Asymmetric behavior of surface waves induced by an underlying interfacial wave

Shixiao W. Jiang, Gregor Kovačič, Douglas Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We develop a weakly nonlinear model to study the spatiotemporal manifestation and the dynamical behavior of surface waves in the presence of an underlying interfacial solitary wave in a two-layer fluid system. We show that interfacial solitary-wave solutions of this model can capture the ubiquitous broadening of large-amplitude internal waves in the ocean. In addition, the model is capable of capturing three asymmetric behaviors of surface waves: (i) Surface waves become short in wavelength at the leading edge and long at the trailing edge of an underlying interfacial solitary wave. (ii) Surface waves propagate towards the trailing edge with a relatively small group velocity, and towards the leading edge with a relatively large group velocity. (iii) Surface waves become high in amplitude at the leading edge and low at the trailing edge. These asymmetric behaviors can be well quantified in the theoretical framework of ray-based theories. Our model is relatively easily tractable both theoretically and numerically, thus facilitating the understanding of the surface signature of the observed internal waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1333-1351
Number of pages19
JournalCommunications in Mathematical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019


  • Interfacial waves
  • Ray-based theory
  • Surface waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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