Fully nonlinear extensions of Boussinesq equations are derived to simulate surface wave propagation in coastal regions. By using the velocity at a certain depth as a dependent variable (Nwogu 1993), the resulting equations have significantly improved linear dispersion properties in intermediate water depths when compared to standard Boussinesq approximations. Since no assumption of small nonlinearity is made, the equations can be applied to simulate strong wave interactions prior to wave breaking. A high-order numerical model based on the equations is developed and applied to the study of two canonical problems: solitary wave shoaling on slopes and undular bore propagation over a horizontal bed. Results of the Boussinesq model with and without strong nonlinearity are compared in detail to those of a boundary element solution of the fully nonlinear potential flow problem developed by Grilli et al. (1989). The fully nonlinear variant of the Boussinesq model is found to predict wave heights, phase speeds and particle kinematics more accurately than the standard approximation.
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