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  1. 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 emergemore »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
  2. The small-scale physics within the first centimetres above the wavy air–sea interface are the gateway for transfers of momentum and scalars between the atmosphere and the ocean. We present an experimental investigation of the surface wind stress over laboratory wind-generated waves. Measurements were performed at the University of Delaware's large wind-wave-current facility using a recently developed state-of-the-art wind-wave imaging system. The system was deployed at a fetch of 22.7 m, with wind speeds from 2.19 to $16.63\ \textrm {m}\ \textrm {s}^{-1}$ . Airflow velocity fields were acquired using particle image velocimetry above the wind waves down to $100\ \mathrm {\mu }\textrm {m}$ above the surface, and wave profiles were detected using laser-induced fluorescence. The airflow intermittently separates downwind of wave crests, starting at wind speeds as low as $2.19\ \textrm {m}\ \textrm {s}^{-1}$ . Such events are accompanied by a dramatic drop in tangential viscous stress past the wave's crest, and a gradual regeneration of the viscous sublayer upon the following (downwind) crest. This contrasts with non-airflow separating waves, where the surface viscous stress drop is less significant. Airflow separation becomes increasingly dominant with increasing wind speed and wave slope $a k$ (where $a$ and $k$ are peak wave amplitudemore »and wavenumber, respectively). At the highest wind speed ( $16.63\ \textrm {m}\ \textrm {s}^{-1}$ ), airflow separation occurs over nearly 100 % of the wave crests. The total air–water momentum flux is partitioned between viscous stress and form drag at the interface. Viscous stress (respectively form drag) dominates at low (respectively high) wave slopes. Tangential viscous forcing makes a minor contribution ( ${\sim }3\,\%$ ) to wave growth.« less
  3. 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
  4. 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