An approach to estimation of near-surface turbulence and CO2 transfer velocity from remote sensing data

Alexander Soloviev, Mark Donelan, Hans Graber, Brian Haus, Peter Schlüssel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


The air-sea CO2 exchange is primarily determined by the boundary-layer processes in the near-surface layer of the ocean since it is a water-side limited gas. As a consequence, the interfacial component of the CO2 transfer velocity can be linked to parameters of turbulence in the near-surface layer of the ocean. The development of remote sensing techniques provides a possibility to quantify the dissipation of the turbulent kinetic energy in the near-surface layer of the ocean and the air-sea CO2 transfer velocity on a global scale. In this work, the dissipation rate of the turbulent kinetic energy in the near-surface layer of the ocean and its patchiness has been linked to the air-sea CO2 transfer velocity with a boundary-layer type model. Field observations of upper ocean turbulence, laboratory studies, and the direct CO2 flux measurements are used to validate the model. The model is then forced with the TOPEX POSEIDON wind speed and significant wave height to demonstrate its applicability for estimating the distribution of the near-surface turbulence dissipation rate and gas transfer velocity for an extended (decadal) time period. A future version of this remote sensing algorithm will incorporate directional wind/wave data being available from QUIKSCAT, a now-cast wave model, and satellite heat fluxes. The inclusion of microwave imagery from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) and the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) will provide additional information on the fractional whitecap coverage and sea surface turbulence patchiness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-194
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Marine Systems
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007



  • Air-water interface
  • Boundary-layers
  • Remote sensing
  • Turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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