Dimensional analysis and weak turbulence

Colm Connaughton, Sergey Nazarenko, Alan C. Newell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


In the study of weakly turbulent wave systems possessing incomplete self-similarity, it is possible to use dimensional arguments to derive the scaling exponents of the Kolmogorov-Zakharov spectra, provided the order of the resonant wave interactions responsible for nonlinear energy transfer is known. Furthermore, one can easily derive conditions for the breakdown of the weak turbulence approximation. It is found that for incompletely self-similar systems dominated by three wave interactions, the weak turbulence approximation usually cannot break down at small scales. It follows that such systems cannot exhibit small scale intermittency. For systems dominated by four wave interactions, the incomplete self-similarity property implies that the scaling of the interaction coefficient depends only on the physical dimension of the system. These results are used to build a complete picture of the scaling properties of the surface wave problem where both gravity and surface tension play a role. We argue that, for large values of the energy flux, there should be two weakly turbulent scaling regions matched together via a region of strongly nonlinear turbulence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-97
Number of pages12
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003


  • Dimensional analysis
  • Incomplete self-similarity
  • Weak turbulence approximation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


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