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

Gunman Storms Dutch TV Station Demanding Airtime
2015-01-30 23:32
Dutch authorities have released few details about the bizarre case of 19-year-old Tarik Zahzah’s attack on the main news studio of television station NOS on Thursday. To get the obvious question out of the way first, the police say there is no evidence that Zahzah, who is half-Egyptian, acted on behalf of organized terrorism. The authorities always say that on the ...
How Alan Dershowitz bullied rape victims to protect a serial child molester
2015-01-30 23:40
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz always felt children were fair game for Israeli missiles. Now the question is whether he thinks they are fair game for the sexual exploits of his powerful associates and himself. Dershowitz and the UK’s Prince Andrew were accused in a recent court filing of raping a teenage girl who was forced into sexual slavery by ...
Alchemical Banksters
2015-01-30 22:39
This past week, the world's preeminent vultures, the economic power elite, met in Davos to discuss the maintenance of their global fiat hegemony. Highlights included furthering austerity, noting that the serf class can't have air conditioning and cars, as well as cheering on the death of privacy through the rise of technocracy. The degenerate elite, completely out of touch with ...
Men must prove a woman said ’Yes’ under tough new rape rules
2015-01-30 4:54
New guidance will be issued to all police forces and prosecutors as part of a ’toolkit’ to move rape investigations into the 21st century Men accused of date rape will need to convince police that a woman consented to sex as part of a major change in the way sex offences are investigated. The Director of Public Prosecutions said it was ...
4 beheaded in Saudi Arabia less than a week into King Salman's rule
2015-01-30 3:13
Comment: So when will the the "Human rights" promoting liberal west elite decide invade Saudi Arabia like they did Libya? Members of Magic Movement stage a mock execution scene in protest of Saudi Arabia beheading of eight Bangladeshi workers in October 2011. Four people have been executed in Saudi Arabia less than a week after 79-year-old King Salman assumed power following the ...
More News »