Effects of Bubbles and Sea Spray on Air–Sea Exchange in Hurricane Conditions
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The lower limit on the drag coefficient under hurricane force winds is determined by the break-up of the air–sea interface due to Kelvin–Helmholtz instability and formation of the two-phase transition layer consisting of sea spray and air bubbles. As a consequence, a regime of marginal stability develops. In this regime, the air–sea drag coefficient is determined by the turbulence characteristics of the two-phase transition layer. The upper limit on the drag coefficient is determined by the Charnock-type wave resistance. Most of the observational estimates of the drag coefficient obtained in hurricane conditions and in laboratory experiments appear to lie between the two extreme regimes: wave resistance and marginal stability.
KeywordsAir–sea interface Drag coefficient Hurricane Kelvin–Helmholtz instability Marginal stability
The authors are grateful to Vladimir Kudryavtsev (Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center) and Mark Donelan (University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmosphere Science) for discussions of the problem of air–sea interactions under high wind-speed conditions. Alexander Soloviev acknowledges support from the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center project ‘Hydrodynamics and remoter sensing of far wakes of ships’. Roger Lukas has been supported by National Science Foundation grant OCE-0752606.
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