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Rectification of a deep water model for surface gravity waves

Vincent Duchêne and Benjamin Melinand

Vol. 6 (2024), No. 1, 73–128
DOI: 10.2140/paa.2024.6.73

We discuss an approximate model for the propagation of deep irrotational water waves, specifically the model obtained by keeping only quadratic nonlinearities in the water waves system under the Zakharov/Craig–Sulem formulation. We argue that the initial-value problem associated with this system is most likely ill-posed in finite regularity spaces, and that it explains the observation of spurious amplification of high-wavenumber modes in numerical simulations that were reported in the literature. This hypothesis has already been proposed by Ambrose, Bona, and Nicholls (2014) but we identify a different instability mechanism. On the basis of this analysis, we show that the system can be “rectified”. Indeed, by introducing appropriate regularizing operators, we can restore the well-posedness without sacrificing other desirable features such as a canonical Hamiltonian structure, cubic accuracy as an asymptotic model, and efficient numerical integration. This provides a first rigorous justification for the common practice of applying filters in high-order spectral methods for the numerical approximation of surface gravity waves. While our study is restricted to a quadratic model, we believe it can be generalized to any order and paves the way towards the rigorous justification of a robust and efficient strategy to approximate water waves with arbitrary accuracy. Our study is supported by detailed and reproducible numerical simulations.

deep water, instability mechanism, spectral methods
Mathematical Subject Classification
Primary: 35G25, 35R25, 76B07
Secondary: 65M30, 76M22
Received: 5 July 2022
Revised: 23 August 2023
Accepted: 6 December 2023
Published: 22 February 2024
Vincent Duchêne
Université de Rennes
Benjamin Melinand
Université Paris Dauphine
Université PSL