Surface waves superimposed upon a larger-scale flow are blocked at the points where the group velocities balance the convection by the larger-scale flow. Two types of blockage, capillary and gravity, are investigated by using a new multiple-scale technique, in which the short waves are treated linearly and the underlying larger-scale flows are assumed steady but can have a considerably curved surface and uniform vorticity. The technique first provides a uniformly valid second-order ordinary differential equation, from which a consistent uniform asymptotic solution can readily be obtained by using a treatment suggested by the result of Smith (1975) who described the phenomenon of gravity blockage in an unsteady current with finite depth.
The corresponding WKBJ solution is also derived as a consistent asymptotic expansion of the uniform solution, which is valid at points away from the blockage point. This solution is obviously represented by a linear combination of the incident and reflected waves, and their amplitudes take explicit forms so that it can be shown that even with a significantly varied effective gravity g’ and constant vorticity, wave action will remain conserved for each wave. Furthermore, from the relative amplitudes of the incident and reflected waves, we clearly demonstrate that the action fluxes carried by the two waves towards and away from the blockage point are equal within the present approximation.
The blockage of gravity–capillary waves can occur at the forward slopes of a finite-amplitude dominant wave as suggested by Phillips (1981). The results show that the blocked waves will be reflected as extremely short capillaries and then dissipated rapidly by viscosity. Therefore, for a fixed dominant wave, all wavelets shorter than a limiting wavelength will be suppressed by this process. The minimum wavelengths coexisting with the long waves of various wavelengths and slopes are estimated.