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A Three-Dimensional Model of the Sea Surface Consistent with Anomalously Low Gas Transfer Coefficients for Non-Ideal Gases at High Wind Speeds

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Tuesday, 8 January 2013
A Three-Dimensional Model of the Sea Surface Consistent with Anomalously Low Gas Transfer Coefficients for Non-Ideal Gases at High Wind Speeds
Edward C. Monahan, University of Connecticut, Groton, CT; and P. Vlahos

A three-dimensional model of the ocean surface, where, due to the stirring effect of rising big bubbles, the gas transfer coefficient, k, assigned to the interior of the ephemeral, active, whitecaps is some three orders of magnitude greater that than the k attributed the whitecap-free majority of the sea surface, gave rise to an area-averaged k that varies as the cube of the wind speed. Now, an addition to this model which explicitly takes account of the role of the momentarily large aggregate surface area associated with the great number of smaller bubbles submerged within the dense, transient, bubble plume beneath each active whitecap in temporarily sequestering surface active gases “when and where it counts” provides an explanation for the anomalously low k that a number of laboratory and recent open ocean experiments have suggested for aqueous-side-controlled, non-ideal or surface active gases. Horizontal averaging can convert this 3-D model into a one-dimensional (z) model for direct comparison with other 1-D models, but at the cost of obscuring the governing physics.