Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 52, Issue 5, pp 1319–1330 | Cite as

Turbulence beneath finite amplitude water waves

Research Article


Babanin and Haus (J Phys Oceanogr 39:2675–2679, 2009) recently presented evidence of near-surface turbulence generated below steep non-breaking deep-water waves. They proposed a threshold wave parameter a 2ω/ν = 3,000 for the spontaneous occurrence of turbulence beneath surface waves. This is in contrast to conventional understanding that irrotational wave theories provide a good approximation of non-wind-forced wave behaviour as validated by classical experiments. Many laboratory wave experiments were carried out in the early 1960s (e.g. Wiegel 1964). In those experiments, no evidence of turbulence was reported, and steep waves behaved as predicted by the high-order irrotational wave theories within the accuracy of the theories and experimental techniques at the time. This contribution describes flow visualisation experiments for steep non-breaking waves using conventional dye techniques in the wave boundary layer extending above the wave trough level. The measurements showed no evidence of turbulent mixing up to a value of a 2ω/ν = 7,000 at which breaking commenced in these experiments. These present findings are in accord with the conventional understandings of wave behaviour.


Particle Image Velocimetry Wave Height Velocity Spectrum Steep Wave Wave Tank 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Escuela de Ingeniería Civil Oceánica, Facultad de IngenieríaUniversidad de ValparaísoValparaísoChile
  2. 2.Water Research Laboratory, School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.School of Mathematics and StatisticsThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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