One-dimensional wave turbulence

Vladimir Zakharov, Frédéric Dias, Andrei Pushkarev

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


The problem of turbulence is one of the central problems in theoretical physics. While the theory of fully developed turbulence has been widely studied, the theory of wave turbulence has been less studied, partly because it developed later. Wave turbulence takes place in physical systems of nonlinear dispersive waves. In most applications nonlinearity is small and dispersive wave interactions are weak. The weak turbulence theory is a method for a statistical description of weakly nonlinear interacting waves with random phases. It is not surprising that the theory of weak wave turbulence began to develop in connection with some problems of plasma physics as well as of wind waves. The present review is restricted to one-dimensional wave turbulence, essentially because finer computational grids can be used in numerical computations. Most of the review is devoted to wave turbulence in various wave equations, and in particular in a simple one-dimensional model of wave turbulence introduced by Majda, McLaughlin and Tabak in 1997. All the considered equations are model equations, but consequences on physical systems such as ocean waves are discussed as well. The main conclusion is that the range in which the theory of pure weak turbulence is valid is narrow. In general, wave turbulence is not completely weak. Together with the weak turbulence component, it can include coherent structures, such as solitons, quasisolitons, collapses or broad collapses. As a result, weak and strong turbulence coexist. In situations where coherent structures cannot develop, weak turbulence dominates. Even though this is primarily a review paper, new results are presented as well, especially on self-organized criticality and on quasisolitonic turbulence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-65
Number of pages65
JournalPhysics Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Dispersive waves
  • Hamiltonian systems
  • Quasisolitons
  • Solitons
  • Wave collapse
  • Weak turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'One-dimensional wave turbulence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this