# Search Results

## You are looking at 1 - 10 of 14 items for

- Author or Editor: Leonel Romero x

- Refine by Access: All Content x

^{ }

^{ }

## Abstract

We present an investigation of the azimuthal bimodality of the wind-wave spectrum for waves shorter than the dominant scale comparing numerical model solutions of developing waves from idealized experiments using WAVEWATCH III (WW3). The wave solutions were forced with the “exact” Webb–Resio–Tracy (WRT) nonlinear energy fluxes and the direct interaction approximation (DIA) with three different combinations of wind input and breaking dissipation parameterizations. The WRT gives larger azimuthal bimodal amplitudes compared to the DIA regardless of wind input/dissipation. The widely used wind input/dissipation parameterizations (i.e., ST4 and ST6) generally give narrow directional distributions with relatively small bimodal amplitudes and lobe separations compared to field measurements. These biases are significantly improved by the breaking dissipation of Romero (R2019). Moreover, the ratio of the resolved cross- to downwind mean square slope is significantly lower for ST4 and ST6 compared to R2019. The overlap integral relevant for the prediction of microseisms is several orders of magnitude smaller for ST4 and ST6 compared to R2019, which nearly agrees with a semiempirical model.

### Significance Statement

Spectral gravity wave models generally cannot accurately predict the directional distribution which impacts their ability to predict the resolved down- and crosswind mean square slopes and the generation of microseisms. Our analysis shows that a directionally narrow spectral energy dissipation, accounting for long-wave–short-wave modulation, can significantly improve the directional distribution of the wind-wave spectrum by coupling to the nonlinear energy fluxes due to wave–wave interactions, which has important implications for improved predictions of the mean square slopes and the generation of microseisms.

## Abstract

We present an investigation of the azimuthal bimodality of the wind-wave spectrum for waves shorter than the dominant scale comparing numerical model solutions of developing waves from idealized experiments using WAVEWATCH III (WW3). The wave solutions were forced with the “exact” Webb–Resio–Tracy (WRT) nonlinear energy fluxes and the direct interaction approximation (DIA) with three different combinations of wind input and breaking dissipation parameterizations. The WRT gives larger azimuthal bimodal amplitudes compared to the DIA regardless of wind input/dissipation. The widely used wind input/dissipation parameterizations (i.e., ST4 and ST6) generally give narrow directional distributions with relatively small bimodal amplitudes and lobe separations compared to field measurements. These biases are significantly improved by the breaking dissipation of Romero (R2019). Moreover, the ratio of the resolved cross- to downwind mean square slope is significantly lower for ST4 and ST6 compared to R2019. The overlap integral relevant for the prediction of microseisms is several orders of magnitude smaller for ST4 and ST6 compared to R2019, which nearly agrees with a semiempirical model.

### Significance Statement

Spectral gravity wave models generally cannot accurately predict the directional distribution which impacts their ability to predict the resolved down- and crosswind mean square slopes and the generation of microseisms. Our analysis shows that a directionally narrow spectral energy dissipation, accounting for long-wave–short-wave modulation, can significantly improve the directional distribution of the wind-wave spectrum by coupling to the nonlinear energy fluxes due to wave–wave interactions, which has important implications for improved predictions of the mean square slopes and the generation of microseisms.

^{ }

^{ }

## Abstract

An analysis of airborne wave observations collected in the Gulf of Tehuantepec is presented. The data include lidar measurements of the surface displacement as a function of two horizontal dimensions in fetch-limited conditions, with fetches between 20 and 500 km and winds between 10 and 20 m s^{−1}. The spatial data have an advantage over the commonly used single-point time series measurements, allowing direct estimates of the wavelength and wave slope, including spatial information such as the lengths of crests exceeding various thresholds. This study presents an analysis of several statistical wind wave parameters, including the joint probability distribution function (pdf) of wave amplitudes and wavelengths; the pdf of wave heights, wavenumber vectors, and wave slopes; as well as the statistics of the lengths of crests exceeding threshold wave heights and slopes. The empirical findings from the lidar data are compared against analytical theories in the literature, including some that had not been tested previously with field data such as the work by M. S. Longuet-Higgins describing the length of contours surrounding large wave heights per unit surface area. The effect of second-order nonlinearities on the distribution of crest lengths per unit surface area is investigated with analytical approximations and stochastic numerical simulations from computed directional wavenumber spectra. The results show that second-order nonlinearities can increase the crest-length distribution of large waves by a factor of 2 or more.

## Abstract

An analysis of airborne wave observations collected in the Gulf of Tehuantepec is presented. The data include lidar measurements of the surface displacement as a function of two horizontal dimensions in fetch-limited conditions, with fetches between 20 and 500 km and winds between 10 and 20 m s^{−1}. The spatial data have an advantage over the commonly used single-point time series measurements, allowing direct estimates of the wavelength and wave slope, including spatial information such as the lengths of crests exceeding various thresholds. This study presents an analysis of several statistical wind wave parameters, including the joint probability distribution function (pdf) of wave amplitudes and wavelengths; the pdf of wave heights, wavenumber vectors, and wave slopes; as well as the statistics of the lengths of crests exceeding threshold wave heights and slopes. The empirical findings from the lidar data are compared against analytical theories in the literature, including some that had not been tested previously with field data such as the work by M. S. Longuet-Higgins describing the length of contours surrounding large wave heights per unit surface area. The effect of second-order nonlinearities on the distribution of crest lengths per unit surface area is investigated with analytical approximations and stochastic numerical simulations from computed directional wavenumber spectra. The results show that second-order nonlinearities can increase the crest-length distribution of large waves by a factor of 2 or more.

^{ }

^{ }

## Abstract

The authors present airborne observations of fetch-limited waves during strong offshore winds in the Gulf of Tehuantepec. The measurements, collected over a wide range of fetches, include one- and two-dimensional surface wavenumber spectra and turbulent fluxes in winds up to 25 m s^{−1}. The evolution of the wave spectra is in good agreement with the fetch relationships from previous observations. The tails of the observed one-dimensional *k*
_{1} spectra, in the dominant wave direction, exhibit a *k*
_{1} spectrum is well parameterized with dependence on the effective fetch and friction velocity. At higher wavenumbers within the saturation range, although the one-dimensional saturation in the dominant wave direction is independent of the wind forcing, the saturation in the crosswind direction is weakly dependent on the effective wave age and on average 30% larger than that in the downwind direction. The results are discussed in the context of previous observations and current numerical wind-wave prediction models.

## Abstract

The authors present airborne observations of fetch-limited waves during strong offshore winds in the Gulf of Tehuantepec. The measurements, collected over a wide range of fetches, include one- and two-dimensional surface wavenumber spectra and turbulent fluxes in winds up to 25 m s^{−1}. The evolution of the wave spectra is in good agreement with the fetch relationships from previous observations. The tails of the observed one-dimensional *k*
_{1} spectra, in the dominant wave direction, exhibit a *k*
_{1} spectrum is well parameterized with dependence on the effective fetch and friction velocity. At higher wavenumbers within the saturation range, although the one-dimensional saturation in the dominant wave direction is independent of the wind forcing, the saturation in the crosswind direction is weakly dependent on the effective wave age and on average 30% larger than that in the downwind direction. The results are discussed in the context of previous observations and current numerical wind-wave prediction models.

^{ }

^{ }

## Abstract

During the Gulf of Tehuantepec Experiment (GOTEX), conducted in February 2004, surface-wave measurements were collected using a scanning lidar [Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM)] on the National Science Foundation (NSF)/NCAR C-130 aircraft during fetch-limited conditions with winds speeds ranging from 10 to 25 m s^{−1}. The authors present direct comparisons between the observed evolution of the wave field and numerical simulations using a parameterization of the wave energy dissipation. For low and intermediate wavenumbers, the dissipation corresponds to the saturation-based parameterization by Alves and Banner. However, at higher wavenumbers, their formulation cannot maintain saturation of the spectrum. Here, the authors use a dissipation term that forces the spectrum to match the empirical degree of saturation and explicitly balances the wind input and the nonlinear energy fluxes. All model simulations were carried out with “exact” computations of the nonlinear energy transfer because of four-wave resonant interactions and two empirical wind input functions. There is a good agreement for the integral parameters between the observations and the simulations, with root-mean-square (rms) errors between 5% and 12%. The tail of the computed omnidirectional wavenumber spectrum *ϕ*(*k*) can be approximated by two ranges: an equilibrium range, where *ϕ* ∝ *k*
^{−5/2}, and a saturation range, where *ϕ* = *B*
*k*
^{−3}, where *B*
*ϕ* overestimates the energy with rms errors between 20% and 50%, and the computed spectra are found to be narrower than the observations by about 10°. Similarly, the modeled bimodal directional distributions, at wavenumbers higher than the spectral peak, exhibit lobe separations and amplitudes that are consistently smaller than the observations. The lobe separation of the bimodal directional distribution for all simulations approximately scales with the square root of the wave age, which is consistent with the observations. The reasons for differences between the measurements and the simulations are discussed.

## Abstract

During the Gulf of Tehuantepec Experiment (GOTEX), conducted in February 2004, surface-wave measurements were collected using a scanning lidar [Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM)] on the National Science Foundation (NSF)/NCAR C-130 aircraft during fetch-limited conditions with winds speeds ranging from 10 to 25 m s^{−1}. The authors present direct comparisons between the observed evolution of the wave field and numerical simulations using a parameterization of the wave energy dissipation. For low and intermediate wavenumbers, the dissipation corresponds to the saturation-based parameterization by Alves and Banner. However, at higher wavenumbers, their formulation cannot maintain saturation of the spectrum. Here, the authors use a dissipation term that forces the spectrum to match the empirical degree of saturation and explicitly balances the wind input and the nonlinear energy fluxes. All model simulations were carried out with “exact” computations of the nonlinear energy transfer because of four-wave resonant interactions and two empirical wind input functions. There is a good agreement for the integral parameters between the observations and the simulations, with root-mean-square (rms) errors between 5% and 12%. The tail of the computed omnidirectional wavenumber spectrum *ϕ*(*k*) can be approximated by two ranges: an equilibrium range, where *ϕ* ∝ *k*
^{−5/2}, and a saturation range, where *ϕ* = *B*
*k*
^{−3}, where *B*
*ϕ* overestimates the energy with rms errors between 20% and 50%, and the computed spectra are found to be narrower than the observations by about 10°. Similarly, the modeled bimodal directional distributions, at wavenumbers higher than the spectral peak, exhibit lobe separations and amplitudes that are consistently smaller than the observations. The lobe separation of the bimodal directional distribution for all simulations approximately scales with the square root of the wave age, which is consistent with the observations. The reasons for differences between the measurements and the simulations are discussed.

^{ }

^{ }

## Abstract

Autonomous Lagrangian Circulation Explorer (ALACE) floats were designed to measure subsurface velocities throughout the global ocean. In order to transmit their data to satellite, they spend 24 h at the ocean surface during each 10–25-day cycle. During this time the floats behave as undrogued drifters. In the Southern Ocean, floats tend to advect downwind and, in accordance with Ekman theory, slightly to the left of the wind during their time at the surface. Mean displacements are likely to carry floats northward and, correspondingly, with each cycle, the Southern Ocean floats will move into warmer water with higher dynamic height. Because of large variability, the northward trend may not be discernible for any single float: in 2 years' worth of 10-day cycles, a typical float will be displaced 100 ± 270 km northward relative to a float that never surfaces. Float surface velocities and wind speed are statistically correlated at the 95% confidence level. Compared with drogued drifters, floats tend to move more rapidly, are advected more strongly downwind, and are more sensitive to changes in wind speed. Regression coefficients estimated from the differences between float and drogued drifter velocities suggest that floats may be used to estimate the mean upper ocean currents in regions where drogued drifter data are not available.

## Abstract

Autonomous Lagrangian Circulation Explorer (ALACE) floats were designed to measure subsurface velocities throughout the global ocean. In order to transmit their data to satellite, they spend 24 h at the ocean surface during each 10–25-day cycle. During this time the floats behave as undrogued drifters. In the Southern Ocean, floats tend to advect downwind and, in accordance with Ekman theory, slightly to the left of the wind during their time at the surface. Mean displacements are likely to carry floats northward and, correspondingly, with each cycle, the Southern Ocean floats will move into warmer water with higher dynamic height. Because of large variability, the northward trend may not be discernible for any single float: in 2 years' worth of 10-day cycles, a typical float will be displaced 100 ± 270 km northward relative to a float that never surfaces. Float surface velocities and wind speed are statistically correlated at the 95% confidence level. Compared with drogued drifters, floats tend to move more rapidly, are advected more strongly downwind, and are more sensitive to changes in wind speed. Regression coefficients estimated from the differences between float and drogued drifter velocities suggest that floats may be used to estimate the mean upper ocean currents in regions where drogued drifter data are not available.

^{ }

^{ }

^{ }

## Abstract

Wave–current interaction can result in significant inhomogeneities of the ocean surface wave field, including modulation of the spectrum, wave breaking rates, and wave statistics. This study presents novel airborne observations from two experiments: 1) the High-Resolution Air–Sea Interaction (HiRes) experiment, with measurements across an upwelling jet off the coast of Northern California, and 2) an experiment in the Gulf of Mexico with measurements of waves interacting with the Loop Current and associated eddies. The significant wave height and slope varies by up to 30% because of these interactions at both sites, whereas whitecap coverage varies by more than an order of magnitude. Whitecap coverage is well correlated with spectral moments, negatively correlated with the directional spreading, and positively correlated with the saturation. Surface wave statistics measured in the Gulf of Mexico, including wave crest heights and lengths of crests per unit surface area, show good agreement with second-order nonlinear approximations, except over a focal area. Similarly, distributions of wave heights are generally bounded by the generalized Boccotti distribution, except at focal regions where the wave height distribution reaches the Rayleigh distribution with a maximum wave height of 2.55 times the significant wave height, which is much larger than the standard classification for extreme waves. However, theoretical distributions of spatial statistics that account for second-order nonlinearities approximately bound the observed statistics of extreme wave elevations. The results are discussed in the context of improved models of breaking and related air–sea fluxes.

## Abstract

Wave–current interaction can result in significant inhomogeneities of the ocean surface wave field, including modulation of the spectrum, wave breaking rates, and wave statistics. This study presents novel airborne observations from two experiments: 1) the High-Resolution Air–Sea Interaction (HiRes) experiment, with measurements across an upwelling jet off the coast of Northern California, and 2) an experiment in the Gulf of Mexico with measurements of waves interacting with the Loop Current and associated eddies. The significant wave height and slope varies by up to 30% because of these interactions at both sites, whereas whitecap coverage varies by more than an order of magnitude. Whitecap coverage is well correlated with spectral moments, negatively correlated with the directional spreading, and positively correlated with the saturation. Surface wave statistics measured in the Gulf of Mexico, including wave crest heights and lengths of crests per unit surface area, show good agreement with second-order nonlinear approximations, except over a focal area. Similarly, distributions of wave heights are generally bounded by the generalized Boccotti distribution, except at focal regions where the wave height distribution reaches the Rayleigh distribution with a maximum wave height of 2.55 times the significant wave height, which is much larger than the standard classification for extreme waves. However, theoretical distributions of spatial statistics that account for second-order nonlinearities approximately bound the observed statistics of extreme wave elevations. The results are discussed in the context of improved models of breaking and related air–sea fluxes.

^{ }

^{ }

^{ }

## Abstract

A semiempirical determination of the spectral dependence of the energy dissipation due to surface wave breaking is presented and then used to propose a model for the spectral dependence of the breaking strength parameter *b*, defined in the O. M. Phillips’s statistical formulation of wave breaking dynamics. The determination of the spectral dissipation is based on closing the radiative transport equation for fetch-limited waves, measured in the Gulf of Tehuantepec Experiment, by using the measured evolution of the directional spectra with fetch, computations of the four-wave resonant interactions, and three models of the wind input source function. The spectral dependence of the breaking strength is determined from the Kleiss and Melville measurements of the breaking statistics and the semiempirical spectral energy dissipation, resulting in *b* = *b*(*k*, *c _{p}
*/

*u*

_{*}), where

*k*is the wavenumber and the parametric dependence is on the wave age,

*c*/

_{p}*u*

_{*}. Guided by these semiempirical results, a model for

*b*(

*k*,

*c*/

_{p}*u*

_{*}) is proposed that uses laboratory data from a variety of sources, which can be represented by

*b*=

*a*(

*S*−

*S*

_{0})

*, where*

^{n}*S*is a measure of the wave slope at breaking,

*a*is a constant,

*S*

_{0}is a threshold slope for breaking, and 2.5 <

*n*< 3 is a power law consistent with inertial wave dissipation scaling and laboratory measurements. The relationship between

*b*(

*S*) in the laboratory and

*b*(

*k*) in the field is based on the relationship between the saturation and mean square slope of the wave field. The results are discussed in the context of wind wave modeling and improved measurements of breaking in the field.

## Abstract

A semiempirical determination of the spectral dependence of the energy dissipation due to surface wave breaking is presented and then used to propose a model for the spectral dependence of the breaking strength parameter *b*, defined in the O. M. Phillips’s statistical formulation of wave breaking dynamics. The determination of the spectral dissipation is based on closing the radiative transport equation for fetch-limited waves, measured in the Gulf of Tehuantepec Experiment, by using the measured evolution of the directional spectra with fetch, computations of the four-wave resonant interactions, and three models of the wind input source function. The spectral dependence of the breaking strength is determined from the Kleiss and Melville measurements of the breaking statistics and the semiempirical spectral energy dissipation, resulting in *b* = *b*(*k*, *c _{p}
*/

*u*

_{*}), where

*k*is the wavenumber and the parametric dependence is on the wave age,

*c*/

_{p}*u*

_{*}. Guided by these semiempirical results, a model for

*b*(

*k*,

*c*/

_{p}*u*

_{*}) is proposed that uses laboratory data from a variety of sources, which can be represented by

*b*=

*a*(

*S*−

*S*

_{0})

*, where*

^{n}*S*is a measure of the wave slope at breaking,

*a*is a constant,

*S*

_{0}is a threshold slope for breaking, and 2.5 <

*n*< 3 is a power law consistent with inertial wave dissipation scaling and laboratory measurements. The relationship between

*b*(

*S*) in the laboratory and

*b*(

*k*) in the field is based on the relationship between the saturation and mean square slope of the wave field. The results are discussed in the context of wind wave modeling and improved measurements of breaking in the field.

^{ }

^{ }

^{ }

^{ }

## Abstract

A set of realistic coastal simulations in California allows for the exploration of surface gravity wave effects on currents (WEC) in an active submesoscale current regime. We use a new method that takes into account the full surface gravity wave spectrum and produces larger Stokes drift than the monochromatic peak-wave approximation. We investigate two high-wave events lasting several days—one from a remotely generated swell and another associated with local wind-generated waves—and perform a systematic comparison between solutions with and without WEC at two submesoscale-resolving horizontal grid resolutions (*dx* = 270 and 100 m). WEC results in the enhancement of open-ocean surface density and velocity gradients when the averaged significant wave height *H*
_{
s
} is relatively large (>4.2 m). For smaller waves, WEC is a minor effect overall. For the remote swell (strong waves and weak winds), WEC maintains submesoscale structures and accentuates the cyclonic vorticity and horizontal convergence skewness of submesoscale fronts and filaments. The vertical enstrophy *ζ*
^{2} budget in cyclonic regions (*ζ*/*f* > 2) reveals enhanced vertical shear and enstrophy production via vortex tilting and stretching. Wind-forced waves also enhance surface gradients, up to the point where they generate a small-submesoscale roll-cell pattern with high vorticity and divergence that extends vertically through the entire mixed layer. The emergence of these roll cells results in a buoyancy gradient sink near the surface that causes a modest reduction in the typically large submesoscale density gradients.

## Abstract

A set of realistic coastal simulations in California allows for the exploration of surface gravity wave effects on currents (WEC) in an active submesoscale current regime. We use a new method that takes into account the full surface gravity wave spectrum and produces larger Stokes drift than the monochromatic peak-wave approximation. We investigate two high-wave events lasting several days—one from a remotely generated swell and another associated with local wind-generated waves—and perform a systematic comparison between solutions with and without WEC at two submesoscale-resolving horizontal grid resolutions (*dx* = 270 and 100 m). WEC results in the enhancement of open-ocean surface density and velocity gradients when the averaged significant wave height *H*
_{
s
} is relatively large (>4.2 m). For smaller waves, WEC is a minor effect overall. For the remote swell (strong waves and weak winds), WEC maintains submesoscale structures and accentuates the cyclonic vorticity and horizontal convergence skewness of submesoscale fronts and filaments. The vertical enstrophy *ζ*
^{2} budget in cyclonic regions (*ζ*/*f* > 2) reveals enhanced vertical shear and enstrophy production via vortex tilting and stretching. Wind-forced waves also enhance surface gradients, up to the point where they generate a small-submesoscale roll-cell pattern with high vorticity and divergence that extends vertically through the entire mixed layer. The emergence of these roll cells results in a buoyancy gradient sink near the surface that causes a modest reduction in the typically large submesoscale density gradients.

^{ }

^{ }

^{ }

^{ }

## Abstract

Surface gravity wave effects on currents (WEC) cause the emergence of Langmuir cells (LCs) in a suite of high horizontal resolution (Δ*x* = 30 m), realistic oceanic simulations in the open ocean of central California. During large wave events, LCs develop widely but inhomogeneously, with larger vertical velocities in a deeper mixed layer. They interact with extant submesoscale currents. A 550-m horizontal spatial filter separates the signals of LCs and of submesoscale and larger-scale currents. The LCs have a strong velocity variance with small density gradient variance, while submesoscale currents are large in both. Using coarse graining, we show that WEC induces a forward cascade of kinetic energy in the upper ocean up to at least a 5-km scale. This is due to strong positive vertical Reynolds stress (in both the Eulerian and the Stokes drift energy production terms) at all resolved scales in the WEC solutions, associated with large vertical velocities. The spatial filter elucidates the role of LCs in generating the shear production on the vertical scale of Stokes drift (10 m), while submesoscale currents affect both the horizontal and vertical energy fluxes throughout the mixed layer (50–80 m). There is a slightly weaker forward cascade associated with nonhydrostatic LCs (by 13% in average) than in the hydrostatic case, but overall the simulation differences are small. A vertical mixing scheme *K*-profile parameterization (KPP) partially augmented by Langmuir turbulence yields wider LCs, which can lead to lower surface velocity gradients compared to solutions using the standard KPP scheme.

## Abstract

Surface gravity wave effects on currents (WEC) cause the emergence of Langmuir cells (LCs) in a suite of high horizontal resolution (Δ*x* = 30 m), realistic oceanic simulations in the open ocean of central California. During large wave events, LCs develop widely but inhomogeneously, with larger vertical velocities in a deeper mixed layer. They interact with extant submesoscale currents. A 550-m horizontal spatial filter separates the signals of LCs and of submesoscale and larger-scale currents. The LCs have a strong velocity variance with small density gradient variance, while submesoscale currents are large in both. Using coarse graining, we show that WEC induces a forward cascade of kinetic energy in the upper ocean up to at least a 5-km scale. This is due to strong positive vertical Reynolds stress (in both the Eulerian and the Stokes drift energy production terms) at all resolved scales in the WEC solutions, associated with large vertical velocities. The spatial filter elucidates the role of LCs in generating the shear production on the vertical scale of Stokes drift (10 m), while submesoscale currents affect both the horizontal and vertical energy fluxes throughout the mixed layer (50–80 m). There is a slightly weaker forward cascade associated with nonhydrostatic LCs (by 13% in average) than in the hydrostatic case, but overall the simulation differences are small. A vertical mixing scheme *K*-profile parameterization (KPP) partially augmented by Langmuir turbulence yields wider LCs, which can lead to lower surface velocity gradients compared to solutions using the standard KPP scheme.

^{ }

^{ }

^{ }

^{ }

^{ }

## Abstract

Knowledge of horizontal relative dispersion in nearshore oceans is important for many applications including the transport and fate of pollutants and the dynamics of nearshore ecosystems. Two-particle dispersion statistics are calculated from millions of synthetic particle trajectories from high-resolution numerical simulations of the Southern California Bight. The model horizontal resolution of 250 m allows the investigation of the two-particle dispersion, with an initial pair separation of 500 m. The relative dispersion is characterized with respect to the coastal geometry, bathymetry, eddy kinetic energy, and the relative magnitudes of strain and vorticity. Dispersion is dominated by the submesoscale, not by tides. In general, headlands are more energetic and dispersive than bays. Relative diffusivity estimates are smaller and more anisotropic close to shore. Farther from shore, the relative diffusivity increases and becomes less anisotropic, approaching isotropy ~10 km from the coast. The degree of anisotropy of the relative diffusivity is qualitatively consistent with that for eddy kinetic energy. The total relative diffusivity as a function of pair separation distance *R* is on average proportional to *R*
^{5/4}. Additional Lagrangian experiments at higher horizontal numerical resolution confirmed the robustness of these results. Structures of large vorticity are preferably elongated and aligned with the coastline nearshore, which may limit cross-shelf dispersion. The results provide useful information for the design of subgrid-scale mixing parameterizations as well as quantifying the transport and dispersal of dissolved pollutants and biological propagules.

## Abstract

Knowledge of horizontal relative dispersion in nearshore oceans is important for many applications including the transport and fate of pollutants and the dynamics of nearshore ecosystems. Two-particle dispersion statistics are calculated from millions of synthetic particle trajectories from high-resolution numerical simulations of the Southern California Bight. The model horizontal resolution of 250 m allows the investigation of the two-particle dispersion, with an initial pair separation of 500 m. The relative dispersion is characterized with respect to the coastal geometry, bathymetry, eddy kinetic energy, and the relative magnitudes of strain and vorticity. Dispersion is dominated by the submesoscale, not by tides. In general, headlands are more energetic and dispersive than bays. Relative diffusivity estimates are smaller and more anisotropic close to shore. Farther from shore, the relative diffusivity increases and becomes less anisotropic, approaching isotropy ~10 km from the coast. The degree of anisotropy of the relative diffusivity is qualitatively consistent with that for eddy kinetic energy. The total relative diffusivity as a function of pair separation distance *R* is on average proportional to *R*
^{5/4}. Additional Lagrangian experiments at higher horizontal numerical resolution confirmed the robustness of these results. Structures of large vorticity are preferably elongated and aligned with the coastline nearshore, which may limit cross-shelf dispersion. The results provide useful information for the design of subgrid-scale mixing parameterizations as well as quantifying the transport and dispersal of dissolved pollutants and biological propagules.