What is it about?

Traveling water waves are associated with spectacular oceanographic phenomena. We demonstrate how the overturning and formation of plunging breakers and whitecaps emerge as the dominant mechanisms for the disintegration of steep water waves. The study presented here was facilitated by the introduction of new techniques to determine waveforms, their nonlinear dynamics, and a matrix-free approach to the large-scale eigenvalue problem.

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Why is it important?

Wave-breaking and whitecaps appear as a result of instability of traveling waves. These processes are pivotal in oxygenating water and dispersing nutrients, and play a fundamental role in marine ecosystems. Similarly, the Benjamin-Feir instability, a specific manifestation of wave instability, results in the formation of rogue waves. Often termed "walls of water," these unpredictable waves amplify in height under certain conditions, posing considerable threats to ships and offshore platforms.

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This page is a summary of: The dominant instability of near-extreme Stokes waves, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2308935120.
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