Wave Glider Observations of Surface Waves During Three Tropical Cyclones in the South China Sea


Surface waves induced by tropical cyclones (TCs) play an important role in the air–sea interaction, yet are seldom observed. In the 2017 summer, a wave glider in the northern South China Sea successfully acquired the surface wave parameters when three TCs (Hato, Pakhar, and Mawar) passed though successively. During the three TCs, surface wave period increased from 4–6 s to ~8–10 s and surface wave height increased from 0–1 m to 3–8 m. The number of wave crests observed in a time interval of 1024 s decreased from 100–150 to 60–75. The sea surface roughness, a key factor in determining the momentum transfer between air and sea, increased rapidly during Hato, Pakhar, and Mawar. Surface waves rotated clockwise (anti-clockwise) on the right (left) side of the TC track, and generally propagated to the right side of the local cyclonic tangential direction relative to the TC center. The azimuthal dependence of the wave propagation direction is close to sinusoidal in a region within 50–600 km. The intersection angle between surface wave direction and the local cyclonic tangential direction is generally smallest in the right-rear quadrant of the TC and tends to be largest in the left-rear quadrant. This new set of glider wave observational data proves to be useful for assessing wave forecast products and for improvements in corresponding parameterization schemes.
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