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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 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.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1634051
NSF-PAR ID:
10389426
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume:
920
ISSN:
0022-1120
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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    Significance Statement

    Surface waves grow through a pattern of atmospheric pressure that travels with the water wave, acting as a pump against the water surface. The pressure pumping, sometimes called pressure work, or the piston pressure, results in a transfer of kinetic energy from the air to the water that makes waves grow larger. To conserve energy, it is thought that the pressure work on the surface must extract energy from the mean wind profile or wind turbulence that sets the shape of the wind speed with height. In this paper, we present direct measurements of pressure work in the atmosphere above surface waves. We show that the energy extracted by atmospheric pressure work fits existing models for how waves grow and a simple model for how waves reduce energy in the turbulent kinetic energy budget. To our knowledge, these are the first reported field measurements of wave-coherent pressure work.

     
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