HiWinGS Observations: Whitecap Fraction and Sea State
Breaking waves entrain air into the upper ocean, forming plumes of bubbles that can enhance gas exchange and generate sea-spray aerosol when they burst at the surface. Whitecaps are the surface manifestation of these bubble plumes and often used as a proxy measure for the associated processes. Whitecap fraction data was calculated using images from multiple cameras situated on the ship that operated autonomously throughout the cruise.
A wide variety of wind speeds and sea states were observed; 10-minute averaged Hs and U10 values during HiWinGS were between 1.38 and 11.4 m, and 0.1 m/s and 27.7 m/s respectively. Here we discuss whitecap fractions for these different observed conditions, comparing observations with wave statistics and spectral energies.