Surface wave observations during CoOP experiments and their relation to air-sea gas transfer

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Gas exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere is strongly influenced by physical processes in the near-surface waters. Surface waves are particularly important for gas fluxes because they enable faster transfer of gases across the diffusive sublayer by causing more frequent renewal of the skin layer. During the CoOP air-sea gas exchange experiments (1995; 1997), we obtained one of the most comprehensive data sets of physical processes at the air-sea interface in both near-shore and off-shore waters. During these experiments simultaneous measurements of short wind waves, surface films, wind stress, and transfer velocity were made from a towed or self-propelled catamaran with a wide range of wind stress and with varying surface film conditions. The results show that the wave spectra at higher wavenum-bers are significantly reduced by surfactant at wind friction velocities below 0.2 m s-1. The surfactant effect may be quantified using the surface enrichment (difference between the CDOM fluorescence in microlayers and that in bulk water) with reasonable accuracy. During rain events the wave spectra are raised at higher wavenumbers (above 200 rad m-1) but are not affected at 100 rad m-1. The surfactant effect is also reduced during rain. The air-sea gas transfer velocity is roughly proportional to the wave spectra at higher wavenumbers but appears to be less sensitive to spectra of longer waves.

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Geophysical Monograph Series