Observation of swell dissipation across oceans

Type Publication
Date 2009-03
Language English
Copyright 2009 American Geophysical Union
Author(s) Ardhuin FabriceORCID1, Chapron Bertrand2, Collard Fabrice3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Serv Hydrog & Oceanog Marine, F-29609 Brest, France.
2 : IFREMER, Ctr Brest, Lab Oceanog Spatiale, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
3 : Collecte Localisat Satellites, Div Radar, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Source Geophysical Research Letters ( GRL ) (0094-8276) (American Geophysical Union), 2009-03 , Vol. 36 , N. L06607 , P. 1-5
DOI 10.1029/2008GL037030
WOS© Times Cited 108
Abstract Global observations of ocean swell, from satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar data, are used to estimate the dissipation of swell energy for a number of storms. Swells can be very persistent with energy e-folding scales exceeding 20,000 km. For increasing swell steepness this scale shrinks systematically, down to 2800 km for the steepest observed swells, revealing a significant loss of swell energy. This value corresponds to a normalized energy decay in time beta = 4.2 x 10(-6) s(-1). Many processes may be responsible for this dissipation. The increase of dissipation rate in dissipation with swell steepness is interpreted as a laminar to turbulent transition of the boundary layer, with a threshold Reynolds number of the order of 100,000. These observations of swell evolution open the way for more accurate wave forecasting models, and provide a constraint on swell-induced air-sea fluxes of momentum and energy. Citation: Ardhuin, F., B. Chapron, and F. Collard (2009), Observation of swell dissipation across oceans, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L06607, doi: 10.1029/2008GL037030.
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