Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2004

Abstract

Present parameterizations of air–sea momentum flux at high wind speed, including hurricane wind forcing, are based on extrapolation from field measurements in much weaker wind regimes. They predict monotonic increase of drag coefficient (Cd) with wind speed. Under hurricane wind forcing, the present numerical experiments using a coupled ocean wave and wave boundary layer model show that Cd at extreme wind speeds strongly depends on the wave field. Higher, longer, and more developed waves in the right-front quadrant of the storm produce higher sea drag; lower, shorter, and younger waves in the rear-left quadrant produce lower sea drag. Hurricane intensity, translation speed, as well as the asymmetry of wind forcing are major factors that determine the spatial distribution of Cd. At high winds above 30 m s−1, the present model predicts a significant reduction of Cd and an overall tendency to level off and even decrease with wind speed. This tendency is consistent with recent observational, experimental, and theoretical results at very high wind speeds.

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