Minimal model for tidal bore revisited

M. V. Berry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
245 Downloads (Pure)


This develops a recent analysis of gentle undular tidal bores (2018 New J. Phys. 20 053066) and corrects an error. The simplest linear-wave superposition, of monochromatic waves propagating according to the shallow-water dispersion relation, leads to a family of profiles satisfying natural tidal bore boundary conditions, involving initial smoothed steps with different shapes. These profiles can be uniformly approximated to high accuracy in terms of the integral of an Airy function with deformed argument. For the long times corresponding to realistic bores, the profiles condense asymptotically onto the previously obtained integral-Airy function with linear argument: As the bore propagates, it forgets the shape of the initial step. The integral-Airy profile expands slowly, as the cube root of time, rather than advancing rigidly. This 'minimal model' leads to simple formulas for the main properties of the profile: Amplitude, maximum slope, 'wavelength', and steepness; and an assumption about energy loss suggests how the bore weakens as it propagates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number073021
Number of pages10
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Early online date19 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019


  • Airy function
  • Asymptotic
  • Caustic
  • Hamiltonian
  • Nonlinearity
  • Wave


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