TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 53 (No. 1), pp. 67-80, 1997

The “Slip Law” of the Free Surface

G. T. Csanady

Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529-0276, U.S.A.

(Received 28 December 1995; accepted 17 June 1996)

Abstract: A "slip law" connects the excess velocity or "slip" of a wind-blown water surface, relative to the motion in the middle of the mixed layer, to the wind stress, the wind-wave field, and buoyancy flux. An inner layer-outer layer model of the turbulent shear flow in the mixed layer is appropriate, as for a turbulent boundary layer or Ekman layer over a solid surface, allowing, however, for turbulent kinetic energy transfer from the air-side via breaking waves, and for Stokes drift. Asymptotic matching of the velocity distributions in inner and outer portions of the mixed layer yields a slip law of logarithmic form, akin to the drag law of a turbulent boundary layer. The dominant independent variable is the ratio of water-side roughness length to mixed layer depth or turbulent Ekman depth. Convection due to surface cooling is also an important influence, reducing surface slip. Water-side roughness length is a wind-wave property, varying with wind speed similarly to air-side roughness. Slip velocity is typically 20 times water-side friction velocity or 3% of wind speed, varying within a range of about 2 to 4.5%. A linearized model of turbulent kinetic energy distribution shows much higher values near the surface than in a wall layer. Nondimensional dissipation peaks at a value of about eight, a short distance below the surface.


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