skip to main content

Title: Wind–Wave Misalignment Effects on Langmuir Turbulence in Tropical Cyclone Conditions

This study utilizes a large-eddy simulation (LES) approach to systematically assess the directional variability of wave-driven Langmuir turbulence (LT) in the ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL) under tropical cyclones (TCs). The Stokes drift vector, which drives LT through the Craik–Leibovich vortex force, is obtained through spectral wave simulations. LT’s direction is identified by horizontally elongated turbulent structures and objectively determined from horizontal autocorrelations of vertical velocities. In spite of a TC’s complex forcing with great wind and wave misalignments, this study finds that LT is approximately aligned with the wind. This is because the Reynolds stress and the depth-averaged Lagrangian shear (Eulerian plus Stokes drift shear) that are key in determining the LT intensity (determined by normalized depth-averaged vertical velocity variances) and direction are also approximately aligned with the wind relatively close to the surface. A scaling analysis of the momentum budget suggests that the Reynolds stress is approximately constant over a near-surface layer with predominant production of turbulent kinetic energy by Stokes drift shear, which is confirmed from the LES results. In this layer, Stokes drift shear, which dominates the Lagrangian shear, is aligned with the wind because of relatively short, wind-driven waves. On the contrary, Stokes drift exhibits considerable amount of misalignments with the wind. This wind–wave misalignment reduces LT intensity, consistent with a simple turbulent kinetic energy model. Our analysis shows that both the Reynolds stress and LT are aligned with the wind for different reasons: the former is dictated by the momentum budget, while the latter is controlled by wind-forced waves.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Physical Oceanography
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 3109-3126
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Turbulence driven by wind and waves controls the transport of heat, momentum, and matter in the ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL). For realistic ocean conditions, winds and waves are often neither aligned nor constant, for example, when winds turn rapidly. Based on a Large Eddy Simulation (LES) method, which captures shear-driven turbulence (ST) and Langmuir turbulence (LT) driven by the Craik-Leibovich vortex force, we investigate the OSBL response to abruptly turning winds. We design idealized LES experiments, whose winds are initially constant to equilibrate OSBL turbulence before abruptly turning 90° either cyclonically or anticyclonically. The transient Stokes drift for LT is estimated from a spectral wave model. The OSBL response includes three successive stages that follow the change in direction. During stage 1, turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) decreases due to reduced TKE production. Stage 2 is characterized by TKE increasing with TKE shear production recovering and exceeding TKE dissipation. Transient TKE levels may exceed their stationary values due to inertial resonance and non-equilibrium turbulence. Turbulence relaxes to its equilibrium state at stage 3, but LT still adjusts due to slowly developing waves. During stages 1 and 2, greatly misaligned wind and waves lead to Eulerian TKE production exceeding Stokes TKE production. A Reynolds stress budget analysis and Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equation models indicate that Stokes production furthermore drives the OSBL response. The Coriolis effects result in asymmetrical OSBL responses to wind turning directions. Our results suggest that transient wind conditions play a key role in understanding realistic OSBL dynamics. 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract This study investigates the dynamics of velocity shear and Reynolds stress in the ocean surface boundary layer for idealized misaligned wind and wave fields using a large-eddy simulation (LES) model based on the Craik–Leibovich equations, which captures Langmuir turbulence (LT). To focus on the role of LT, the LES experiments omit the Coriolis force, which obscures a stress–current-relation analysis. Furthermore, a vertically uniform body force is imposed so that the volume-averaged Eulerian flow does not accelerate but is steady. All simulations are first spun-up without wind-wave misalignment to reach a fully developed stationary turbulent state. Then, a crosswind Stokes drift profile is abruptly imposed, which drives crosswind stresses and associated crosswind currents without generating volume-averaged crosswind currents. The flow evolves to a new stationary state, in which the crosswind Reynolds stress vanishes while the crosswind Eulerian shear and Stokes drift shear are still present, yielding a misalignment between Reynolds stress and Lagrangian shear (sum of Eulerian current and Stokes drift). A Reynolds stress budgets analysis reveals a balance between stress production and velocity–pressure gradient terms (VPG) that encloses crosswind Eulerian shear, demonstrating a complex relation between shear and stress. In addition, the misalignment between Reynolds stress and Eulerian shear generates a horizontal turbulent momentum flux (due to correlations of along-wind and crosswind turbulent velocities) that can be important in producing Reynolds stress (due to correlations of horizontal and vertical turbulent velocities). Thus, details of the Reynolds stress production by Eulerian and Stokes drift shear may be critical for driving upper-ocean currents and for accurate turbulence parameterizations in misaligned wind-wave conditions. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Mixing processes in the upper ocean play a key role in transferring heat, momentum, and matter in the ocean. These mixing processes are significantly enhanced by wave‐driven Langmuir turbulence (LT). Based on a paired analysis of observations and simulations, this study investigates wind fetch and direction effects on LT at a coastal site south of the island Martha’s Vineyard (MA, USA). Our results demonstrate that LT is strongly influenced by wind fetch and direction in coastal oceans, both of which contribute to controlling turbulent coastal transport processes. For northerly offshore winds, land limits the wind fetch and wave development, whereas southerly winds are associated with practically infinite fetch. Observed and simulated two‐dimensional wave height spectra reveal persistent southerly swell and substantially more developed wind‐driven waves from the south. For oblique offshore winds, waves develop more strongly in the alongshore direction with less limited fetch, resulting in significant wind and wave misalignments. Observations of coherent near‐surface crosswind velocities indicate that LT is only present for sufficiently developed waves. The fetch‐limited northerly winds inhibit wave developments and the formation of LT. In addition to limited fetch, strong wind–wave misalignments prevent LT development. Although energetic and persistent, swell waves do not substantially influence LT activity during the observation period because these relatively long swell waves are associated with small Stokes drift shear. These observational results agree well with turbulence‐resolving large eddy simulations (LESs) based on the wave‐averaged Navier–Stokes equation, validating the LES approach to coastal LT in the complex wind and wave conditions.

    more » « less
  4. Turbulent processes in the ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL) play a key role in weather and climate systems. This study explores a Lagrangian analysis of wave-driven OSBL turbulence, based on a large-eddy simulation (LES) model coupled to a Lagrangian stochastic model (LSM). Langmuir turbulence (LT) is captured by Craik–Leibovich wave forcing that generates LT through the Craik–Leibovich type 2 (CL2) mechanism. Breaking wave (BW) effects are modeled by a surface turbulent kinetic energy flux that is constrained by wind energy input to surface waves. Unresolved LES subgrid-scale (SGS) motions are simulated with the LSM to be energetically consistent with the SGS model of the LES. With LT, Lagrangian autocorrelations of velocities reveal three distinct turbulent time scales: an integral, a dispersive mixing, and a coherent structure time. Coherent structures due to LT result in relatively narrow peaks of Lagrangian frequency velocity spectra. With and without waves, the high-frequency spectral tail is consistent with expectations for the inertial subrange, but BWs substantially increase spectral levels at high frequencies. Consistently, over short times, particle-pair dispersion results agree with the Richardson–Obukhov law, and near-surface dispersion is significantly enhanced because of BWs. Over longer times, our dispersion results are consistent with Taylor dispersion. In this case, turbulent diffusivities are substantially larger with LT in the crosswind direction, but reduced in the along-wind direction because of enhanced turbulent transport by LT that reduces mean Eulerian shear. Our results indicate that the Lagrangian analysis framework is effective and physically intuitive to characterize OSBL turbulence.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    In shallow coastal oceans, turbulent flows driven by surface winds and waves and constrained by a solid bottom disperse particles. This work examines the mechanisms driving horizontal and vertical dispersion of buoyant and sinking particles for times much greater than turbulent integral time scales. Turbulent fields are modeled using a wind‐stress driven large eddy simulation (LES), incorporating wave‐driven Langmuir turbulence, surface breaking wave turbulent kinetic energy inputs, and a solid bottom boundary. A Lagrangian stochastic model is paired to the LES to incorporate Lagrangian particle tracking. Within a subset of intermediate buoyant rise velocities, particles experience synergistic vertical mixing in which breaking waves (BW) inject particles into Langmuir downwelling velocities sufficient to drive deep mixing. Along‐wind dispersion is controlled by vertical shear in mean along‐wind velocities. Wind and bottom friction‐driven vertical shear enhances dispersion of buoyant and sinking particles, while energetic turbulent mixing, such as from BW, dampens shear dispersion. Strongly rising and sinking particles trapped at the ocean surface and bottom, respectively, experience no vertical shear, resulting in low rates of along‐wind dispersion. Crosswind dispersion is shaped by particle advection in wind‐aligned fields of counter‐rotating Langmuir and Couette roll cells. Langmuir cells enhance crosswind dispersion in neutrally to intermediately buoyant particles through enhanced cell hopping. Surface trapping restricts particles to Langmuir convergence regions, strongly inhibiting crosswind dispersion. In shallow coastal systems, particle dispersion depends heavily on particle buoyancy and wave‐dependent turbulent effects.

    more » « less