92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Thursday, 26 January 2012: 11:15 AM
Laboratory Modeling of Air-Sea Interaction Under Severe Wind Conditions (invited)
Room 256 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Yuliya Troitskaya, Russian Academy of Sciences, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia; and V. Kazakov, D. Sergeev, A. Ermoshkin, and A. Kandaurov

Wind-wave interaction at extreme wind speed is of special interest now in connection with the problem of explanation of the sea surface drag saturation at the wind speed exceeding 30 m/s. Both field and laboratory experiments confirmed that at hurricane wind speed the sea surface drag coefficient is significantly reduced in comparison with the parameterization obtained at moderate to strong wind conditions. Two groups of possible theoretical mechanisms for explanation of the effect of the sea surface drag reduction can be specified. In the first group of models the sea surface drag reduction is explained by peculiarities of the airflow over breaking waves. Another approach more appropriate for the conditions of developed sea exploits the effect of sea drops and sprays on the wind-wave momentum exchange.

The main objective of this work is investigation of factors determining momentum exchange under high wind speeds basing on the laboratory experiment carried out in the Thermo-Stratified WInd-WAve Tank (TSWIWAT) of the Institute of Applied Physics. The parameters of the facility are as follows: airflow 0 - 25 m/s (equivalent 10-m neutral wind speed U10 up to 40 m/s), dimensions 10m x 0.4m x 0.7 m, temperature stratification of the water layer. Simultaneous measurements of the airflow velocity profiles and wind waves were carried out in the wide range of wind velocities. Airflow velocity profile was measured by the Pitot tube. The water elevation was measured by the three-channel wave-gauge. Top and side views of the water surface were fixed by CCD-camera.

Wind friction velocity and surface drag coefficients were retrieved from the measurements by the profile method. Obtained values are in good agreement with the data of measurements by Donelan et al (2004). The directional frequency-wave-number spectra of surface waves were retrieved by the wavelet directional method (Donelan et al, 1996). The obtained dependencies of parameters of the wind waves indicate existing of two regimes of the waves with the critical wind speed Ucr about 25 m/s. For U10Ucr the dependencies of peak wave period, peak wavelength, significant wave height on the wind speed tend to saturation, in the same time the peak wave slope has the maximum at approximately Ucr and then decreases with the tendency to saturation. The surface drag also tends to saturation for U10>Ucr similarly to (Donelan et al, 2004). Video filming indicates onset of wave breaking with white-capping and spray generation at wind speeds approximately equal to Ucr.

High-wavenumber part of the surface wave spectrum is investigated by the optical method. Laser sheet crossed the air-water boundary and the contrast interface was recorded by high-speed video camera and then processed. Correlation of the high-frequency part of the wave spectra and normalized radar cross-section of the Doppler X-band dual polarization radar was investigated.

Basing on the experimental data a possible physical mechanism of the drag is suggested. Tearing of the wave crests at severe wind conditions leads to the effective smoothing (decreasing wave slopes) of the water surface, which in turn reduces the aerodynamic roughness of the water surface. Quantitative agreement of the experimental data and theoretical estimations of the surface drag occurs if the measured high-wavenumber part of the spectrum is taken into account.

This study was supported by Russian Foundation for basic research (project code 10-05-00339) and Russian Ministry for Education and Science.

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