Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Onorato M., Osborne A., Serio M., Cavaleri L., Brandini C., Stansberg C. Observation of strongly non-Gaussian statistics for random sea surface gravity waves in wave flume experiments. In: Physical Review E, vol. 70 (6) article n. 67302. American Physical Soc, 2004.
We study random surface gravity wave fields and address the formation of large-amplitude waves in a laboratory environment. Experiments are performed in one of the largest wave tank facilities in the world. We present experimental evidence that the tail of the probability density function for wave height strongly depends on the Benjamin-Feir index (BFI)-i.e., the ratio between wave steepness and spectral bandwidth. While for a small BFI the probability density functions obtained experimentally are consistent with the Rayleigh distribution, for a large BFI the Rayleigh distribution clearly underestimates the probability of large events. These results confirm experimentally the fact that large-amplitude waves in random spectra may result from the modulational instability.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.70.067302
Subject freak-waves

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