Aerodynamic roughness of the sea surface at high winds

TitleAerodynamic roughness of the sea surface at high winds
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsKudryavtsev, VN, Makin, VK
JournalBoundary-layer Meteorology
Tertiary TitleFrom the issue entitled "Atmospheric Boundary layers: Nature, Theory and Applications to Environmental Modelling and Security"
Number of Pages289-303
PublisherSpringer Verlag

The role of the surface roughness in the formation of the aerodynamic friction of the water surface at high wind speeds is investigated. The study is based on a wind-over-waves coupling theory. In this theory waves provide the surface friction velocity through the form drag, while the energy input from the wind to waves depends on the friction velocity and the wind speed. The wind-over-waves coupling model is extended to high wind speeds taking into account the effect of sheltering of the short wind waves by the air-flow separation from breaking crests of longer waves. It is suggested that the momentum and energy flux from the wind to short waves locally vanishes if they are trapped into the separation bubble of breaking longer waves. At short fetches, typical for laboratory conditions, and strong winds the steep dominant wind waves break frequently and provide the major part of the total form drag through the air-flow separation from breaking crests, and the effect of short waves on the sea drag is suppressed. In this case the dependence of the drag coefficient on the wind speed is much weaker than would be expected from the standard parameterization of the roughness parameter through the Charnock relation. At long fetches, typical for the field, waves in the spectral peak break rarely and their contribution to the air-flow separation is weak. In this case the surface form drag is determined predominantly by the air-flow separation from breaking of the equilibrium range waves. As found at high wind speeds up to 60 m s−1 the modelled aerodynamic roughness is consistent with the Charnock relation, i.e. there is no saturation of the sea drag. Unlike the aerodynamic roughness, the geometrical surface roughness (height of short waves) could be saturated or even suppressed when the wind speed exceeds 30 m s−1.

Refereed DesignationUnknown
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