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The Ocean Boundary Layer below Hurricane Dennis

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  • 1 Applied Physics Laboratory and School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

Three neutrally buoyant floats were air deployed ahead of Hurricane Dennis on 28 August 1999. These floats were designed to accurately follow three-dimensional water trajectories and measure pressure (i.e., their own depth) and temperature. The hurricane eye passed between two of the floats; both measured the properties of the ocean boundary layer beneath sustained 30 m s−1 winds. The floats repeatedly moved through a mixed layer 30–70 m deep at average vertical speeds of 0.03–0.06 m s−1. The speed was roughly proportional to the friction velocity. Mixed layer temperature cooled about 2.8° and 0.75°C at the floats on the east and west sides of the northward-going storm, respectively. Much of the cooling occurred before the eye passage. The remaining terms in the horizontally averaged mixed layer heat budget, the vertical velocity–temperature covariance and the Lagrangian heating rate, were computed from the float data. Surface heat fluxes accounted for only a small part of the cooling. Most of the cooling was due to entrainment of colder water from below and, on the right-hand (east) side only, horizontal advection and mixing with colder water. The larger entrainment flux on this side of the hurricane was presumably due to the much larger inertial currents and shear. Although these floats can make detailed measurements of the heat transfer mechanisms in the ocean boundary layer under these severe conditions, accurate measurements of heat flux will require clusters of many floats to reduce the statistical error.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Eric A. D'Asaro, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, 1013 NE 40th St., Seattle, WA 98105. Email: dasaro@apl.washington.edu

Abstract

Three neutrally buoyant floats were air deployed ahead of Hurricane Dennis on 28 August 1999. These floats were designed to accurately follow three-dimensional water trajectories and measure pressure (i.e., their own depth) and temperature. The hurricane eye passed between two of the floats; both measured the properties of the ocean boundary layer beneath sustained 30 m s−1 winds. The floats repeatedly moved through a mixed layer 30–70 m deep at average vertical speeds of 0.03–0.06 m s−1. The speed was roughly proportional to the friction velocity. Mixed layer temperature cooled about 2.8° and 0.75°C at the floats on the east and west sides of the northward-going storm, respectively. Much of the cooling occurred before the eye passage. The remaining terms in the horizontally averaged mixed layer heat budget, the vertical velocity–temperature covariance and the Lagrangian heating rate, were computed from the float data. Surface heat fluxes accounted for only a small part of the cooling. Most of the cooling was due to entrainment of colder water from below and, on the right-hand (east) side only, horizontal advection and mixing with colder water. The larger entrainment flux on this side of the hurricane was presumably due to the much larger inertial currents and shear. Although these floats can make detailed measurements of the heat transfer mechanisms in the ocean boundary layer under these severe conditions, accurate measurements of heat flux will require clusters of many floats to reduce the statistical error.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Eric A. D'Asaro, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, 1013 NE 40th St., Seattle, WA 98105. Email: dasaro@apl.washington.edu

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