Journal of Fluid Mechanics

The runup of solitary waves

Costas Emmanuel  Synolakis a1
a1 School of Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089–0242, USA

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This is a study of the runup of solitary waves on plane beaches. An approximate theory is presented for non-breaking waves and an asymptotic result is derived for the maximum runup of solitary waves. A series of laboratory experiments is described to support the theory. It is shown that the linear theory predicts the maximum runup satisfactorily, and that the nonlinear theory describes the climb of solitary waves equally well. Different runup regimes are found to exist for the runup of breaking and non-breaking waves. A breaking criterion is derived for determining whether a solitary wave will break as it climbs up a sloping beach, and a different criterion is shown to apply for determining whether a wave will break during rundown. These results are used to explain some of the existing empirical runup relationships.

(Published Online April 21 2006)
(Received August 22 1986)
(Revised May 9 1987)