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Dissipation regimes for short wind waves

Abstract : The dissipation processes affecting short wind waves of centimeter and decimeter scales are investigated experimentally in laboratory. The processes include damping due to molecular viscosity, generation of capillary waves, microbreaking, and breaking. The observations were made in a large wind wave tank for a wide range of fetches and winds, using a laser sheet and a high-resolution video camera. The work aims at constructing a comprehensive picture of dissipative processes in the short wind wave field, to find for which scales particular dissipative mechanism may become important. Four distinct regimes have been identified. For capillary-gravity wave fields, i.e., for dominant waves with scales below 4 cm, viscous damping is found to be the main dissipation mechanism. The gravity-capillary wave fields with dominant wavelength less than 10 cm usually exhibit a train of capillary ripples at the crest wavefront, but no wave breaking. For such waves, the main dissipation process is molecular viscosity occurring through nonlinear energy cascade toward high-frequency motions. Microscale breaking takes place for waves longer than 10 cm and manifests itself in a very localized surface disruption on the forward face of the crest. Such events generate turbulent motions in water and thus enhance wave dissipation. Plunging breaking, characterized by formation of a crest bulge, a microjet hitting the water surface and a splash-up, occurs for short gravity waves of wavelength exceeding 20 cm. Macroscale spilling breaking is also observed for longer waves at high winds. In both cases, the direct momentum transfer from breaking waves to the water flow contributes significantly to wave damping.
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Last modification on : Saturday, June 25, 2022 - 11:23:20 AM
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Guillemette Caulliez. Dissipation regimes for short wind waves. Journal of Geophysical Research. Oceans, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, 118, pp.672-684. ⟨10.1029/2012JC008402⟩. ⟨insu-03621063⟩

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