Extreme waves occur as an emergent phenomenon in many natural systems. These unusually large concentrations of energy coalesce from smaller adjacent perturbations. This energy focusing effect, which has been observed in ocean waves, fiber optic systems, and microwave systems, is not well understood and has not been investigated through massively parallel computations. With this in mind, the overall goal of this multi-disciplinary team of researchers is to pioneer an integrated approach to computationally model extreme waves through Eulerian and Lagrangian formulations, use CUDA based large-scale computations as a means to obtain an enhanced understanding of energy focusing associated with the natural and complex phenomenon of extreme waves, and exploit the insights and knowledge gained for forecasting such conditions for the first time. The proposed four-year effort is to be carried out by a team comprised of researchers from mechanical engineering, applied mathematics and scientific computation, atmospheric and ocean sciences, and astrophysics. This team will pursue a novel integrated approach to create a computational platform, advance GPU-based simulations, and use computational thinking to derive fundamental insights into the complexity of extreme wave conditions. This understanding can help in facilitating energy focusing and taking advantage of it for energy harnessing. Specific outcomes are expected to include different computational models tailored for studies of full field extreme waves, including Lagrangian based N-particle computational models and grid based Navier-Stokes formulations. Instability tests based on the breeding method, which have been developed for atmospheric and ocean modeling studies, will be used for the first time to identify characteristics of instability growth in ocean wave interactions and forecast them.
The proposed work has multiple global economic, security, and scientific applications and shares many of the values of the Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation program. A large number of broader impacts are conceivable given the wide ranging and multi-disciplinary influences of wave energy concentration. The potential to create sub-specialties and entirely new fields of energy transport optimization demonstrate the important science these emergent phenomena can reveal. The identification of precursors and modeling of extreme wave events can afford wide ranging benefits to many fronts including commercial shipping, naval missions, offshore energy harnessing, fiber optic communications, and galaxy formation and other astrophysical phenomena. Apart from integration of research findings into the undergraduate and graduate course offerings across departments, a new cross-disciplinary undergraduate elective on computational dynamics will be created and offered to enable discovery based learning. Along with a post-doctoral scholar, three graduate students will directly get a unique opportunity to work on convergence research and develop computational thinking through a robust cross-disciplinary education. Local high-school students are also expected to benefit through simulation based research practicum to be pursued at the University of Maryland. Art-in-science displays on solitons and other wave phenomena will be used to stimulate and nurture the interests of K-12 students who visit campus for different events including the annually held Maryland Day on campus.