On the Nature of the Turbulent Energy Dissipation Beneath Nonbreaking Waves

Darek J. Bogucki, Brian K. Haus, Mohammad Barzegar, Mingming Shao, Julian A. Domaradzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Here we have determined the nature of turbulent flow associated with oceanic nonbreaking waves, which are on average much more prevalent than breaking waves in most wind conditions. We found this flow to be characterized by a low turbulence microscale Reynolds number of 30 < Reλ < 100. We observed that the turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate associated with nonbreaking waves ϵ, ranged to 3 · 10−4 W/kg for a wave amplitude 50 cm. The ϵ, under nonbreaking waves, was consistent with (Formula presented.); Sij is the large-scale (energy-containing scales) wave-induced mean flow stress tensor. The turbulent Reynolds stress associated with nonbreaking waves was consistent with experimental data when parameterized by an amplitude independent constant turbulent eddy viscosity, 10 times larger than the molecular value. Given that nonbreaking waves typically cover a much larger fraction of the ocean surface (90–100%) than breaking waves, this result shows that their contribution to wave dissipation can be significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL090138
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 16 2020


  • nonbreaking waves
  • upper ocean turbulence
  • wave dissipation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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