Enhanced dissipation of kinetic energy beneath surface waves

Y. C. Agrawal, E. A. Terray, M. A. Donelan, P. A. Hwang, A. J. Williams, William M Drennan, K. K. Kahma, S. A. Kitaigorodskii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

242 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

TRANSFER of momentum from wind to the surface layer of lakes and oceans plays a central part in driving horizontal and vertical circulation of water masses. Much work has been devoted to understanding the role of waves in momentum transfer across the air-sea interface, but less is known about the energetics of the near-surface turbulence responsible for the mixing of momentum and mass into the underlying water column. In particular, it has remained unclear whether the structure of the turbulence in the surface layer can be described by analogy to wall-bounded shear flows or whether waves, either through breaking or wave-current interaction, introduce new length- and timescales which must be modelled explicitly. Here we report observations of turbulence in Lake Ontario, taken under conditions of strong wave breaking, which reveal a greatly enhanced dissipation rate of kinetic energy close to the air-water interface, relative to the predictions of wall-layer theory. Because wave breaking is intermittent, short-term measurements of the kinetic energy dissipation in the near-surface layer may therefore result in considerable underestimates, and any general treatment of upper mixed layer dynamics will have to take wave breaking explicitly into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-220
Number of pages2
JournalNature
Volume359
Issue number6392
StatePublished - Sep 17 1992
Externally publishedYes

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wave breaking
surface wave
kinetic energy
dissipation
surface layer
turbulence
momentum
wave-current interaction
momentum transfer
shear flow
lake
air
energy dissipation
water mass
mixed layer
energetics
water column
timescale
ocean
prediction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Agrawal, Y. C., Terray, E. A., Donelan, M. A., Hwang, P. A., Williams, A. J., Drennan, W. M., ... Kitaigorodskii, S. A. (1992). Enhanced dissipation of kinetic energy beneath surface waves. Nature, 359(6392), 219-220.

Enhanced dissipation of kinetic energy beneath surface waves. / Agrawal, Y. C.; Terray, E. A.; Donelan, M. A.; Hwang, P. A.; Williams, A. J.; Drennan, William M; Kahma, K. K.; Kitaigorodskii, S. A.

In: Nature, Vol. 359, No. 6392, 17.09.1992, p. 219-220.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Agrawal, YC, Terray, EA, Donelan, MA, Hwang, PA, Williams, AJ, Drennan, WM, Kahma, KK & Kitaigorodskii, SA 1992, 'Enhanced dissipation of kinetic energy beneath surface waves', Nature, vol. 359, no. 6392, pp. 219-220.
Agrawal YC, Terray EA, Donelan MA, Hwang PA, Williams AJ, Drennan WM et al. Enhanced dissipation of kinetic energy beneath surface waves. Nature. 1992 Sep 17;359(6392):219-220.
Agrawal, Y. C. ; Terray, E. A. ; Donelan, M. A. ; Hwang, P. A. ; Williams, A. J. ; Drennan, William M ; Kahma, K. K. ; Kitaigorodskii, S. A. / Enhanced dissipation of kinetic energy beneath surface waves. In: Nature. 1992 ; Vol. 359, No. 6392. pp. 219-220.
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