Ordering of two small parameters in the shallow water wave problem

Georgy I. Burde, Artur Sergyeyev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The classical problem of irrotational long waves on the surface of a shallow layer of an ideal fluid moving under the influence of gravity as well as surface tension is considered. A systematic procedure for deriving an equation for surface elevation for a prescribed relation between the orders of the two expansion parameters, the amplitude parameter α and the long wavelength (or shallowness) parameter β, is developed. Unlike the heuristic approaches found in the literature, when modifications are made in the equation for surface elevation itself, the procedure starts from the consistently truncated asymptotic expansions for unidirectional waves, a counterpart of the Boussinesq system of equations for the surface elevation and the bottom velocity, from which the leading-order and higher order equations for the surface elevation can be obtained by iterations. The relations between the orders of the two small parameters are taken in the form β = O(αn) and α = O(βm) with n and m specified to some important particular cases. The analysis shows, in particular, that some evolution equations, proposed before as model equations in other physical contexts (such as the Gardner equation, the modified Korteweg-de Vries (KdV) equation and the so-called fifth-order KdV equation), can emerge as the leading-order equations in the asymptotic expansion for the unidirectional water waves, on equal footing with the KdV equation. The results related to the higher orders of approximation provide a set of consistent higher order model equations for unidirectional water waves which replace the KdV equation with higher order corrections in the case of non-standard ordering when the parameters α and β are not of the same order of magnitude. The shortcomings of certain models used in the literature become apparent as a result of the subsequent analysis. It is also shown that various model equations obtained by assuming a prescribed relation β = O(αn) between the orders of the two small parameters can be equivalently treated as obtained by applying transformations of variables which scale out the parameter β, in favor of α. It allows us to consider the nonlinearity-dispersion balance, epitomized by the soliton equations, as existing for any β, provided that α → 0, but leads to a prescription, in asymptotic terms, of the region of time and space where the equations are valid and so the corresponding dynamics are expected to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Article number075501
JournalJournal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Issue number7
StatePublished - 22 Feb 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mathematical Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Ordering of two small parameters in the shallow water wave problem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this