbolic operator whose solution does not decay at infinity. Here, we present a direct (iterative) numerical scheme that uses pseudo-spectral expansion and pseudo-time integration to find the dromion solution to the flexural-gravity wave equation. Details of this direct simulation technique are discussed and properties of the solution are elaborated through an illustrative case study. Dromions may play an important role in transporting energy over the ice cover in the Arctic, resulting in the ice breaking far away from the ice edge, and also posing danger to icebreaker ships. In fact we found that, contrary to DSI dromions that only exist in water depths of less than 5 mm, flexural-gravity dromions exist for a broad range of ice thicknesses and water depths including values that may be realized in polar oceans.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
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