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The influence of Langmuir turbulence on the scaling for the dissipation rate in the oceanic boundary layer

Teixeira, M. A. C. (2012) The influence of Langmuir turbulence on the scaling for the dissipation rate in the oceanic boundary layer. Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, 117 (C5). C05015. ISSN 0148-0227

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2011JC007235

Abstract/Summary

A model for estimating the turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate in the oceanic boundary layer, based on insights from rapid-distortion theory, is presented and tested. This model provides a possible explanation for the very high dissipation levels found by numerous authors near the surface. It is conceived that turbulence, injected into the water by breaking waves, is subsequently amplified due to its distortion by the mean shear of the wind-induced current and straining by the Stokes drift of surface waves. The partition of the turbulent shear stress into a shear-induced part and a wave-induced part is taken into account. In this picture, dissipation enhancement results from the same mechanism responsible for Langmuir circulations. Apart from a dimensionless depth and an eddy turn-over time, the dimensionless dissipation rate depends on the wave slope and wave age, which may be encapsulated in the turbulent Langmuir number La_t. For large La_t, or any Lat but large depth, the dissipation rate tends to the usual surface layer scaling, whereas when Lat is small, it is strongly enhanced near the surface, growing asymptotically as ɛ ∝ La_t^{-2} when La_t → 0. Results from this model are compared with observations from the WAVES and SWADE data sets, assuming that this is the dominant dissipation mechanism acting in the ocean surface layer and statistical measures of the corresponding fit indicate a substantial improvement over previous theoretical models. Comparisons are also carried out against more recent measurements, showing good order-of-magnitude agreement, even when shallow-water effects are important.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
ID Code:29235
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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