Weakly nonlinear internal waves in a two-fluid system

Wooyoung Choi, Roberto Camassa

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138 Scopus citations


We derive general evolution equations for two-dimensional weakly nonlinear waves at the free surface in a system of two fluids of different densities. The thickness of the upper fluid layer is assumed to be small compared with the characteristic wavelength, but no restrictions are imposed on the thickness of the lower layer. We consider the case of a free upper boundary for its relevance in applications to ocean dynamics problems and the case of a non-uniform rigid upper boundary for applications to atmospheric problems. For the special case of shallow water, the new set of equations reduces to the Boussinesq equations for two-dimensional internal waves, whilst, for great and infinite lower-layer depth, we can recover the well-known Intermediate Long Wave and Benjamin-Ono models, respectively, for one-dimensional uni-directional wave propagation. Some numerical solutions of the model for one-dimensional waves in deep water are presented and compared with the known solutions of the uni-directional model. Finally, the effects of finite-amplitude slowly varying bottom topography are included in a model appropriate to the situation when the dependence on one of the horizontal coordinates is weak.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-103
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Apr 25 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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