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Book review: Selected papers of J.M. Burgers / ed. by F.T.M. Nieuwstadt and J.A. Steketee. - Kluwer, 1995. 650 pp. ISBN 0-7923-3265-2.

Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
  • Earth Science


Journal of Fluid Mechanics 307: REVIEWS 376 Reviews topics can be treated thoroughly in the space available, so a newcomer to these subjects will find the book tough reading; even an expert can find sections which are too concise. However, there are many references to the primary literature, making this book a valuable guide. For many of the basic topics I have the impression that someone with a theoretical physics background would find the presentation easier to read than would a fluid mechanician. It is a good feature of this book that the many fixes that are necessary where we have insufficient understanding of the basic phenomena are not hidden and the need for more study is clearly pointed out. Nowhere is this need for more study more evident than in the dominant feature of rough seas : wave breaking. I marvel at the relative success of this wave modelling when this difficult feature, which is so important in wave dissipation, has to be taken into account. The major omission from this account of ocean waves is also in the area of wave breaking. From experiments by Banner and his collaborators it is clear that especially high momentum transfer to waves from wind can occur when they are breaking. Strangely enough it is in the same breaking events that there is substantial momentum transfer from waves to currents. Yet there is no discussion of this wave generation process, which could be overwhelmingly dominant in storms. Perhaps with the authors’ viewpoint this is understandable, since we are only at the beginning of quantified measurements of wave breaking in the laboratory, let alone in the ocean, and the essence of this book is how to produce quantified wave forecasts. The difficulties in making such forecasts do not end once the physics is reduced to equations and parameters. Two-thirds of the book is about other, sometimes troublesome, aspects. Even if you believe the best meteorological models, and this book indicates where you shouldn’t, the num

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