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  1. 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.

     
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  2. 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. 
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