Applied Math Colloquium

Friday, October 4th, 2013, 11:30 AM
Cullimore Lecture Hall, Lecture Hall II
New Jersey Institute of Technology


Traveling-Standing Water Waves and Microseisms

Jon Wilkening


University of California, Berkeley



We study a two-parameter family of solutions of the surface Euler equations in which solutions return to a spatial translation of their initial condition at a later time. Pure standing waves and pure traveling waves emerge as special cases at fixed values of one of the parameters. Resonant effects cause many disconnections in the bifurcation curves at large amplitude. Some of these resonant disconnections persist all the way to zero-amplitude. We find many examples of wave crests that nearly sharpen to a corner, with corner angles close to 120 degrees near the traveling wave of greatest height, and close to 90 degrees for large-amplitude pure standing waves. However, aside from the traveling case, we do not believe any of these solutions approach a limiting extreme wave that forms a perfect corner.

We also compute nonlinear wave packets, or breathers, which can take the form of NLS-type solitary waves or counterpropagating wave trains of nearly equal wavelength. The main challenge in the former case is resolving algebraically decaying tails. In the latter case, an interesting phenomenon occurs in which the pressure develops a large DC component that varies in time but not space, or at least varies slowly in space compared to the wavelength of the surface waves. These large-scale pressure zones can move very rapidly since they travel at the envelope speed, and may be partially responsible for microseisms, the background noise observed in earthquake seismographs.