Momentum flux measurements in the airflow over wind-generated surface waves


The air–sea momentum exchanges in the presence of surface waves play an integral role in coupling the atmosphere and the ocean. In the current study, we present a detailed laboratory investigation of the momentum fluxes over wind-generated waves. Experiments were performed in the large wind-wave facility at the Air–Sea Interaction Laboratory of the University of Delaware. Airflow velocity measurements were acquired above wind waves using a combination of particle image velocimetry and laser-induced fluorescence techniques. The momentum budget is examined using a wave-following orthogonal curvilinear coordinate system. In the wave boundary layer, the phase-averaged turbulent stress is intense (weak) and positive downwind (upwind) of the crests. The wave-induced stress is also positive on the windward and leeward sides of wave crests but with asymmetric intensities. These regions of positive wave stress are intertwined with regions of negative wave stress just above wave crests and downwind of wave troughs. Likewise, at the interface, the viscous stress exhibits along-wave phase-locked variations with maxima upwind of the wave crests. As a general trend, the mean profiles of the wave-induced stress decrease to a negative minimum from a near-zero value far from the surface and then increase rapidly to a positive value near the interface where the turbulent stress is reduced. Far away from the surface, however, the turbulent stress is nearly equal to the total stress. Very close to the surface, in the viscous sublayer, the wave and turbulent stresses vanish, and therefore the stress is supported by the viscosity.
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