Non-Gaussian properties of second-order wave orbital velocity

Alberto Alberello, Amin Chabchoub, Odin Gramstad, Alexander V. Babanin, Alessandro Toffoli

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15 Citations (Scopus)


A stochastic second-order wave model is applied to assess the statistical properties of wave orbital velocity in random sea states below the water surface. Directional spreading effects as well as the dependency of the water depth are investigated by means of a Monte-Carlo approach. Unlike for the surface elevation, sub-harmonics dominate the second-order contribution to orbital velocity. We show that a notable set-down occurs for the most energetic and steepest groups. This engenders a negative skewness in the temporal evolution of the orbital velocity. A substantial deviation of the upper and lower tails of the probability density function from the Gaussian distribution is noticed; velocities are faster below the wave trough and slower below the wave crest when compared with linear theory predictions. Second-order nonlinearity effects strengthen with reducing the water depth, while weaken with the broadening of the wave spectrum. The results are confirmed by laboratory data. Corresponding experiments have been conducted in a large wave basin taking into account the directionality of the wave field. As shown, laboratory data are in very good agreement with the numerical prediction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-49
Number of pages8
JournalCoastal Engineering
Early online date4 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Second-order
  • Wave orbital motion
  • Wave statistics

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