Unlocking the Mystery of Breaking Waves: Engineers Use AI to Capture Complex Wave Dynamics

Engineers use artificial Intelligence to capture the complexity and breaking waves

Once the waves reach a certain height, they break. They then crash into a spray or droplets. The waves can be large enough to break a surfer’s point or as small as an ocean ripple. The dynamics of how a wave breaks and the timing were too complex for decades to predict.

MIT engineers now have a new model for how waves break. The team tweaked equations traditionally used to predict the behavior of waves using machine learning and data from experiments in wave tanks. These equations are often used by engineers to design offshore structures and platforms that are resilient. The equations were not able to capture breaking waves’ complexity until now.

Researchers found that the updated model was more accurate in predicting how and when waves would break. The model, for example, estimated the wave’s energy and frequency just after breaking and its steepness before breaking more accurately than conventional wave equations.


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