An analytical weakly nonlinear model of Benjamin–Feir instability of a Stokes wave on nonuniform unidirectional current is presented. The model describes evolution of a Stokes wave and its two main sidebands propagating on a slowly-varying steady current. In contrast to the models based on versions of the cubic Schrodinger equation the current variations could be strong, which allows us to examine the blockage and consider substantial variations of the wave numbers and frequencies of interacting waves. Interaction with countercurrent accelerates the growth of sideband modes on a short spatial scale. An increase in initial wave steepness intensifies the wave energy exchange accompanied by wave breaking dissipation, results in asymmetry of sideband modes and a frequency downshift with an energy transfer jump to the lower sideband mode, and depresses the higher sideband and carrier wave. Nonlinear waves may even overpass the blocking barrier produced by strong adverse current. The frequency downshift of the energy peak is permanent and the system does not revert to its initial state. We find reasonable correspondence between the results of model simulations and available experimental results for wave interaction with blocking opposing current.

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