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A gauge theory for shallow water

David Tong

SciPost Phys. 14, 102 (2023) · published 9 May 2023


The shallow water equations describe the horizontal flow of a thin layer of fluid with varying height. We show that the equations can be rewritten as a $d=2+1$ dimensional Abelian gauge theory. The magnetic field corresponds to the conserved height of the fluid, while the electric charge corresponds to the conserved vorticity. In a certain linearised approximation, the shallow water equations reduce to relativistic Maxwell-Chern-Simons theory. This describes Poincaré waves. The chiral edge modes of the theory are identified as coastal Kelvin waves.

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