Why break waves?

New findings on energy loss presented

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Wind waves generated by wind are among the most complex research topics for physicists. Australian scientists have now for the first time analyzed the energy loss that occurs when waves break.


For Alexander Babanin of the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure at Swinburne University in Australia and Professor Ian Young, the current study is part of their extensive study of the three main processes in the evolution of a wave - the actual wave generation by the wind, the interaction of the waves among each other as well as the energy dissipation, which becomes visible through the breaking of the wave. The dissipation prevents waves from growing to infinity.

Due to the lack of physical insights, connections between dissipation and wave breaking have so far only been incorporated in speculative form into predictive models for waves. "It was important for us to find out why waves break, " said Babanin.

Phenomenon wave

Even though wind hardly gives impulses to larger waves, it builds up smaller waves, which then pass on their energy to them when superposed with larger waves. This energy is lost when the wave breaks. "It takes thousands and thousands of cycles or cycles to build up the energy, but it all disappears in a fraction of a period. This is a phenomenon, "Babanin explains the fascination of waves. display

For the first time, scientists at Swinburne University conducted direct measurements of the spectral distribution of wave dissipation. As a result, a number of characteristics were uncovered, which were previously not taken into account. Based on these findings, a dissipation term is developed and implemented in wave models.

(idw - Australian-New Zealand University Association / Institute Ranke-Heinemann, 20.09.2007 - DLO)