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Rain-induced turbulence and air-sea gas transfer

Zappa, Christopher J.; Ho, David T.; Banner, Michael L.; McGillis, Wade R.; Dacey, John W. H.; Bliven, Larry F.; Ma, Barry; Nystuen, Jeff

Results from a rain and gas exchange experiment (Bio2 RainX III) at the Biosphere 2 Center demonstrate that turbulence controls the enhancement of the air-sea gas transfer rate (or velocity) k during rainfall, even though profiles of the turbulent dissipation rate equation image are strongly influenced by near-surface stratification. The gas transfer rate scales with equation image for a range of rain rates with broad drop size distributions. The hydrodynamic measurements elucidate the mechanisms responsible for the rain-enhanced k results using SF6 tracer evasion and active controlled flux technique. High-resolution k and turbulence results highlight the causal relationship between rainfall, turbulence, stratification, and air-sea gas exchange. Profiles of ɛ beneath the air-sea interface during rainfall, measured for the first time during a gas exchange experiment, yielded discrete values as high as 10−2 W kg−1. Stratification modifies and traps the turbulence near the surface, affecting the enhancement of the transfer velocity and also diminishing the vertical mixing of mass transported to the air-water interface. Although the kinetic energy flux is an integral measure of the turbulent input to the system during rain events, ɛ is the most robust response to all the modifications and transformations to the turbulent state that follows. The Craig-Banner turbulence model, modified for rain instead of breaking wave turbulence, successfully predicts the near-surface dissipation profile at the onset of the rain event before stratification plays a dominant role. This result is important for predictive modeling of k as it allows inferring the surface value of ɛ fundamental to gas transfer.

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Also Published In

Title
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1029/2008JC005008

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Geochemistry
Publisher
American Geophysical Union
Published Here
February 23, 2016