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Benjamin-Feir Instability of Stokes Waves in Finite Depth

TitleBenjamin-Feir Instability of Stokes Waves in Finite Depth
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsBerti, M, Maspero, A, Ventura, P
Date PublishedOCT
Type of ArticleArticle

Whitham and Benjamin predicted in 1967 that small-amplitude periodic traveling Stokes waves of the 2d-gravity water waves equations are linearly unstable with respect to long-wave perturbations, if the depth h is larger than a critical threshold h(WB) approximate to 1.363. In this paper, we completely describe, for any finite value of h > 0, the four eigenvalues close to zero of the linearized equations at the Stokes wave, as the Floquet exponent mu is turned on. We prove, in particular, the existence of a unique depth h(WB), which coincides with the one predicted by Whitham and Benjamin, such that, for any 0 < h < h(WB), the eigenvalues close to zero are purely imaginary and, for any h > h(WB), a pair of non-purely imaginary eigenvalues depicts a closed figure ``8'', parameterized by the Floquet exponent. As h -> h(WB)(+) the ``8'' collapses to the origin of the complex plane. The complete bifurcation diagram of the spectrum is not deduced as in deep water, since the limits h -> +infinity (deep water) and mu -> 0 (long waves) do not commute. In finite depth, the four eigenvalues have all the same size O(mu), unlike in deep water, and the analysis of their splitting is much more delicate, requiring, as a new ingredient, a non-perturbative step of block-diagonalization. Along the whole proof, the explicit dependence of the matrix entries with respect to the depth h is carefully tracked.


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