Natural Hazards

, Volume 84, Supplement 2, pp 471–492 | Cite as

Observations of meteotsunami on the Louisiana shelf: a lone soliton with a soliton pack

  • Alex Sheremet
  • Uriah Gravois
  • Victor Shrira
Original Paper


The paper reports unique high-resolution observations of meteotsunami by a large array of oceanographic instruments deployed on the Atchafalaya Shelf (Louisiana, USA) in 2008 with the primary aim to study wave dissipation in muddy environments. The meteotsunami event on March 7, 2008, was caused by the passage of a cold front which was monitored by the NOAA NEXRAD radar. The observations of water surface elevations on the shelf show a highly detailed textbook picture of an undular bore (solibore) in the process of its disintegration into a train of solitons. The picture has a striking feature never reported before not only for the meteotsunamis but in other contexts of disintegration of a long-wave perturbation into a sequence of solitons as well—the persistent presence of a single soliton, well ahead of the solibore. Data analysis and simulations based on the celebrated variable-coefficient KdV (vKdV) equation first proposed by Ostrovsky and Pelinovsky (Izv Atmos Ocean Phys 11:37–41, 1975) explain the physics of this phenomenon and suggest that the formation of the lone soliton ahead of the solibore is very likely to be the result of the specific interplay of natural meteotsunami forcing and nearshore bathymetry. The analysis strongly suggests that the patterns of coexisting lone solitons and packets of cnoidal waves should be quite common for meteotsunamis. They were not observed before only because of the scarcity of high-resolution observations. The results highlight the effectiveness of the vKdV equation in providing understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of the complex natural phenomenon that would otherwise require computationally very expensive numerical models.


Meteotsunami Lone soliton Undular bore Variable-coefficient Korteweg–de Vries equation 



This research was supported by Office of Naval Research Grants N00014-13-1-0620 and NSF Grant CMMI-1208147 “Interaction of Tsunamis with Short Waves and Bottom Sediment - Numerical and Physical Modeling.” The experimental work was funded by Office of Naval Research Grants N00014-10-1-0363, N00014-10-1-0805, and N00014-11-1-0269. The authors are grateful for the thoughtful advice and suggestions provided by two anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Engineering School For Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment (ESSIE)University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.School of Computing and MathematicsKeele UniversityKeeleUK

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