Estimation of kinetic energy dissipation from breaking waves in the wave crest region

J. H. Lee, J. P. Monty, J. Elsnab, A. Toffoli, A. V. Babanin, A. Alberello

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Wave-induced turbulence due to breaking in the absence of surface shear stresses is investigated experimentally. A high-fidelity particle image velocimetry (PIV) technique is used to measure the turbulence near the water surface, inside the wave crests. The spatial velocity vector fields of the breaking waves acquired from PIV provide accurate vertical velocity profiles near the air-water interface, as well as wavenumber velocity spectra beneath the breaking waves at different depths. These velocity spectra exhibit a Kolmogorov interval at high wavenumbers, indicating the presence of isotropic turbulence and permitting an estimation of energy dissipation rates. The depth dependence of dissipation rates of the breaking waves generated in the laboratory shows a scaling similar to that found in wind-forced breaking waves in the field. A phase dependence in the dissipation rates of turbulence kinetic energy is also observed, which should be considered to improve the accuracy of the estimated and modeled wave energy dissipation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1150
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • Kinetic energy
  • Turbulence
  • Wave breaking
  • Wind stress

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