Ocean Wave Breaking Stirs Up Atmosphere
2013 05 07

From: Physics

Simulations show that breaking ocean waves contribute most of their energy to the air, rather than the water, which could affect cloud formation and climate evolution.

Ocean waves breaking far from land often stir up significant motion in the atmosphere, according to simulations published in Physical Review Letters. This finding, based on the most accurate and computationally intensive model to date, contradicts the previous belief among experts, that most of the energy from breaking waves remains in the water. The results could help researchers improve wave forecasting models, which are a component of weather and climate modeling.

In the absence of storms, waves on the open ocean arise from wind blowing over the water. Through a process known as modulation instability, one of the waves in a group can begin stealing energy from its neighbors, eventually growing so steep that it breaks. This process may be responsible for a large fraction of all wave breaking, so researchers want an accurate picture of it, to understand the energy flow between the atmosphere and the ocean. But previous attempts to simulate such wave breaking have relied on relatively simple models that ignored potentially important effects, like the viscosity of water and interactions between water and air. One consequence of this lack of air-water interaction was that any energy released by wave breaking remained entirely in the water.

[...]


To their surprise, the researchers found that about three-quarters of the breaking wave’s energy ended up in the air. Much of this energy went into vortices, or pockets of rotating air, above the ocean surface. These vortices formed counter-rotating pairs known as vortex dipoles that were then launched to heights of up to 200 meters. Such vortices could transport tiny water droplets known as aerosols into the atmosphere, where they could seed clouds. Onorato finds this possibility “the most intriguing part” of his team’s results, because it could change weather forecasters’ understanding of cloud formation. And since clouds absorb incoming sunlight as well as thermal radiation from the Earth, the results may also affect climate modeling.

Read the full article at: physics.aps.org




Related Articles
Bizarre Star-Shaped Gravity Waves Created
Sonic Art – German Audio-Visual Artist Makes Pictures from Sound Waves
Pendulum Waves - Simple Harmonic (and non-harmonic) Motion
Giant ocean whirlpools puzzle scientists - 2011


Latest News from our Front Page

US Silent on Psychologists Role in CIA’s Tortures: Doctors
2014-12-20 21:53
Physicians for Human Rights had not received any response from the US Federal Commission to their call to investigate the role of health professionals in CIA’s torture program, Deputy Director of the organization told Sputnik. December 19 (Sputnik) — US government has not responded to calls to prosecute doctors, who participated in CIA torture program, the Deputy Director of Communications for ...
Ziolebrities: Simon Cowell donates £100,000 to Israeli soldiers to please pregnant jewish girlfriend Lauren Silverman
2014-12-20 21:00
Cowell, 54, is also planning a secret trip to Israel soon as he embraces the Jewish faith of Silverman, 36 Gala: Billionaire Haim Saban with Cowell Simon Cowell has publicly donated nearly £100,000 in support of the Israeli army. The X Factor boss pledged the cash to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces at a US fund-raiser in Beverly Hills. The lavish gala ...
Former Chief Security Officer for NewsCorp: N. Koreans Not Behind Sony Hack, Interview Leak
2014-12-20 2:17
Hemanshu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor and former chief security officer for NewsCorp/Fox studios, says North Korea isn’t behind the Sony Hack. Nigam gave several bullet points for why the hack was likely an inside job. Attack code borrowed from a previous attack on Seoul, that’s why it’s in Korean. Private hackers typically borrow malicious code from other hackers.Nations state attacks follow ...
Sony Fires Back at Obama: Actually We Did Call the White House – Several Times
2014-12-20 2:13
Sony fired back at Obama after the press conference saying they had several conversations with the Obama White House before and after the movie was canceled. Via The Hollywood Reporter: After President Obama criticized Sony for its decision to cancel The Interview's release after theater chains decided not to show the film, the studio has issued a statement elaborating on the move. “The ...
The Bankster International
2014-12-20 1:55
Geopolitical analysis, the art of explaining power relationships through the prism of impersonal geography, can be a helpful tool for observers of the Great Game – but it also has its limitations. A case in point is the renewed US-Russia confrontation. Think tanks and policy insiders easily sell the narrative that from the dark days of the Cold War to ...
More News »