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Atmosphere-Ocean Interaction$
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Eric B. Kraus and Joost A. Businger

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780195066180

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195066180.001.0001

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Turbulent Transfer Near the Interface

Turbulent Transfer Near the Interface

(p.137) 5 Turbulent Transfer Near the Interface
Atmosphere-Ocean Interaction

Eric B. Kraus

Joost A. Businger

Oxford University Press

The atmosphere and the ocean are in intimate contact at their interface, where momentum, water substance, heat, and trace constituents are exchanged. This exchange is often modest when a light breeze strokes the surface; sometimes the processes are violent, when gale force winds sweep up ocean spray into the atmosphere and when braking waves engulf air into the ocean. It may even appear that the transition between ocean and atmosphere becomes gradual and indistinct. The transition from ocean to atmosphere is usually an abrupt transition of one fluid to another. The interface may then be considered a continuous material surface. On both sides of the interface the fluids are usually in turbulent motion and properties are transported readily, but upon approaching the interface turbulence is largely suppressed so that on both sides of the interface a very thin layer exists where the molecular diffusion coefficients play a major role in the transport. The interface is consequently a significant barrier to the transport from ocean to atmosphere and vice versa, with little or no turbulent transport of scalar quantities across it. The quantitative determination of the thickness of the molecular sublayers and the strength of the gradients and shear layers within them are discussed in Section 5.1. We also examine the transition from the molecular sublayers to the well-mixed turbulent layers that exist beyond them, and the structure of these turbulent layers on either side of the interface. In Section 5.2 we discuss the effect of stratification on the structure of these surface layers. Some of the nonstationary interactions between the wind and the sea surface are described in Section 5.3. Sections 5.4 and 5.5 deal with practical applications: a formulation of gas transfer across the interface and of the sea surface temperature. Several observational techniques are discussed in Section 5.6.

Keywords:   Bulk temperature, Dissipation method, Eddy correlation method, Fetch, Gradient method, Humidity profile, Kansas experiment, Logarithmic wind profile, Molecular sublayers

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