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The Effect of Foam on Waves and the Aerodynamic Roughness of the Water Surface at High Winds

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  • 1 Institute of Applied Physics, Nizhny Novgorod, and A.M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Moscow, Russia
  • | 2 Institute of Applied Physics, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
  • | 3 Finnish Meteorological Institute, and Institute of Atmospheric and Earth System Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland and Faculty of Radio-physics, Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
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Abstract

This paper models the impact of the presence of foam on the short-wave component of surface waves and momentum exchange in the atmospheric boundary layer at high winds. First, physical experiments were carried out in a wind-wave flume in which foam can be artificially produced at the water surface. Tests were conducted under high-wind-speed conditions where equivalent 10-m wind speed ranged from 12 to 38 m s−1, with measurements made of the airflow parameters, the frequency–wavenumber spectra of the surface waves, the foam coverage of the water surface, and the distribution of the foam bubbles. Analysis of the resulting data indicates that the surface drag coefficient correlates with the fraction of foam coverage and the mean square slope (MSS) of the water surface, and that, at a certain wind speed, the MSS decreases with an increase in the fraction of foam coverage. Based on these results, we suggest a simple model for eddy viscosity in the turbulent boundary layer over a fractionally foam-covered wave surface. The measurements in a laboratory environment are shown to be in good agreement with the predictions of a quasi-linear model of the atmospheric boundary layer over a waved water surface that adopts this eddy viscosity. Adaptation of the proposed model to field conditions is discussed, and the synergetic effect of foam at the water surface and spray in the marine atmospheric boundary layer on ocean surface resistance at high winds is estimated so as to be able to explain the observed peaking dependence of the surface drag coefficient on the 10-m wind speed.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Yuliya Troitskaya, yuliya@hydro.appl.sci-nnov.ru

Abstract

This paper models the impact of the presence of foam on the short-wave component of surface waves and momentum exchange in the atmospheric boundary layer at high winds. First, physical experiments were carried out in a wind-wave flume in which foam can be artificially produced at the water surface. Tests were conducted under high-wind-speed conditions where equivalent 10-m wind speed ranged from 12 to 38 m s−1, with measurements made of the airflow parameters, the frequency–wavenumber spectra of the surface waves, the foam coverage of the water surface, and the distribution of the foam bubbles. Analysis of the resulting data indicates that the surface drag coefficient correlates with the fraction of foam coverage and the mean square slope (MSS) of the water surface, and that, at a certain wind speed, the MSS decreases with an increase in the fraction of foam coverage. Based on these results, we suggest a simple model for eddy viscosity in the turbulent boundary layer over a fractionally foam-covered wave surface. The measurements in a laboratory environment are shown to be in good agreement with the predictions of a quasi-linear model of the atmospheric boundary layer over a waved water surface that adopts this eddy viscosity. Adaptation of the proposed model to field conditions is discussed, and the synergetic effect of foam at the water surface and spray in the marine atmospheric boundary layer on ocean surface resistance at high winds is estimated so as to be able to explain the observed peaking dependence of the surface drag coefficient on the 10-m wind speed.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Yuliya Troitskaya, yuliya@hydro.appl.sci-nnov.ru
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