Revised Estimates of Ocean Surface Drag in Strong Winds

M. Curcic, B. K. Haus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Air-sea drag governs the momentum transfer between the atmosphere and the ocean and remains largely unknown in hurricane winds. We revisit the momentum budget and eddy covariance methods to estimate the surface drag coefficient in the laboratory. Our drag estimates agree with field measurements in low-to-moderate winds and previous laboratory measurements in hurricane-force winds. The drag coefficient saturates at 2.6×10−3 and U10≈25 m s−1, in agreement with previous laboratory results by Takagaki et al. (2012,). During our analysis, we discovered an error in the original source code used by Donelan et al. (2004,). We present the corrected data and describe the correction procedure. Although the correction to the data does not change the key finding of drag saturation in strong winds, its magnitude and wind speed threshold are significantly changed. Our findings emphasize the need for an updated and unified drag parameterization based on field and laboratory data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL087647
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 28 2020


  • air-sea drag
  • hurricanes
  • measurements
  • numerical weather prediction
  • ocean waves
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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