Impact of Langmuir Turbulence on Upper Ocean Response to Hurricane Edouard: Model and Observations

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Tropical cyclone intensity is strongly affected by the air-sea heat flux beneath the storm. When strong storm winds enhance upper ocean turbulent mixing and entrainment of colder water from below the thermocline, the resulting sea surface temperature cooling may reduce the heat flux to the storm and weaken the storm. Recent studies suggest that this upper ocean turbulence is strongly affected by different sea states (Langmuir turbulence), which are highly complex and variable in tropical cyclone conditions. In this study, the upper ocean response under Hurricane Edouard (2014) is investigated using a coupled ocean-wave model with and without an explicit sea state dependent Langmuir turbulence parameterization. The results are compared with in situ observations of sea surface temperature and mixed layer depth from AXBTs, as well as satellite sea surface temperature observations. Overall, the model results of mixed layer deepening and sea surface temperature cooling under and behind the storm are consistent with observations. The model results show that the effects of sea state dependent Langmuir turbulence can be significant, particularly on the mixed layer depth evolution. Although available observations are not sufficient to confirm such effects, some observed trends suggest that the sea state dependent parameterization might be more accurate than the traditional (sea state independent) parameterization.

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans