On wave-action and its relatives
Conservable quantities measuring ‘wave activity’ are discussed. The equation for the most fundamental such quantity, wave-action, is derived in a simple but very general form which does not depend on the approximations of slow amplitude modulation, linearization, or conservative motion. The derivation is elementary, in the sense that a variational formulation of the equations of fluid motion is not used. The result depends, however, on a description of the disturbance in terms of particle displacements rather than velocities. A corollary is an elementary but general derivation of the approximate form of the wave-action equation found by Bretherton & Garrett (1968) for slowlyvarying, linear waves.
The sense in which the general wave-action equation follows from the classical ‘energy-momentum-tensor’ formalism is discussed, bringing in the concepts of pseudomomentum and pseudoenergy, which in turn are related to special cases such as Blokhintsev's conservation law in acoustics. Wave-action, pseudomomentum and pseudoenergy are the appropriate conservable measures of wave activity when ‘waves’ are defined respectively as departures from ensemble-, space- and time-averaged flows.
The relationship between the wave drag on a moving boundary and the fluxes of momentum and pseudomomentum is discussed.(Published Online April 19 2006)
(Received October 9 1976)
(Revised July 12 1978)
p1 Present address: Meteorology Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.