Pressure Fields in the Airflow over Wind-Generated Surface Waves


The quantification of pressure fields in the airflow over water waves is fundamental for understanding the coupling of the atmosphere and the ocean. The relationship between the pressure field, and the water surface slope and velocity, are crucial in setting the fluxes of momentum and energy. However, quantifying these fluxes is hampered by difficulties in measuring pressure fields at the wavy air-water interface. Here we utilise results from laboratory experiments of wind-driven surface waves. The data consist of particle image velocimetry of the airflow combined with laser-induced fluorescence of the water surface. These data were then used to develop a pressure field reconstruction technique based on solving a pressure Poisson equation in the airflow above water waves. The results allow for independent quantification of both the viscous stress and pressure-induced form drag components of the momentum flux. Comparison of these with an independent bulk estimate of the total momentum flux (based on law-of-the-wall theory) shows that the momentum budget is closed to within approximately 5%. In the partitioning of the momentum flux between viscous and pressure drag components, we find a greater influence of form drag at high wind speeds and wave slopes. An analysis of the various approximations and assumptions made in the pressure reconstruction, along with the corresponding sources of error, is also presented.
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