Experimental Evidence of Hydrodynamic Instantons: The Universal Route to Rogue Waves

Giovanni Dematteis, Tobias Grafke, Miguel Onorato, Eric Vanden-Eijnden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A statistical theory of rogue waves is proposed and tested against experimental data collected in a long water tank where random waves with different degrees of nonlinearity are mechanically generated and free to propagate along the flume. Strong evidence is given that the rogue waves observed in the tank are hydrodynamic instantons, that is, saddle point configurations of the action associated with the stochastic model of the wave system. As shown here, these hydrodynamic instantons are complex spatiotemporal wave field configurations which can be defined using the mathematical framework of large deviation theory and calculated via tailored numerical methods. These results indicate that the instantons describe equally well rogue waves created by simple linear superposition (in weakly nonlinear conditions) or by nonlinear focusing (in strongly nonlinear conditions), paving the way for the development of a unified explanation to rogue wave formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number041057
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 18 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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