Lagrangian-Eulerian dynamics of breaking shallow water waves through tracer tracking of fluid elements

Ue Yu Pen, Mei Chu Chang, L. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We experimentally investigate the Lagrangian-Eulerian dynamics of fluid motion and wave-form evolution for a breaking shallow water wave approaching a slope by tracking tracer motions. It is found that, before breaking, the surface element can climb over the crest and exhibits cyclic oscillation with small forward drift. The increasing asymmetric tangential compression (accumulation) and rarefaction (depletion) in the crest front and the crest are the keys for the crest front steepening with the increasing particle cyclic excursion and forward Stoke drift. Eventually, the surface layer cannot climb over the crest with the vertical front. It curls up and forms an overhanging plunging jet leading the crest, while the lower flow still can reach the crest rear. This process leads to wave breaking with the rapid drop of crest height and the transition from slow divergence to rapid divergence of the adjacent fluid trajectories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023017
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 25 Feb 2013


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