Spectral energy dissipation of wave breaking in mixed seas


Ocean wave breaking controls the height of surface waves, enhances mixing near the water surface, generates ocean currents, and augments air-sea fluxes of heat, mass, and momentum. Yet wave breaking is still not well understood, as breaking events are episodic and highly nonlinear. Recent field studies using remote video data and a spectral approach have helped to explain breaking under fetch-limited, narrow-banded wave conditions. Significant work is needed to modify these methods for use in mixed seas, which are a combination of both locally-generated wind seas and far-traveling, low-frequency swell waves.

People: Michael Schwendeman, Jim Thomson
Funding: National Science Foundation

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