Articles | Volume 21, issue 1
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 21, 325–338, 2014

Special issue: Nonlinear processes of Air-Sea/Land interaction: from observations...

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 21, 325–338, 2014

Research article 27 Feb 2014

Research article | 27 Feb 2014

One-dimensional modelling of upper ocean mixing by turbulence due to wave orbital motion

M. Ghantous and A. V. Babanin M. Ghantous and A. V. Babanin
  • Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia

Abstract. Mixing of the upper ocean affects the sea surface temperature by bringing deeper, colder water to the surface. Because even small changes in the surface temperature can have a large impact on weather and climate, accurately determining the rate of mixing is of central importance for forecasting. Although there are several mixing mechanisms, one that has until recently been overlooked is the effect of turbulence generated by non-breaking, wind-generated surface waves.

Lately there has been a lot of interest in introducing this mechanism into ocean mixing models, and real gains have been made in terms of increased fidelity to observational data. However, our knowledge of the mechanism is still incomplete. We indicate areas where we believe the existing parameterisations need refinement and propose an alternative one.

We use two of the parameterisations to demonstrate the effect on the mixed layer of wave-induced turbulence by applying them to a one-dimensional mixing model and a stable temperature profile. Our modelling experiment suggests a strong effect on sea surface temperature due to non-breaking wave-induced turbulent mixing.