I give a description of nonlinear water wave dynamics using a recently discovered tool of mathematical physics I call nonlinear Fourier analysis (NLFA). This method is based upon and is an application of a theorem due to Baker [1897, 1907] and Mumford [1984] in the field of algebraic geometry and from additional sources by the author [Osborne, 2010, 2018, 2019]. The theory begins with the Kadomtsev-Petviashvili (KP) equation, a two dimensional generalization of the Korteweg-deVries (KdV) equation: Here the NLFA method is derived from the complete integrability of the equation by finite gap theory or the inverse scattering transform for periodic/quasiperiodic boundary conditions. I first show, for a one-dimensional, plane wave solution, that the KP equation can be rotated to a solution of the KdV equation, where the coefficients of KdV are now functions of the rotation angle. I then show how the rotated KdV equation can be used to compute the spectral solutions of the KP equation itself. Finally, I write the spectral solutions of the KP equation as a finite gap solution in terms of Riemann theta functions. By virtue of the fact that I am able to write a theta function formulation of the KP equation, it is clear that the wave dynamics lie on tori and constitute parallel dynamics on the tori in the integrable cases and non-parallel dynamics on the tori for certain perturbed quasi-integrable cases. Therefore, we are dealing with a Kolmogorov-Arnold-Moser KAM theory for nonlinear partial differential wave equations. The nonlinear Fourier series have particular nonlinear Fourier modes, including: sine waves, Stokes waves and solitons. Indeed the theoretical formulation I have developed is a kind of exact two-dimensional “coherent wave turbulence” or “integrable wave turbulence” for the KP equation, for which the Stokes waves and solitons are the coherent structures. I discuss how NLFA provides a number of new tools that apply to a wide range of problems in offshore engineering and coastal dynamics: This includes nonlinear Fourier space and time series analysis, nonlinear Fourier wave field analysis, a nonlinear random phase approximation, the study of nonlinear coherent functions and nonlinear bi and tri spectral analysis.

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