A numerical study of the initial stages of wave breaking processes in shallow water is presented. The waves considered are assumed to be generated by moving a piston in a two-dimensional channel, and may appear, for example, in the injection chamber of a high-pressure die casting machine under operating conditions far from the optimal. A numerical model based on a finite-difference discretization of the Navier-Stokes equations in a Cartesian grid and a second-order approximate projection method has been developed and used to carry out the simulations. The evolution of the free surface is described using a level set method, with a reinitialization procedure of the level set function which uses a local grid refinement near the free surface. The ability of different algorithms to improve mass conservation in the reinitialization step of the level set function has been tested in a time-reversed single vortex flow. The results for the breaking wave profiles show the flow characteristics after the impact of the first plunging jet onto the wave’s forward face and during the subsequent splash-up.

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