Journal of Fluid Mechanics


On some consequences of the canonical transformation in the Hamiltonian theory of water waves


a1 European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Shinfield Park, Reading RG2 9AX, UK


We discuss some consequences of the canonical transformation in the Hamiltonian theory of water waves (Zakharov, J. Appl. Mech. Tech. Phys., vol. 9, 1968, pp. 190–194). Using Krasitskii's canonical transformation we derive general expressions for the second-order wavenumber and frequency spectrum and the skewness and the kurtosis of the sea surface. For deep-water waves, the second-order wavenumber spectrum and the skewness play an important role in understanding the so-called sea-state bias as seen by a radar altimeter. According to the present approach but in contrast with results obtained by Barrick & Weber (J. Phys. Oceanogr., vol. 7, 1977, pp. 11–21), in deep water second-order effects on the wavenumber spectrum are relatively small. However, in shallow water in which waves are more nonlinear, the second-order effects are relatively large and help to explain the formation of the observed second harmonics and infra-gravity waves in the coastal zone. The second-order effects on the directional-frequency spectrum are as a rule more important; in particular it is shown how the Stokes-frequency correction affects the shape of the frequency spectrum, and it is also discussed why in the context of the second-order theory the mean-square slope cannot be estimated from time series. The kurtosis of the wave field is a relevant parameter in the detection of extreme sea states. Here, it is argued that in contrast perhaps to one's intuition, the kurtosis decreases while the waves approach the coast. This is related to the generation of the wave-induced current and the associated change in mean sea level.

(Received December 11 2008)

(Revised May 07 2009)

(Accepted May 07 2009)

(Online publication September 18 2009)


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