The theoretical formulation of second-order random waves in deep and finite water is reviewed. In particular, the increased nonlinear interactions with decreasing depth are addressed, including both the sum-frequency as well as the slowly varying difference-frequency components. Depth-defined limitations in the valid range for random waves are suggested based on the Ursell number. Numerical time series realizations at various depths and for two sea states are obtained by an efficient bifrequency summation procedure. Resulting time series show moderate average second-order energy contents, except for the steep sea state Hs = 15m, Tp = 14s in depths of 30m and 20m which are outside the suggested valid second-order range. The two largest wave events from the simulations are studied in particular for the different depths. Nonlinear interactions increase significantly with decreasing depth. Still, within the valid range, extreme second-order crests and peak particle velocities are only moderately increased with decreasing depth, while the negative peaks increase significantly. This is because the difference-frequency component almost compensates for the sum-frequency part at crests, while it is opposite at troughs. Maximum slopes, however, are clearly increased in shallow water, eventually leading to increased breaking (which is beyond second order of course). Velocity profiles under the crests are also shown, confirming the findings from the elevation.

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