Ocean Wave Breaking Stirs Up Atmosphere
2013-05-07 0:00

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

Kanye West says in his VMA 2015 speech that he's running for president in 2020
2015-09-01 0:15
'And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.' Kanye West received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at tonight's MTV Video Music Awards, and he closed his acceptance speech by announcing he's running for president in 2020. Yes, really! The segment started with a bang when West was handed his ...
White students in Australia rejecting "multicultural" agenda, this is a problem apparently
2015-09-01 0:03
According to Dr Christina Ho from Sydney’s University of Technology, White Students have not obeyed the command to become “multicultural”. White Students have very rarely mixed with non-White groups, and Dr Ho thinks that this is a problem which must be solved. “Schools are becoming more segregated in terms of both class and ethnicity,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. “More and more ...
Sweden: The De-balling of the Vikings
2015-08-31 23:03
For some reason, the deliberately-injected moral and mental cancer known as 'liberalism', aka 'progressivism' has always seemed to metastasize faster in the Nordic countries, particularly Scandinavian ones. This phenomenon is also observable among the American descendants of Scandinavian immigrants in places like Minnesota and Wisconsin. The hypothesis of this reporter is that the innate, perhaps even genetic, altruism and human ...
New Monsanto Spray Kills Bugs by Messing With Their Genes
2015-08-31 22:49
In a fascinating long piece in MIT Technology Review, Antonio Regalado examines the genetically modified seed industry's latest blockbuster app in development—one that has nothing to do with seeds. Instead, it involves the industry's other bread-and-butter product: pesticide sprays. But we're not talking about the poisonous chemicals you convinced your dad to stop dousing the lawn with. The novel sprays ...
Obama to speak with Jewish groups on Iran deal
2015-08-31 22:16
President Barack Obama is using a Friday webcast to try to allay concerns from Jewish communities about the nuclear agreement with Iran. Obama will deliver remarks about the agreement and take questions from participants. The webcast is being organized by two major Jewish organizations that have held similar events with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The Israeli ...
More News »