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Title: Direct Observation of Wave-Coherent Pressure Work in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer
Abstract

Surface waves grow through a mechanism in which atmospheric pressure is offset in phase from the wavy surface. A pattern of low atmospheric pressure over upward wave orbital motions (leeward side) and high pressure over downward wave orbital motions (windward side) travels with the water wave, leading to a pumping of kinetic energy from the atmospheric boundary layer into the waves. This pressure pattern persists above the air–water interface, modifying the turbulent kinetic energy in the atmospheric wave-affected boundary layer. Here, we present field measurements of wave-coherent atmospheric pressure and velocity to elucidate the transfer of energy from the atmospheric turbulence budget into waves through wave-coherent atmospheric pressure work. Measurements show that the phase between wave-coherent pressure and velocity is shifted slightly above 90° when wind speed exceeds the wave phase speed, allowing for a downward energy flux via pressure work. Although previous studies have reported wave-coherent pressure, to the authors’ knowledge, these are the first reported field measurements of wave-coherent pressure work. Measured pressure work cospectra are consistent with an existing model for atmospheric pressure work. The implications for these measurements and their importance to the turbulent kinetic energy budget are discussed.

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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NSF-PAR ID:
10487207
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Physical Oceanography
Volume:
54
Issue:
2
ISSN:
0022-3670
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: p. 445-459
Size(s):
p. 445-459
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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