Drag of the sea surface
- Cite this article as:
- Makin, V.K., Kudryavtsev, V.N. & Mastenbroek, C. Boundary-Layer Meteorol (1995) 73: 159. doi:10.1007/BF00708935
It is shown how the drag of the sea surface can be computed from the wind speed and the sea state. The approach, applicable both for fully developed and for developing seas, is based on conservation of momentum in the boundary layer above the sea, which allows one to relate the drag to the properties of the momentum exchange between the sea waves and the atmosphere.
The total stress is split into two parts: a turbulent part and a wave-induced part. The former is parameterized in terms of mixing-length theory. The latter is calculated by integration of the wave-induced stress over all wave numbers. Usually, the effective roughness is given in terms of the empirical Charnock relation. Here, it is shown how this relation can be derived from the dynamical balance between turbulent and wave-induced stress. To this end, the non-slip boundary conditions is assigned to the wave surface, and the local roughness parameter is determined by the scale of the molecular sublayer.
The formation of the sea drag is then described for fully developed and developing seas and for light to high winds.
For the Charnock constant, a value of about 0.018–0.030 is obtained, depending on the wind input, which is well within the range of experimental data.
It is shown that gravity-capillary waves with a wavelength less than 5 cm play a minor role in the momentum transfer from wind to waves. Most of the momentum is transferred to decimeter and meter waves, so that the drag of developing seas depends crucially on the form of the wave spectrum in the corresponding high wavenumber range.
The dependence of the drag on wave age depends sensitively on the dependence of this high wavenumbertail on wave age. If the tail is wave-age independent, the sea drag appears to be virtually independent of wave age. If the tail depends on wave age, the drag also does. There is contradictory evidence as to the actual dependence. Therefore, additional experiments are needed.
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