Simulating Better Breaking Waves

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In the ocean, breaking waves trap air into bubbles that then cluster into foam, but conventional simulations don’t capture this foaminess. For bubbles to cluster into foam, there has to be a force preventing — or at least delaying — their coalescence. Typically, this is caused by impurities in the water that help lower the surface tension and thereby lengthen the bubbles’ lifespans. When these features get added to simulation models, bubbles begin to cluster and breaking waves become foamy. (Image and video credit: P. Karnakov et al.)

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