Universality of sea wave growth and its physical roots

Vladimir E. Zakharov, Sergei I. Badulin, Paul A. Hwang, Guillemette Caulliez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Assuming resonant nonlinear wave interactions to be the dominant physical mechanism of growing wind-driven seas we propose a concise relationship between instantaneous wave steepness and time or fetch of wave development expressed in dimensionless wave periods or lengths. This asymptotic physical law derived from the first principles of the theory of weak turbulence does not contain wind speed explicitly. The validity of this law is illustrated by results of numerical simulations, in situ measurements of growing wind seas and wind-wave tank observations. The impact of this new view of sea-wave physics is discussed in the context of conventional approaches to wave modelling and forecasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-535
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Sep 7 2015


  • air/sea interactions
  • surface gravity waves
  • wind-wave interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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