a1 Department of Mathematics, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1053 Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway
A large number of simulations have been performed to reveal how the occurrence of freak waves on deep water depends on the group and crest lengths for fixed steepness. It is found that there is a sharp qualitative transition between short- and long-crested sea, for a crest length of approximately ten wavelengths. For short crest lengths the statistics of freak waves deviates little from Gaussian and their occurrence is independent of group length (or Benjamin–Feir index, BFI). For long crest lengths the statistics of freak waves is strongly non-Gaussian and the group length (or BFI) is a good indicator of increased freak wave activity.
(Received December 18 2006)
(Revised April 17 2007)