On the Variation of the Effective Breaking Strength in Oceanic Sea States

Zappa, Christopher J.; Banner, Michael L.; Morison, Russel P.; Brumer, Sophia Eleonora

A spectral framework for quantifying the geometric/kinematic and dynamic/energetic properties of breaking ocean waves was proposed by Phillips in 1985. Phillips assumed a constant breaking strength coefficient to link the kinematic/geometric breaking crest properties to the associated excess energy and momentum fluxes from the waves to the upper ocean. However, a scale-dependent (spectral) breaking strength coefficient is needed, but is unavailable from measurements. In this paper, the feasibility of a parametric mean effective breaking strength coefficient valid for a wide range of sea states is investigated. All available ocean breaking wave datasets were analyzed and complemented with wave model behavior. Robust evidence is found supporting a single linear parameter relationship between the effective breaking strength and wave age or significant wave steepness. Envisaged applications for the effective breaking strength are described.


Also Published In

Journal of Physical Oceanography

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Ocean and Climate Physics
American Meteorological Society
Published Here
July 1, 2016