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Shuiqing Li, Zhongshui Zou, Dongliang Zhao, and Yijun Hou


Wind stress depends on the sea surface roughness, which can be significantly changed by surface wind waves. Based on observations from a fixed platform, we examined the dependences of the sea surface roughness length on dominant wave characteristic parameters (wave age, wave steepness) at moderate wind speeds and under mixed-wave conditions. No obvious trend was found in the wave steepness dependence of sea surface roughness, but a wave steepness threshold behavior was readily identified in the wave age dependence of sea surface roughness. The influence of dominant wind waves on the surface roughness was illustrated using a wind–wave coupling model. The wave steepness threshold behavior is assumed to be related to the onset of dominant wave breaking. The important role of the interaction between swell and wind wave was highlighted, as swell can absorb energy from locally generated wind wave, which subsequently reduces the wave steepness and the probability of dominant wave breaking.

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Zhongshui Zou, Shuiqing Li, Jian Huang, Peiliang Li, Jinbao Song, Jun A. Zhang, and Zhanhong Wan


Turbulence over the mobile ocean surface has distinct properties compared to turbulence over land. Thus, findings that are based on the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) budget and Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST) over land may not be applicable to conditions over ocean partly because of the existence of a wave boundary layer (the lower part of atmospheric boundary layer including effects of surface waves; we used the term “WBL” in this article for convenience), where the total stress can be separated into turbulent stress and wave coherent stress. Here the turbulent stress is defined as the stress generated by wind shear and buoyancy, while the wave coherent stress accounts for the momentum transfer between ocean waves and atmosphere. In this study, applicability of the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) budget and the inertial dissipation method (IDM) in the context of the MOST within the WBL are examined. It was found that turbulent transport terms in the TKE budget should not be neglected when calculating the total stress under swell conditions. This was confirmed by observations made on a fixed platform. The results also suggested that turbulent stress, rather than total stress, should be used when applying the MOST within the WBL. By combining the TKE budget and MOST, our study showed that the stress computed by the traditional IDM corresponds to the turbulent stress rather than the total stress. The swell wave coherent stress should be considered when applying the IDM to calculate the stress in the WBL.

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Zhongshui Zou, Dongliang Zhao, Jun A. Zhang, Shuiqing Li, Yinhe Cheng, Haibin Lv, and Xin Ma


The anomalous phenomena induced by the prevailing swell at low wind speeds prevent a complete understanding of air–sea interaction processes. Many studies have considered this complex problem, but most have focused on near-neutral conditions. In this study, the influence of the swell on the atmospheric boundary under nonneutral conditions was addressed by extending the turbulent closure models of Makin and Kudryavtsev and the Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST; Monin and Yaglom) to the existence of swell and nonneutral conditions. It was shown that wind profiles derived from these models were consistent with each other and both departed from the traditional MOST. At low wind speeds, a supergeostrophic jet appeared on the upper edge of the wave boundary layer, which was also reported in earlier studies. Under nonneutral conditions, the influence of buoyancy was significant. The slope of the wind profile increased under stable conditions and became smoother under unstable conditions. Considering the effects of buoyancy and swell, the wind stress derived from the model agreed quantitatively with the observations.

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Jian Huang, Zhongshui Zou, Qingcun Zeng, Peiliang Li, Jinbao Song, Lin Wu, Jun A. Zhang, Shuiqing Li, and Pak-wai Chan


The turbulent structure within the marine atmospheric boundary layer is investigated based on four levels of observations at a fixed marine platform. During and before a cold front, the ocean surface is dominated by wind sea and swell waves, respectively, affording the opportunity to test the theory recently proposed in laboratory experiments or for flat land surfaces. The results reveal that the velocity spectra follow a k −1 law within the intermediate wavenumber (k) range immediately below inertial subrange during the cold front. A logarithmic height dependence of the horizontal velocity variances is also observed above the height of 20 m, while the vertical velocity variances increase with increasing height following a power law of 2/3. These features confirm the attached eddy model and the “top-down model” of turbulence over the ocean surface. However, the behavior of velocity variances under swell conditions is much different from those during the cold front, although a remarkable k −1 law can be observed in the velocity spectra. The quadrant analysis of the momentum flux also shows a significantly different result for the two conditions.

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