EGU2020-22561, updated on 08 Jun 2023
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Impact of Wind Gusts on the Ocean Thermal Skin Layer by Capillary-Gravity Waves

Christopher J Zappa1, Nathan Laxague1, Sophia Brumer2, and Steven Anderson3
Christopher J Zappa et al.
  • 1Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, USA
  • 2Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, UMR 6523 IFREMER-CNRS-IRD-UBO, Plouzané, FR
  • 3Areté Associates, Arlington, VA, USA

The thermodynamic and emissive properties of the ocean thermal skin layer are crucial contributors to air-sea heat flux. In order to properly observe ocean surface temperature without disturbing any delicate fluid mechanical processes, thermal infrared imaging is often used. However, wind impacting the ocean surface complicates the extraction of meaningful information from thermal imagery; this is especially true for transient forcing phenomena such as wind gusts. Here, we describe wind gust-water surface interaction through its impact on skin layer thermal and emissive properties. Two key physical processes are identified: (1) the growth of centimeter-scale wind waves, which increases interfacial emissivity and (2) microscale wave breaking and shear, which mix the cool skin layer with warmer millimeter-depth water and increase the skin temperature. As more observations are made of air-sea interaction under transient forcing, the full consideration of these processes becomes increasingly important.

How to cite: Zappa, C. J., Laxague, N., Brumer, S., and Anderson, S.: The Impact of Wind Gusts on the Ocean Thermal Skin Layer by Capillary-Gravity Waves, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22561,, 2020.