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  • Author or Editor: Edward J. Walsh x
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Paul A. Hwang
and
Edward J. Walsh

Abstract

For wind-generated waves, the wind-wave triplets (reference wind speed, significant wave height, and spectral peak wave period) are intimately connected through the fetch- or duration-limited wave growth functions. The full set of the triplets can be obtained knowing only one of the three, together with the input of fetch (duration) information using the pair of fetch-limited (duration limited) wave growth functions. The air–sea energy and momentum exchanges are functions of the wind-wave triplets, and they can be quantified with the wind-wave growth functions. Previous studies have shown that the wave development inside hurricanes follows essentially the same growth functions established for steady wind forcing conditions. This paper presents the analysis of wind-wave triplets collected inside Hurricane Bonnie 1998 at category 2 stage along 10 transects radiating from the hurricane center. A fetch model is formulated for any location inside the hurricane. Applying the fetch model to the 2D hurricane wind field, the detailed spatial distribution of the wave field and the associated energy and momentum exchanges inside the hurricane are investigated. For the case studied, the energy and momentum exchanges display two local maxima resulting from different weightings of wave age and wind speed. Referenced to the hurricane heading, the exchanges on the right half plane of the hurricane are much stronger than those on the left half plane. Integrated over the hurricane coverage area, the right-to-left ratio is about 3:1 for both energy and momentum exchanges. Computed exchange rates with and without considering wave properties differ significantly.

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Paul A. Hwang
and
Edward J. Walsh

Abstract

Surface wave propagation inside tropical cyclones (TCs) is complicated and multiple wave systems are frequently observed. The directional wave spectra acquired by hurricane hunters are analyzed to quantify its azimuthal and radial variations. Referenced to the hurricane heading, the dominate feature in the front half of the TC coverage area is single wave systems propagating toward left and left-front. Multiple wave systems are generally observed in the back and right quarters outside the radius of maximum wind (RMW). The directional differences and locations of occurrences of multisystem spectra are Gaussian distributed. The directional differences of the secondary and tertiary wave systems from the primary system are centered around 60°–70°. The minor systems are more likely on the left-hand side of the primary system than on the right-hand side by a 3-to-1 ratio. The most likely azimuthal location of multisystem spectra is about 210° counterclockwise from the heading. In the right-front quarter, waves propagate into the advancing wind field and experience extended air–sea exchanges to grow higher and longer; in the left-rear quarter, they propagate away from the advancing wind field and are more likely younger seas. The radial variation of wave propagation is relatively minor except inside the RMW. A model describing the dominant wave propagation direction is presented. The regression statistics between modeled and measured wave directions show consistent agreement in 9 of the 11 datasets available for investigation. Causes for the significantly different statistics of the two remaining datasets include proximity to coast (a landfalling case) and rapid change in the hurricane translation speed or direction.

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O. M. Phillips
,
Daifang Gu
, and
Edward J. Walsh

Abstract

In a previous paper (Phillips et al.) an approximate theory was developed that predicted that the expected configuration of extreme waves in a random sea (or the average configuration of an ensemble of extreme waves) is proportional to the space-time autocorrelation function of the surface displacement of the wave field as a whole. This result is tested by examination of scanning radar altimeter measurements made during SWADE in four different sea states, including a unimodal mature wave field, a short fetch, a wind-generated sea crossing swell, a very broad directional spectrum, and a fetch-limited wind sea with opposing swell. In each of these, the spatial autocorrelation function was found directly from the SRA data. The highest waves in each dataset were selected and their configurations averaged with respect to the crest. These averaged configurations were in each case found to be consistent with the autocorrelation function.

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Edward J. Walsh
,
C. W. Fairall
, and
Ivan PopStefanija

Abstract

The airborne NOAA Wide Swath Radar Altimeter (WSRA) is a 16-GHz digital beamforming radar altimeter that produces a topographic map of the waves as the aircraft advances. The wave topography is transformed by a two-dimensional FFT into directional wave spectra. The WSRA operates unattended on the aircraft and provides continuous real-time reporting of several data products: 1) significant wave height; 2) directional ocean wave spectra; 3) the wave height, wavelength, and direction of propagation of the primary and secondary wave fields; 4) rainfall rate; and 5) sea surface mean square slope (mss). During hurricane flights the data products are transmitted in real-time from the NOAA WP-3D aircraft through a satellite data link to a ground station and on to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) for use by the forecasters for intensity projections and incorporation in hurricane wave models. The WSRA is the only instrument that can quickly provide high-density measurements of the complex wave topography over a large area surrounding the eye of the storm.

Open access
Il-Ju Moon
,
Isaac Ginis
,
Tetsu Hara
,
Hendrik L. Tolman
,
C. W. Wright
, and
Edward J. Walsh

Abstract

Numerical simulation of sea surface directional wave spectra under hurricane wind forcing was carried out using a high-resolution wave model. The simulation was run for four days as Hurricane Bonnie (1998) approached the U.S. East Coast. The results are compared with buoy observations and NASA Scanning Radar Altimeter (SRA) data, which were obtained on 24 August 1998 in the open ocean and on 26 August when the storm was approaching the shore. The simulated significant wave height in the open ocean reached 14 m, agreeing well with the SRA and buoy observations. It gradually decreased as the hurricane approached the shore. In the open ocean, the dominant wavelength and wave direction in all four quadrants relative to the storm center were simulated very accurately. For the landfall case, however, the simulated dominant wavelength displays noticeable overestimation because the wave model cannot properly simulate shoaling processes. Direct comparison of the model and SRA directional spectra in all four quadrants of the hurricane shows excellent agreement in general. In some cases, the model produces smoother spectra with narrower directional spreading than do the observations. The spatial characteristics of the spectra depend on the relative position from the hurricane center, the hurricane translation speed, and bathymetry. Attempts are made to provide simple explanations for the misalignment between local wind and wave directions and for the effect of hurricane translation speed on wave spectra.

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Wei Chen
,
Michael L. Banner
,
Edward J. Walsh
,
Jorgen B. Jensen
, and
Sunhee Lee

Abstract

The Southern Ocean Waves Experiment (SOWEX) was an international collaborative air–sea interaction experiment in which a specially instrumented meteorological research aircraft simultaneously gathered marine boundary-layer atmospheric turbulence data and sea surface roughness data over the Southern Ocean, particularly for gale-force wind conditions. In this paper analysis and findings are presented on key aspects of the coupled variability of the wind field, the wind stress, and the underlying sea surface roughness. This study complements the overview, methodology, and mean results published in Part I.

Weakly unstable atmospheric stratification conditions prevailed during SOWEX, with wind speeds ranging from gale force to light and variable. Throughout the SOWEX observational period, the wind field was dominated by large-scale atmospheric roll-cell structures, whose height scale was comparable with the thickness of the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL). Well above the sea surface, these coherent structures provide the dominant contribution to the downward momentum flux toward the sea surface. Closer to the sea surface, these organized large-scale structures continued to make significant contributions to the downward momentum flux, even within a few tens of meters of the sea surface.

At the minimum aircraft height, typical cumulative stress cospectra indicated that 10-km averages along crosswind tracks appeared adequate to close the stress cospectrum. Nevertheless, a large-scale spatial inhomogeneity in the wind stress vector was observed using 10- and 20-km spatial averaging intervals on one of the strongest wind days when the mean wind field was close to being spatially uniform. This indicates a departure from the familiar drag coefficient relationship and implies large-scale transverse modulations in the MABL with an effective horizontal to vertical aspect ratio of around 20.

A high visual correlation was found between mean wind speed variations and collocated sea-surface mean square slope (mss) variations, averaged over 1.9 km. A comparable plot of the 10-km running average of the downward momentum flux, observed at heights from 30 to 90 m, showed appreciably lower visual correlation with the wind speed variations and mss variations. The 10–20 km averaging distance needed to determine the wind stress was larger than the local scale of variation of the mss roughness variations. It also exceeded the scale of the striations often observed in synthetic aperture radar imagery under unstable atmospheric conditions and strong wind forcing. This highlights an overlooked intrinsic difficulty in using the friction velocity as the wind parameter in models of the wind wave spectrum, especially for the short wind wave scales.

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Il-Ju Moon
,
Isaac Ginis
,
Tetsu Hara
,
Hendrik L. Tolman
,
C. W. Wright
, and
Edward J. Walsh

Abstract

Numerical simulation of sea surface directional wave spectra under hurricane wind forcing was carried out using a high-resolution wave model. The simulation was run for four days as Hurricane Bonnie (1998) approached the U.S. East Coast. The results are compared with buoy observations and NASA Scanning Radar Altimeter (SRA) data, which were obtained on 24 August 1998 in the open ocean and on 26 August when the storm was approaching the shore. The simulated significant wave height in the open ocean reached 14 m, agreeing well with the SRA and buoy observations. It gradually decreased as the hurricane approached the shore. In the open ocean, the dominant wavelength and wave direction in all four quadrants relative to the storm center were simulated very accurately. For the landfall case, however, the simulated dominant wavelength displays noticeable overestimation because the wave model cannot properly simulate shoaling processes. Direct comparison of the model and SRA directional spectra in all four quadrants of the hurricane shows excellent agreement in general. In some cases, the model produces smoother spectra with narrower directional spreading than do the observations. The spatial characteristics of the spectra depend on the relative position from the hurricane center, the hurricane translation speed, and bathymetry. Attempts are made to provide simple explanations for the misalignment between local wind and wave directions and for the effect of hurricane translation speed on wave spectra.

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Yalin Fan
,
Isaac Ginis
,
Tetsu Hara
,
C. Wayne Wright
, and
Edward J. Walsh

Abstract

The performance of the wave model WAVEWATCH III under a very strong, category 5, tropical cyclone wind forcing is investigated with different drag coefficient parameterizations and ocean current inputs. The model results are compared with field observations of the surface wave spectra from an airborne scanning radar altimeter, National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) time series, and satellite altimeter measurements in Hurricane Ivan (2004). The results suggest that the model with the original drag coefficient parameterization tends to overestimate the significant wave height and the dominant wavelength and produces a wave spectrum with narrower directional spreading. When an improved drag parameterization is introduced and the wave–current interaction is included, the model yields an improved forecast of significant wave height, but underestimates the dominant wavelength. When the hurricane moves over a preexisting mesoscale ocean feature, such as the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico or a warm- and cold-core ring, the current associated with the feature can accelerate or decelerate the wave propagation and significantly modulate the wave spectrum.

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Paul A. Hwang
,
David W. Wang
,
Edward J. Walsh
,
William B. Krabill
, and
Robert N. Swift

Abstract

An airborne scanning lidar system acquires three-dimensional (3D) spatial topography of ocean surface waves. From the spatial data, wavenumber spectra are computed directly. The spectral properties in terms of the spectral slope and dimensionless spectral coefficient have been verified to be in very good agreement with existing data. One of the unique features of the 3D spatial data is its exceptional directional resolution. Directional properties such as the wavenumber dependence of the directional spreading function and the evolution of bimodal development are investigated with these high-resolution, phase-resolving spatial measurements. Equations for the spreading parameters, the lobe angle, and the lobe ratio are established from the airborne scanning lidar datasets. Fourier decomposition of the measured directional distribution is presented. The directional parameters can be represented by a small number (4) of the Fourier components. The measured directional distributions are compared with numerical experiments of nonlinear wave simulations to explore the functional form of the dissipation source term.

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Edward J. Walsh
,
David W. Hancock III
,
Donald E. Hines
,
Robert N. Swift
, and
John F. Scott

Abstract

The Surface Contour Radar (SCR) is a 36-GHz computer-controlled airborne system, which produces ocean directional wave spectra with much higher angular resolution than pitch-and-roll buoys. SCR observations of the evolution of the fetch-limited directional wave spectrum are presented which indicate the existence of a fully-developed sea state. The JONSWAP wave growth model for wave energy and frequency was in best agreement with the SCR measurements. The model of Donelan et al. correctly predicted the propagation direction of waves in the asymmetrical fetch situation nearshore. The Donelan et al. parameterization is generalized to permit other growth algorithms to predict the correct direction of propagation in asymmetrical fetch situations.

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