Reliable design and reanalysis of coastal and offshore structures requires, amongst other things, characterisation of extreme crest elevation corresponding to long return periods, and of the evolution of a wave in space and time conditional on an extreme crest.

Extreme crests typically correspond to focussed wave events enhanced by wave-wave interactions of different orders. Higher-order spectral analysis can be used to identify wave-wave interactions in time-series of water surface elevation.

The bispectrum and its normalised form (the bicoherence) have been reported by numerous authors as a means to characterise three-wave interactions in laboratory, field and simulation experiments. The bispectrum corresponds to a frequency-domain representation of the third order cumulant of the time-series, and can be thought of as an extension of the power spectrum (itself the frequency-domain representation of the second order cumulant). The power spectrum and bispectrum can both be expressed in terms of the Fourier transforms of the original time-series. The Fast Fourier transform (FFT) therefore provides an efficient means of estimation. However, there are a number of important practical considerations to ensuring reasonable estimation.

To detect four-wave interactions, we need to consider the trispectrum and its normalised form (the tricoherence). The trispectrum corresponds to a frequency-domain (Fourier) representation of the fourth-order cumulant of the time-series. Four-wave interactions between Fourier components can involve interactions of the type where f1 + f2 + f3 = f4 and where f1 + f2 = f3 + f4, resulting in two definitions of the trispectrum, depending on which of the two interactions is of interest. We consider both definitions in this paper. Both definitions can be estimated using the FFT, but it’s estimation is considerably more challenging than estimation of the bispectrum. Again, there are important practicalities to bear in mind.

In this work, we consider the key practical steps required to correctly estimate the trispectrum and tricoherence. We demonstrate the usefulness of the trispectrum and tricoherence for identifying wave-wave interactions in synthetic (based on combinations of sinusoids and on the HOS model) and measured wave time-series.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.