Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 134, Issue 3, pp 499–523 | Cite as

Phase-Averaged Flow Properties Beneath Microscale Breaking Waves

  • Kamran SiddiquiEmail author
  • Mark R. Loewen


The phase-averaged characteristics of the turbulent velocity fields beneath steep short wind waves are investigated. A scheme was developed to compute the phase of individual wind waves using spatial surface displacement data. This information was used to analyze the two-dimensional velocity data acquired using particle image velocimetry (PIV) in a wind-wave tank. The experiments were conducted at a fetch of 5.5m and at wind speeds that ranged from 4 to 10ms−1. Under these conditions previous studies have shown that a significant percentage of the waves are microscale breaking waves. An analysis of the phase-averaged results suggests under these conditions (short fetches and moderate wind speeds) a wind-driven water surface can be divided into three regions based on the intensity of the turbulence. These are the crests of microscale breaking waves, the crests of non-breaking waves and the troughs of all waves. The turbulence is most intense beneath the crests of microscale breaking waves. In the crest region of microscale breaking waves coherent structures were observed that were stronger and occurred more frequently than beneath the crests of non-breaking waves. Beneath the crests of non-breaking waves the turbulence is a factor of two to three times weaker and beneath the wave troughs it is a factor of six weaker. These findings provide additional support for the hypothesis that approximately two-thirds of the gas and heat fluxes occur across the turbulent wakes produced by microscale breaking waves.


Air–sea interactions Microscale breaking waves Phase-averaging Turbulence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Materials EngineeringUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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