Wind-wave misalignment effects on Langmuir turbulence in tropical cyclones conditions

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This study utilizes a large eddy simulation (LES) approach to systematically assess the directional variability of wave‹driven Langmuir turbulence (LT) in the ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL) under tropical cyclones (TCs). The Stokes drift vector, which drives LT through the Craik‹Leibovich vortex force, is obtained through spectral wave simulations. LT's direction is identified by horizontally elongated turbulent structures and objectively determined from horizontal autocorrelations of vertical velocities. In spite of TC's complex forcing with great wind and wave misalignments, this study finds that LT is approximately aligned with the wind. This is because the Reynolds stress and the depth‹averaged Lagrangian shear (Eulerian plus Stokes drift shear) that are key in determining the LT intensity (determined by normalized depth-averaged vertical velocity variances) and direction, are also approximately aligned with the wind relatively close to the surface. A scaling analysis of the momentum budget suggests that the Reynolds stress is approximately constant over a near surface layer with predominant production of LT, which is confirmed from the LES results. In this layer, Stokes drift shear, which dominates the Lagrangian shear, is aligned with the wind because of relatively short, wind‹driven waves. On the contrary, Stokes drift exhibits considerable amount of misalignments with the wind. This wind‹wave misalignment reduces LT intensity, consistent with a simple turbulent kinetic energy model. Our analysis shows that both the Reynolds stress and LT are aligned with the wind for different reasons: the former is dictated by the momentum budget, while the latter is controlled by wind‹forced waves.

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Journal of Physical Oceanography