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  • Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Volume 128
  • March 1983, pp. 489-506

Wave modulation and breakdown

  • W. K. Melville (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2006

Time series of amplitude, frequency, wavenumber and phase speed are measured in an unstable deep-water wavetrain using a Hilbert-transform technique. The modulation variables evolve from sinusoidal perturbations that are well described as slowly varying Stokes waves, through increasingly asymmetric modulations that finally result in very rapid jumps or ‘phase reversals’. These anomalies appear to correspond to the ‘crest pairing’ described by Ramamonjiarisoa & Mollo-Christensen (1979). The measurements offer a novel local description of the instability of deep-water waves which contrasts markedly with the description afforded by conventional Fourier decomposition. The measurements display very large local modulations in the phase speed, modulations that may not be anticipated from measurements of the phase speeds of individual Fourier components travelling (to leading order) at the linear phase speed (Lake & Yuen 1978).

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
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  • EISSN: 1469-7645
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