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Global implications of surface current modulation of the wind-wave field


Echevarria, ER and Hemer, MA and Holbrook, NJ, Global implications of surface current modulation of the wind-wave field, Ocean Modelling, 161 Article 101792. ISSN 1463-5003 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2021 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ocemod.2021.101792


The influence of ocean surface currents on the global wind-wave field is revisited. State-of-the-art numerical spectral wave model simulations with and without surface currents taken from an eddy resolving global ocean reanalysis were compared. As a global average, simulations forced with currents display significantly better agreement with altimeter derived wave heights. The bias and root mean square error in significant wave heights are mostly reduced when including current forcing, especially in the Southern Ocean. An overall improvement in wave periods and wave direction is also seen when comparing model outputs with the Australian and United States buoy network observations. Including surface ocean current forcing in wave simulations reduces the simulated wave heights in most areas of the world, due to a decreased relative wind given by co-flowing winds and currents. Current-induced refraction generates important changes in wave direction in western boundary current and tropical regions. Furthermore, large and broad changes in friction velocity, atmosphere-to-ocean energy flux, whitecap cover and Stokes drift velocities are observed in equatorial regions. Finally, the importance of the wave model resolution for representing wave–current interactions was tested by comparing results from eddy-permitting (lower resolution) and eddy-resolving (higher resolution) configurations. We conclude that the main patterns of current-induced refraction are well represented in both cases, albeit that the higher resolution simulation represents these in a more detailed manner. Finally, the implications that the observed wave–current interactions have on several ocean processes are discussed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:wind-wave modelling, wave-current interaction, ocean currents, wave refraction, 34 WAVEWATCH III, BRAN reanalysis
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Natural hazards
Objective Field:Climatological hazards (e.g. extreme temperatures, drought and wildfires)
UTAS Author:Echevarria, ER (Mr Emilio Echevarria)
UTAS Author:Holbrook, NJ (Professor Neil Holbrook)
ID Code:143727
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2021-03-31
Last Modified:2022-08-24
Downloads:14 View Download Statistics

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