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Phys Rev Lett. 2010 Mar 5;104(9):093901. Epub 2010 Mar 1.

Freak waves in the linear regime: a microwave study.

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Fachbereich Physik der Philipps-Universität Marburg, D-35032 Marburg, Germany.


Microwave transport experiments have been performed in a quasi-two-dimensional resonator with randomly distributed conical scatterers. At high frequencies, the flow shows branching structures similar to those observed in stationary imaging of electron flow. Semiclassical simulations confirm that caustics in the ray dynamics are responsible for these structures. At lower frequencies, large deviations from Rayleigh's law for the wave height distribution are observed, which can only partially be described by existing multiple-scattering theories. In particular, there are "hot spots" with intensities far beyond those expected in a random wave field. The results are analogous to flow patterns observed in the ocean in the presence of spatially varying currents or depth variations in the sea floor, where branches and hot spots lead to an enhanced frequency of freak or rogue wave formation.

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