Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2010

Abstract

In coupled ocean–atmosphere models, it is usually assumed that the momentum flux into ocean currents is equal to the flux from air (wind stress). However, when the surface wave field grows (decays) in space or time, it gains (loses) momentum and reduces (increases) the momentum flux into subsurface currents compared to the flux from the wind. In particular, under tropical cyclone (TC) conditions the surface wave field is complex and fast varying in space and time and may significantly affect the momentum flux from wind into ocean. In this paper, numerical experiments are performed to investigate the momentum flux budget across the air–sea interface under both uniform and idealized TC winds. The wave fields are simulated using the WAVEWATCH III model. The difference between the momentum flux from wind and the flux into currents is estimated using an air–sea momentum flux budget model. In many of the experiments, the momentum flux into currents is significantly reduced relative to the flux from the wind. The percentage of this reduction depends on the choice of the drag coefficient parameterization and can be as large as 25%. For the TC cases, the reduction is mainly in the right-rear quadrant of the hurricane, and the percentage of the flux reduction is insensitive to the changes of the storm size and the asymmetry in the wind field but varies with the TC translation speed and the storm intensity. The results of this study suggest that it is important to explicitly resolve the effect of surface waves for accurate estimations of the momentum flux into currents under TCs.

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