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Action of an adverse current on the shape of deep water surface waves

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It is well established that the shape of surface waves changes when waves meet a current. The effect of an adverse current is particularly interesting from a practical point of view.

A visualization method is used to study the shape change when waves meet such a current, in a large scale laboratory flume. The corresponding observations and measurements are presented in this paper.

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C 0 :

theoretical phase velocity

E p :

potential energy of the wave/L, along 1 m of crest

H :

total wave height

h 0 :

water depth

k :

wave number

L :


n :

apparent radian frequency

N :

wavemaker frequency

s :

wave steepness (s=H/L)

U :

horizontal velocity of pure current

U m :

mean value of the current over depth

z :

vertical distance from the bottom

δ :

rear crest steepness

ɛ :

front crest steepness

λ :

vertical asymmetry factor, describing the asymmetry with respect to a vertical axis through the crest

σ :

intrinsec frequency

μ :

horizontal asymmetry factor describing the asymmetry with respect to an horizontal axis (the still water level).μ is the ratio between the crest elevation above the still water level, and the wave height


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Correspondence to P. Bonmarin.

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Bonmarin, P., Bartholin, F. & Ramamonjiarisoa, A. Action of an adverse current on the shape of deep water surface waves. Experiments in Fluids 18, 438–444 (1995).

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  • Water Surface
  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Surface Wave
  • Deep Water
  • Shape Change