Research Article

Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 243-253

First online:

Visualizing near-surface concentration fluctuations using laser-induced fluorescence

  • William E. AsherAffiliated withApplied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington Email author 
  • , Trina M. LitchendorfAffiliated withApplied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington

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A method for observing near-surface fluctuations in pH caused by a water–air flux of carbon dioxide under conditions of ambient atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is developed and tested. Peaks in fluorescence intensity measured as a function of pH and turbulence are shown to be consistent with predictions from a chemical kinetics model of CO2 exchange. The square root of the frequency of the pH fluctuations scale linearly with independently measured bulk air–water gas transfer velocities in agreement with surface divergence models for air–water gas transfer. These data indicate that the method proposed here is tracking changes in near-surface CO2 concentrations. This laser-induced fluorescence method can be used to study the air–water exchange of CO2 in wind-wave tunnels without the need for elevated CO2 concentrations in the gas phase.