Analysis of laboratory and field measurements of directionally spread nonlinear ocean waves
McAllister, Mark Laing
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Surface gravity waves exist in the oceans as multi-directional nonlinear phenomena. Understanding how these two properties interact is intrinsically important in itself. Furthermore, an understanding of this relationship may be used to gain insight into other oceanic phenomena. This thesis first describes an experimental investigation into the relationship between directionality and non-linearity (Part I). This relationship was then used as a tool to estimate the directional spreading of field data (Part II). Experiments have been conducted in which directionally spread focused wave groups were created in a wave tank. The relationship between the degree of directional spreading and the second-order bound harmonics of the wave groups was examined, in particular the formation of a `set-up'. These measurements were then compared to predictions from second-order theories, finding good agreement. The two-dimensional structure of the bound waves was explored giving new insight into the underlying physics. Experiments were then carried out for directionally spread crossing wave groups. It is believed that the crossing of two sufficiently separated wave groups may be the cause of an anomalous set-up in the second-order bound waves observed for some extreme and potentially freak waves. This set-up is reproduced experimentally. Again, the results of these test agreed very well when compared to second-order theory. The insight gained from the foregoing experiments was then utilised in the analysis of field data. A method, which requires only a single measurement to estimate the observed degree of directional spreading, was applied to a large dataset of field measurements from the North Alwyn platform in the North Sea. This method was then compared to conventional approaches, which require multiple concurrent measurements. The method that requires only a single measurement was shown to be effective, and presents a promising approach to gaining additional insight about the directional spreading of point observations.