MULTIWAVE is an interdisciplinary project at the frontiers of mathematics, physics and engineering which will explore important open questions in nonlinear wave propagation and the emergence of extreme events. The work necessitates a Co-Investigator approach in order to carry out coordinated analytical, numerical and experimental studies of the nonlinear effects that form the subject of the proposal. The project builds on recent international developments in the field of nonlinear waves led by the co-investigators that have shown how analogies between optical systems and the deep ocean provide new insights into the generation of the infamous hydrodynamic rogue waves on the ocean. These results, which have led to the first experimental confirmation in 2010 of analytic predictions of hydrodynamics that have remained untested for 25 years, have now opened up the possibility for an optical system to directly study the dynamics and statistics of extreme nonlinear wave shaping. This is a tremendous advance comparable to the introduction of optical systems to study chaos in the 1970s, and the co-investigators aim to be at the forefront of this research effort. Core theoretical elements in the project will uncover the fundamental mechanisms underlying the emergence of large scale coherent structures from a turbulent environment, and resolve basic questions of energy transport in the presence of nonlinearity. These analytical studies will be complemented by numerical simulations and laboratory experiments in optical systems. Specifically, recent advances in optical technology will enable the benchtop development of an “optical wave tank” that will accurately simulate multiple propagation scenarios in hydrodynamics and ocean systems. Emphasis will be placed on extreme rogue wave events which are difficult or even impossible to study quantitatively in their natural oceanic environment.
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