skip to main content

Title: Turbulent and wave kinetic energy budgets in the airflow over wind-generated surface waves
The momentum and energy exchanges at the ocean surface are central factors determining the sea state, weather patterns and climate. To investigate the effects of surface waves on the air–sea energy exchanges, we analyse high-resolution laboratory measurements of the airflow velocity acquired above wind-generated surface waves using the particle image velocimetry technique. The velocity fields were further decomposed into the mean, wave-coherent and turbulent components, and the corresponding energy budgets were explored in detail. We specifically focused on the terms of the budget equations that represent turbulence production, wave production and wave–turbulence interactions. Over wind waves, the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) production is positive at all heights with a sharp peak near the interface, indicating the transfer of energy from the mean shear to the turbulence. Away from the surface, however, the TKE production approaches zero. Similarly, the wave kinetic energy (WKE) production is positive in the lower portion of the wave boundary layer (WBL), representing the transfer of energy from the mean flow to the wave-coherent field. In the upper part of the WBL, WKE production becomes slightly negative, wherein the energy is transferred from the wave perturbation to the mean flow. The viscous and Stokes sublayer heights emerge more » as natural vertical scales for the TKE and WKE production terms, respectively. The interactions between the wave and turbulence perturbations show an energy transfer from the wave to the turbulence in the bulk of the WBL and from the turbulence to the wave in a thin layer near the interface. « less
; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Fluid Mechanics
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The air–sea momentum exchanges in the presence of surface waves play an integral role in coupling the atmosphere and the ocean. In the current study, we present a detailed laboratory investigation of the momentum fluxes over wind-generated waves. Experiments were performed in the large wind-wave facility at the Air–Sea Interaction Laboratory of the University of Delaware. Airflow velocity measurements were acquired above wind waves using a combination of particle image velocimetry and laser-induced fluorescence techniques. The momentum budget is examined using a wave-following orthogonal curvilinear coordinate system. In the wave boundary layer, the phase-averaged turbulent stress is intense (weak) and positive downwind (upwind) of the crests. The wave-induced stress is also positive on the windward and leeward sides of wave crests but with asymmetric intensities. These regions of positive wave stress are intertwined with regions of negative wave stress just above wave crests and downwind of wave troughs. Likewise, at the interface, the viscous stress exhibits along-wave phase-locked variations with maxima upwind of the wave crests. As a general trend, the mean profiles of the wave-induced stress decrease to a negative minimum from a near-zero value far from the surface and then increase rapidly to a positive value near themore »interface where the turbulent stress is reduced. Far away from the surface, however, the turbulent stress is nearly equal to the total stress. Very close to the surface, in the viscous sublayer, the wave and turbulent stresses vanish, and therefore the stress is supported by the viscosity.« less
  2. This study analyzes high-resolution ship data collected in the Gulf of Mexico during the Lagrangian Submesoscale Experiment (LASER) from January to February 2016 to produce the first reported measurements of dissipative heating in the explicitly nonhurricane atmospheric surface layer. Although typically computed from theory as a function of wind speed cubed, the dissipative heating directly estimated via the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rate is also presented. The dissipative heating magnitude agreed with a previous study that estimated the dissipative heating in the hurricane boundary layer using in situ aircraft data. Our observations that the 10-m neutral drag coefficient parameterized using TKE dissipation rate approaches zero slope as wind increases suggests that TKE dissipation and dissipative heating are constrained to a physical limit. Both surface-layer stability and sea state were observed to be important conditions influencing dissipative heating, with the stability determined via TKE budget terms and the sea state determined via wave steepness and age using direct shipboard measurements. Momentum and enthalpy fluxes used in the TKE budget are determined using the eddy-correlation method. It is found that the TKE dissipation rate and the dissipative heating are largest in a nonneutral atmospheric surface layer with a sea surface comprisingmore »steep wind sea and slow swell waves at a given surface wind speed, whereas the ratio of dissipative heating to enthalpy fluxes is largest in near-neutral stability where the turbulent vertical velocities are near zero.

    « less
  3. 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. Inmore »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.

    « less
  4. Turbulence and mixing in a near-bottom convectively driven flow are examined by numerical simulations of a model problem: a statically unstable disturbance at a slope with inclination $\unicode[STIX]{x1D6FD}$ in a stable background with buoyancy frequency $N$ . The influence of slope angle and initial disturbance amplitude are quantified in a parametric study. The flow evolution involves energy exchange between four energy reservoirs, namely the mean and turbulent components of kinetic energy (KE) and available potential energy (APE). In contrast to the zero-slope case where the mean flow is negligible, the presence of a slope leads to a current that oscillates with $\unicode[STIX]{x1D714}=N\sin \unicode[STIX]{x1D6FD}$ and qualitatively changes the subsequent evolution of the initial density disturbance. The frequency, $N\sin \unicode[STIX]{x1D6FD}$ , and the initial speed of the current are predicted using linear theory. The energy transfer in the sloping cases is dominated by an oscillatory exchange between mean APE and mean KE with a transfer to turbulence at specific phases. In all simulated cases, the positive buoyancy flux during episodes of convective instability at the zero-velocity phase is the dominant contributor to turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) although the shear production becomes increasingly important with increasing  $\unicode[STIX]{x1D6FD}$ . Energy that initially resides whollymore »in mean available potential energy is lost through conversion to turbulence and the subsequent dissipation of TKE and turbulent available potential energy. A key result is that, in contrast to the explosive loss of energy during the initial convective instability in the non-sloping case, the sloping cases exhibit a more gradual energy loss that is sustained over a long time interval. The slope-parallel oscillation introduces a new flow time scale $T=2\unicode[STIX]{x03C0}/(N\sin \unicode[STIX]{x1D6FD})$ and, consequently, the fraction of initial APE that is converted to turbulence during convective instability progressively decreases with increasing $\unicode[STIX]{x1D6FD}$ . For moderate slopes with $\unicode[STIX]{x1D6FD}<10^{\circ }$ , most of the net energy loss takes place during an initial, short ( $Nt\approx 20$ ) interval with periodic convective overturns. For steeper slopes, most of the energy loss takes place during a later, long ( $Nt>100$ ) interval when both shear and convective instability occur, and the energy loss rate is approximately constant. The mixing efficiency during the initial period dominated by convectively driven turbulence is found to be substantially higher (exceeds 0.5) than the widely used value of 0.2. The mixing efficiency at long time in the present problem of a convective overturn at a boundary varies between 0.24 and 0.3.« less
  5. The development of the governing equations for fluid flow in a surface-following coordinate system is essential to investigate the fluid flow near an interface deformed by propagating waves. In this paper, the governing equations of fluid flow, including conservation of mass, momentum and energy balance, are derived in an orthogonal curvilinear coordinate system relevant to surface water waves. All equations are further decomposed to extract mean, wave-induced and turbulent components. The complete transformed equations include explicit extra geometric terms. For example, turbulent stress and production terms include the effects of coordinate curvature on the structure of fluid flow. Furthermore, the governing equations of motion were further simplified by considering the flow over periodic quasi-linear surface waves wherein the wavelength of the disturbance is large compared to the wave amplitude. The quasi-linear analysis is employed to express the boundary layer equations in the orthogonal wave-following curvilinear coordinates with the corresponding decomposed equations for the mean, wave and turbulent fields. Finally, the vorticity equations are also derived in the orthogonal curvilinear coordinates in order to express the corresponding velocity–vorticity formulations. The equations developed in this paper proved to be useful in the analysis and interpretation of experimental data of fluid flow overmore »wind-generated surface waves. Experimental results are presented in a companion paper.« less