Turbulent Airflow and Wave-Induced Stress Over the Ocean

Hitoshi Tamura, William M. Drennan, Clarence O. Collins, Hans C. Graber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We examine the structure of turbulent airflow over ocean waves. Based on an analysis of wind and wave observations derived from a moored and floating Air–Sea Interaction Spar buoy during the Shoaling Waves Experiment field campaign, we show that the cospectra of momentum flux for wind–sea conditions follow established universal scaling laws. Under swell-dominant conditions, the wave boundary layer is extended and the universal cospectral scaling breaks down, as demonstrated previously. On the other hand, the use of peak wave frequency to reproduce the universal cospectra successfully explains the structure of the turbulent flow field. We quantify the wave-coherent component of the airflow and this clarifies how ocean waves affect momentum transfer through the wave boundary layer. In fact, the estimated wave-induced stresses for swell-dominant conditions explain the anomalous cospectral shapes observed near the peak wave frequency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-66
Number of pages20
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Wave boundary layer
  • Wave slope
  • Wave-induced stress
  • Wind stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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