Description of the interaction of a shallow-water wave with variable topography is a classical and fundamental problem of fluid mechanics. The behaviour of linear waves and isolated solitary waves propagating over an uneven bottom is well understood. Much less is known about the propagation of nonlinear wavetrains over obstacles. For shallow-water waves, the nonlinear wavetrains are often generated in the form of undular bores, connecting two different basic flow states and having the structure of a slowly modulated periodic wave with a solitary wave at the leading edge.
In this thesis, we examine the propagation of shallow-water undular bores over a nonuniform environment, and also subject to the effect of weak dissipation (turbulent bottom friction or volume viscosity). The study is performed in the framework of the variable-coefficient Korteweg-de Vries (vKdV) and variable-coefficient perturbed Korteweg-de Vries (vpKdV) equations. The behaviour of undular bores is compared with that of isolated solitary waves subject to the same external effects. We show that the interaction of the undular bore with variable topography can result in a number of adiabatic and non-adiabatic effects observed in different combinations depending on the specific bottom profile. The effects include: (i) the generation of a sequence of isolated solitons -- an expanding large-amplitude modulated solitary wavetrain propagating ahead of the bore; (ii) the generation of an extended weakly nonlinear wavetrain behind the bore; (iii) the formation of a transient multi-phase region inside the bore; (iv) a nonlocal variation of the leading solitary wave amplitude; (v) the change of the characteristics wavelength in the bore; and (vi) occurrence of a ``modulation phase shift" due to the interaction. The non-adiabatic effects (i) -- (iii) are new and to the best of our knowledge, have not been reported in previous studies. We use a combination of nonlinear modulation theory and numerical simulations to analyse these effects. In our work, we consider four prototypical variable topography profiles in our study: a slowly decreasing depth, a slowly increasing depth , a smooth bump and a smooth hole, which leads to qualitatively different undular bore deformation depending on the geometry of the slope. Also, we consider (numerically) a rapidly varying depth topography, a counterpart of the ``soliton fission" configuration. We show that all the effects mentioned above can also be observed when the undular bore propagates over a rapidly changing bottom .
We then consider the modification of the variable topography effects on the undular bore by considering weak dissipation due to turbulent bottom friction or volume viscosity. The dissipation is modelled by appropriate right-hand side terms in the vKdV equation.
The developed methods and results of our work can be extended to other problems involving the propagation of undular bores (dispersive shock waves in general) in variable media.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.