Effects of Swell Waves on Atmospheric Boundary Layer Turbulence: A Low Wind Field Study

Zhongshui Zou, Jinbao Song, Peiliang Li, Jian Huang, Jun A. Zhang, Zhanhong Wan, Shuiqing Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The effect of swell waves on atmospheric boundary layer turbulence under low winds was explored using data from a fixed platform located in the South China Sea. The wind spectra, cospectra, and Ogive curve measured at a height of 8 m above the mean sea surface provided direct evidence that wind stress was affected by swell waves. To interpret such phenomena, an improved approach was derived based on the fact that the total wind stress was the vector sum of turbulent stress and wave-coherent stress. Different from the approaches of earlier studies, our approach did not align the turbulent stress with the mean wind speed. The influence of swell waves on the magnitude and direction of the total wind stress was analyzed using our approach. The results showed that the wave-coherent stress derived from our data accounted for 32% of the total wind stress. The magnitude and angle of the wind stress changed by swell waves depended on the relative angle between the turbulent stress and swell direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5671-5685
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • air-sea interactions
  • atmospheric boundary layer turbulence
  • swell waves
  • wind stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


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