Spilling breakers receive much less attention from casual observers of the ocean surface than their more dramatic and powerful plunging counterparts. However, spilling breakers probably occur more frequently than plunging breakers and are important contributors to turbulence, spray, and bubble generation at the water surface. Recent research has concentrated primarily on relatively weak and/or short-wavelength spillers whose crests are strongly affected by surface tension forces both during wave steepening and the resulting turbulent free-surface flow. When surface tension forces are dominant, the free surface does not overturn or splash during the breaking process but undergoes some unique and interesting motions. In this review, recent research contributions are discussed and placed in the context of spilling behavior over a wide range of wavelengths and breaking intensities.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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