The time-space evolution of a steep water wave reaching the breaking stage is observed by means of a visualization technique. In particular, the asymmetry of the wave profile in the near-breaking region is displayed. Measurements at breaking onset on a sample of breaking waves show a relation between the rate of asymmetry growth and the breaker type. The shape evolution of a plunging crest after breaking has started, and the related splash-up phenomenon and its part in the air-entrainment process are also observed.
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