AbstractPhysical phenomena at an air–water interface are of interest in a variety of flows with both industrial and natural/environmental applications. In this paper, we present novel experimental techniques incorporating a multi-camera multi-laser instrumentation in a combined particle image velocimetry and laser-induced fluorescence system. The system yields accurate surface detection thus enabling velocity measurements to be performed very close to the interface. In the application presented here, we show results from a laboratory study of the turbulent airflow over wind driven surface waves. Accurate detection of the wavy air–water interface further yields a curvilinear coordinate system that grants practical and easy implementation of ensemble and phase averaging routines. In turn, these averaging techniques allow for the separation of mean, surface wave coherent, and turbulent velocity fields. In this paper, we describe the instrumentation and techniques and show several data products obtained on the air-side of a wavy air–water interface.