Accessibility navigation

Characteristics of Langmuir Turbulence in the Ocean Mixed Layer

Grant, A. L. M. and Belcher, S. E. (2009) Characteristics of Langmuir Turbulence in the Ocean Mixed Layer. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 39 (8). pp. 1871-1887. ISSN 0022-3670

Text - Published Version
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/2009JPO4119.1


This study uses large-eddy simulation (LES) to investigate the characteristics of Langmuir turbulence through the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) budget. Based on an analysis of the TKE budget a velocity scale for Langmuir turbulence is proposed. The velocity scale depends on both the friction velocity and the surface Stokes drift associated with the wave field. The scaling leads to unique profiles of nondimensional dissipation rate and velocity component variances when the Stokes drift of the wave field is sufficiently large compared to the surface friction velocity. The existence of such a scaling shows that Langmuir turbulence can be considered as a turbulence regime in its own right, rather than a modification of shear-driven turbulence. Comparisons are made between the LES results and observations, but the lack of information concerning the wave field means these are mainly restricted to comparing profile shapes. The shapes of the LES profiles are consistent with observed profiles. The dissipation length scale for Langmuir turbulence is found to be similar to the dissipation length scale in the shear-driven boundary layer. Beyond this it is not possible to test the proposed scaling directly using available data. Entrainment at the base of the mixed layer is shown to be significantly enhanced over that due to normal shear turbulence.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:1750
Publisher:American Meteorological Society
Publisher Statement:© Copyright [2009-08] American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17USC §108, as revised by P.L. 94-553) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a web site or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy, available on the AMS Web site located at ( or from the AMS at 617-227-2425 or


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation