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A Global Theory of Internal Solitary Waves in Two-Fluid Systems.

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The study of single-crested progressing gravity waves was initiated over a century ago with the observations by Russell of what he termed solitary waves, which progressed without change of form over a considerable distance on the Glasgow-Edinburgh Canal. The mathematical analysis of this wave motion on the surface of water, begun in the nineteenth century, has undergone a rapid development in the last three decades, due to the scattering theory for the Korteweg-de Vries equation, which models the motion of long waves due to the development of techniques in nonlinear analysis allowing for the analysis of finite amplitude motions. The work on surfce waves has many parallels in the study of waves in fluids with variable density. In the case of a heterogeneous fluid with a free upper surface, gravity waves still occur, in analogy with surface waves in a fluid of constant density. What is distinctive about a fluid with density stratification, however, is the presence of waves which are predominantly due to the stratification and not to the free surface. These waves, called internal waves, exist in a heterogeneous fluid even when it is confined between horizontal boundaries, a configuration which precludes gravity waves in a fluid of constant density. This paper is concerned with progressing solitary gravity waves in a system consisting of two fluids of differing densities confined in a channel of unit depth and infinite horizontal extent.

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  • Physical and Dynamic Oceanography
  • Numerical Mathematics

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