, Volume 138, Issue 3, pp 433-451
Date: 13 Nov 2010

The intOA Experiment: A Study of Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions Under Moderate to Strong Offshore Winds and Opposing Swell Conditions in the Gulf of Tehuantepec, Mexico

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Abstract

The Gulf of Tehuantepec air–sea interaction experiment (intOA) took place from February to April 2005, under the Programme for the Study of the Gulf of Tehuantepec (PEGoT, Spanish acronym for Programa para el Estudio del Golfo de Tehuantepec). PEGoT is underway aiming for better knowledge of the effect of strong and persistent offshore winds on coastal waters and their natural resources, as well as performing advanced numerical modelling of the wave and surface current fields. One of the goals of the intOA experiment is to improve our knowledge on air–sea interaction processes with particular emphasis on the effect of surface waves on the momentum flux for the characteristic and unique conditions that occur when strong Tehuano winds blow offshore against the Pacific Ocean long period swell. For the field campaign, an air–sea interaction spar (ASIS) buoy was deployed in the Gulf of Tehuantepec to measure surface waves and the momentum flux between the ocean and the atmosphere. High frequency radar systems (phase array type) were in operation from two coastal sites and three acoustic Doppler current profilers were deployed near-shore. Synthetic aperture radar images were also acquired as part of the remote sensing component of the experiment. The present paper provides the main results on the wave and wind fields, addressing the direct calculation of the momentum flux and the drag coefficient, and gives an overview of the intOA experiment. Although the effect of swell has been described in recent studies, this is the first time for the very specific conditions encountered, such as swell persistently opposing offshore winds and locally generated waves, to show a clear evidence of the influence on the wind stress of the significant steepness of swell waves.