Air-Sea Interaction Features in the Baltic Sea and at a Pacific Trade-Wind Site: An Inter-comparison Study

Ulf Högström, Anna Rutgersson, Erik Sahlée, Ann Sofi Smedman, Tihomir S. Hristov, W. M. Drennan, K. K. Kahma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


A systematic comparison of wind profiles and momentum exchange at a trade wind site outside Oahu, Hawaii and corresponding data from the Baltic Sea is presented. The trade wind data are to a very high degree swell dominated, whereas the Baltic Sea data include a more varied assortment of wave conditions, ranging from a pure growing sea to swell. In the trade wind region swell waves travel predominantly in the wind direction, while in the Baltic, significant cross-wind swells are also present. Showing the drag coefficient as a function of the 10-m wind speed demonstrates striking differences for unstable conditions with swell for the wind-speed range 2 m s-1 < U10 < 7 m s-1, where the trade-wind site drag values are significantly larger than the corresponding Baltic Sea values. In striking contrast to this disagreement, other features studied are surprisingly similar between the two sites. Thus, exactly as found previously in Baltic Sea studies during unstable conditions and swell, the wind profile in light winds (3 m s-1) shows a wind maximum at around 7-8 m above the water, with close to constant wind speed above. Also, for slightly higher wind speeds (4 m s-1 < U10 < 7 m s-1), the similarity between wind profiles is striking, with a strong wind-speed increase below a height of about 7-8 m followed by a layer of virtually constant wind speed above. A consequence of these wind-profile features is that Monin-Obukhov similarity is no longer valid. At the trade-wind site this was observed to be the case even for wind speeds as high as 10 m s-1. The turbulence kinetic energy budget was evaluated for four cases of 8-16 30- min periods at the trade-wind site, giving results that agree very well with corresponding figures from the Baltic Sea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-163
Number of pages25
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Air-sea interaction
  • Monin-Obukhov similarity
  • Swell turbulence
  • Wind profiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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