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Data from: Observations of strongly modulated surface wave and wave breaking statistics at a submesoscale front
Lenain, Luc
Date Created and/or Issued
Contributing Institution
UC San Diego, Research Data Curation Program
Data from: Observations of strongly modulated surface wave and wave breaking statistics at a submesoscale front
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Under copyright
Constraint(s) on Use: This work is protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). Use of this work beyond that allowed by "fair use" or any license applied to this work requires written permission of the copyright holder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and any use and distribution of this work rests exclusively with the user and not the UC San Diego Library. Inquiries can be made to the UC San Diego Library program having custody of the work.
Use: This work is available from the UC San Diego Library. This digital copy of the work is intended to support research, teaching, and private study.
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UC Regents
This collection contains data presented in Vrecica et al 2021. The presented data covers: 1) An overview of a submesoscale front, including sea surface temperature and percentage of whitecap coverage. 2) Wave statistics, including omnidirectional and directional spectra, and Stokes drift. 3) Wave breaking statistics, including distributions of breaking wave length, breaking induced drift, and momentum flux due to breaking. Abstract: Ocean submesoscale currents, with spatial scales on the order of 0.1 to 10 km, are horizontally divergent flows, leading to vertical motions that are crucial for modulating the fluxes of mass, momentum and energy between the ocean and the atmosphere, with important implications for biological and chemical processes. Recently, there has been considerable interest in the role of surface waves in modifying frontal dynamics. However, there is a crucial lack of observations of these processes, which are needed to constrain and guide theoretical and numerical models. To this end, we present novel high resolution airborne remote sensing and in situ observations of wave-current interaction at a submesoscale front near the island of O'ahu, Hawaii. We find strong modulation of the surface wave field across the frontal boundary, including enhanced wave breaking, that leads to significant spatial inhomogeneities in the wave and wave breaking statistics. The non-breaking (i.e. Stokes) and breaking induced drifts are shown to be amplified at the boundary by approximately 50% and a factor of ten, respectively. The momentum flux from the wave field to the water column due to wave breaking is enhanced by an order of magnitude at the front. Using an orthogonal coordinate system that is tangent and normal to the front, we show that these sharp modulations occur over a distance of several meters in the direction normal to the front. Finally, we discuss these observations in the context of improved coupled models of air-sea interaction at a submesoscale front.
This research was supported by grants from the Physical Oceanography programs at ONR (Grants N00014-17-1-2171, N00014-14-1-0710, and N00014-17-1-3005) NSF (OCE; Grant OCE-1634289), and NASA (Grant 80NSSC19K1688).
Research Data Curation Program, UC San Diego, La Jolla, 92093-0175 (
Lenain, Luc; Vrecica, Teodor; Pizzo, Nick; Statom, Nick (2021). Data from: Observations of strongly modulated surface wave and wave breaking statistics at a submesoscale front. UC San Diego Library Digital Collections.
Wave-current interactions
Wave breaking
Oahu (Hawaii)
Oahu (Hawaii)

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