TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography
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Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 61 (No. 1), pp. 141-154, 2005

Air-Sea Interactions under the Existence of Opposing Swell

Hisashi Mitsuyasu1* and Yoshikazu Yoshida2

1Professor Emeritus of Kyushu University
2Japan Port Consultants, Fukuoka 812-0014, Japan

(Received 26 February 2004; in revised form 11 May 2004; accepted 17 May 2004)

Abstract: Data of a comprehensive laboratory study on the coexistent system of wind waves and opposing swell (Mitsuyasu and Yoshida, 1989) have been reanalyzed to clarify the air-sea interaction phenomena under the coexistence of wind waves and swell. It is shown that the magnitude of the decay rate of swell due to an opposing wind is almost the same as that of the growth rate of swell caused by a following wind, as measured by Mitsuyasu and Honda (1982). The decay rate is much smaller than that obtained recently by Peirson et al. (2003), but the reason for the disagreement is not clear at present. The effect of an opposing swell on wind waves is very different from that of a following swell; wind waves are intensified by an opposing swell while they are attenuated by a following one. The phenomenon contradicts the model of Phillips and Banner (1974), but the reason for this is not clear at this time. The high-frequency spectrum of wind waves shows a small increase of the spectral density. Wind shear stress increases a little due to the effect of opposing swell. The intensification of wind waves by opposing swell and the small increase of the spectral density in a high-frequency region can be attributed to the increase of wind shear stress. Such organized phenomena lead to the conclusion that the hypothesis of local equilibrium for pure wind waves (Toba, 1972) can also be satisfied for wind waves that coexist with opposing swell. The recent finding of Hanson and Phillips (1999) can be explained by this mechanism.


*Corresponding author E-mail: mituyasu@hf.rim.or.jp


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