Arthur T. Ippen, Gershon Kulin


The solitary wave is ordinarily defined as a single disturbance of the water surface, which is relatively concentrated and symmetrical and which is propagated, neglecting damping, without change of form. Although it can be readily produced in the laboratory, in what appears to the observer a pure form, its existence (first noted in the field by J. Scott Russell (1) in 183U) as a wave of permanent shape has not yet been established by rigorous mathematical methods. This wave has been the subject of intermittent theoretical and experimental investigation since the days of Russell. In more recent years, additional attention has been given to the solitary wave, since it seemed to exhibit characteristics related to those of long-period oscillatory waves approaching the surf zone. In this connection, an experimental program for the precise measurement of the characteristics of the solitary wave was undertaken at the Hydrodynamics Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The results of the first phase of this work, including celerity, profile, internal motion and smooth-bottom damping, were reported by J. W. Daily and S. C. Stephan, Jr., to the Third Conference on Coastal Engineering in 1952 (2). The present paper is concerned principally with the results of an experimental study of the shoaling and breaking behavior of solitary waves.


solitary waves; shoaling; wave breaking

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