The principal stage in wind-wave generation

Tianyi Li, Lian Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The dynamics of wind-generated water waves in the principal stage of the Phillips theory (Phillips, J. Fluid Mech., vol. 2, 1957, pp. 417 - 445) is investigated by a combined numerical and analytical approach. We perform a number of high-resolution direct numerical simulation (DNS) of turbulent wind over initially calm water to capture the multistage generation of water waves. Detailed analyses are conducted to evaluate the Phillips theory in both physical space and wavenumber space. Numerical evidence is obtained for the existence of a principal stage when the surface elevation variance grows linearly with time. We further propose a random sweeping turbulence pressure - wave interaction model by introducing the random sweeping hypothesis of air pressure fluctuations to the Phillips theory, and obtain an asymptotic solution of the mean square of surface wave elevations over time. This asymptotic analysis captures the temporal oscillations of surface elevation variance in the principal stage, which is also confirmed by our DNS results. The wavenumber spectrum of surface wave elevations is analysed using a time-dependent norm to elucidate the role of the resonance mechanism on wave generation. In physical space, we use the random sweeping turbulence pressure - wave interaction model to obtain a quantitative prediction of the growth rate of surface elevation variance in the principal stage, which is found to agree with the DNS results better than the original Phillips model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA41
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Mar 10 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. L.S. gratefully acknowledges the continuous support of the Office of Naval Research on this profound research topic of great significance in basic research.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • Gas/liquid flow
  • Wave-turbulence interactions
  • Wind-wave interactions


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