Equations governing modulations of weakly nonlinear water waves are described. The modulations are coupled with wave-induced mean flows except in the case of water deeper than the modulation length scale. Equations suitable for water depths of the order the modulation length scale are deduced from those derived by Davey and Stewartson  and Dysthe . A number of ases in which these equations reduce to a one dimensional nonlinear Schrödinger (NLS) equation are enumerated.
Several analytical solutions of NLS equations are presented, with discussion of some of their implications for describing the propagation of water waves. Some of the solutions have not been presented in detail, or in convenient form before. One is new, a “rational” solution describing an “amplitude peak” which is isolated in space-time. Ma's  soli ton is particularly relevant to the recurrence of uniform wave trains in the experiment of Lake et al..
In further discussion it is pointed out that although water waves are unstable to three-dimensional disturbances, an effective description of weakly nonlinear two-dimensional waves would be a useful step towards describing ocean wave propagation.
(Received August 09 1982)
1 School of Mathematics, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1 TW, England.