On the existence of water turbulence induced by nonbreaking surface waves

Alexander V. Babanin, Brian K. Haus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


This paper is dedicated to wave-induced turbulence unrelated to wave breaking. The existence of such turbulence has been foreshadowed in a number of experimental, theoretical, and numerical studies. The current study presents direct measurements of this turbulence. The laboratory experiment was conducted by means of particle image velocimetry, which allowed estimates of wavenumber velocity spectra beneath monochromatic nonbreaking unforced waves. Observed spectra intermittently exhibited the Kolmogorov interval associated with the presence of isotropic turbulence. The magnitudes of the energy dissipation rates due to this turbulence in the particular case of 1.5-Hz deep-water waves were quantified as a function of the surface wave amplitude. The presence of such turbulence, previously not accounted for, can affect the physics of the wave energy dissipation, the subsurface boundary layer, and the ocean mixing in a significant way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2675-2679
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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