The Enhancement of Air-Sea Gas Exchange by Oceanic Whitecapping

by Edward C. Monahan, Univ of Connecticut at Avery Point, Groton, United States,
Thomas Torgersen, Univ of Connecticut at Avery Point, Groton, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Air-Water Mass Transfer


The hypothesis that oceanic whitecaps and the accompanying buoyant bubble plumes greatly enhance the air-sea transfer coefficient of gases subject to liquid phase control has recently been confirmed in a series of 'tipping bucket' experiments. Using recently refined expressions for the wind dependence of the fraction of the sea surface covered by whitecaps, a wind-dependent effective piston velocity has been inferred from these experiments. This piston velocity has been compared with the piston velocities determined from at-sea experiments, and is found to be in general conformity with these field results in the 5 to 10ms-1 wind speed range.

Subject Headings: Wind speed | Wind forces | Seas and oceans | Ocean waves | Fluid velocity | Breaking waves | Buoyancy | Dissolved gases

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