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T. Lamont-Smith and T. Waseda


Wave wire data from the large wind wave tank of the Ocean Engineering Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Barbara, are analyzed, and comparisons are made with published data collected in four other wave tanks. The behavior of wind waves at various fetches (7–80 m) is very similar to the behavior observed in the other tanks. When the nondimensional frequency F* or nondimensional significant wave height H* is plotted against nondimensional fetch x*, a large scatter in the data points is found. Multivariate regression to the dimensional parameters shows that significant wave height H sig is a function of U 2 x and frequency F is a function of U 1.25 x, where U is the wind speed and x is the horizontal distance, with the result that in general for wind waves at a particular fetch in a wave tank, approximately speaking, the wave frequency is inversely proportional to the square root of the wind speed and the wavelength is proportional to the wind speed. Similarly, the wave height is proportional to U 1.5 and the orbital velocity is proportional to U. Comparison with field data indicates a transition from this fetch law to the conventional one [the Joint North Sea Wave Project (JONSWAP)] for longer fetch. Despite differences in the fetch relationship for the wave tank and the field data, the wave height and wave period satisfy Toba’s 3/2 power law. This law imposes a strong constraint on the evolution of wind wave energy and frequency; consequently, the energy and momentum retention rate are not independent. Both retention rates grow with wind speed and fetch at the short fetches present in the wave tank. The observed retention rates are completely different from those typically observed in the field, but the same constraint (Toba’s 3/2 law) holds true.

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A. V. Babanin, T. Waseda, T. Kinoshita, and A. Toffoli


Wave breaking is observed in a laboratory experiment with waves of realistic average steepness and directional spread. It is shown that a modulational-instability mechanism is active in such circumstances and can lead to the breaking.

Experiments were conducted in the directional wave tank of the University of Tokyo, and the mechanically generated wave fields consisted of a primary wave with sidebands in the frequency domain, with continuous directional distribution in the angular domain. Initial steepness of the primary wave and sidebands, as well as the width of directional distributions varied in a broad range to determine the combination of steepness/directional-spread properties that separates modulational-instability breaking from the linear-focusing breaking.

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