Solitary waves are a class of gravity waves consisting of a single elevation of finite amplitude that, owing to a balance between nonlinearity and dispersion, propagates without change of form. A family of solitary waves, which is termed a “soliton”, forms as the natural consequence of the evolution of a bore – a type of gravity wave (hydraulic jump) generated as a density current (such as cold air from a thunderstorm) intrudes into a fluid of lesser density, which in the case of the atmosphere, occurs beneath a low-level inversion. These phenomena were observed repeatedly by a multitude of ground-based and airborne remote sensing systems during the six-week field phase of the International H20 Project (IHOP) that was centered in the Oklahoma Panhandle, although investigation of bores and solitons was not a primary IHOP objective. Particular emphasis was placed in the current study on the evolving structure of the bores and solitons seen in the observations and high-resolution numerical models, and how this structure related to entrainment and turbulence processes in the bore head and trailing wave train.
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