Fairall C. W., M. L. Banner, W. L. Peirson, W. Asher and R. P. Morrison (October 2009): Investigation of the physical scaling of sea spray spume droplet production. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 114, C10001. doi:10.1029/2008JC004918

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In this paper we report on a laboratory study, the Spray Production and Dynamics Experiment (SPANDEX), conducted at the University of New South Wales Water Research Laboratory in Australia. The goals of SPANDEX were to illuminate physical aspects of spume droplet production and dispersion; verify theoretical simplifications used to estimate the source function from ambient droplet concentration measurements; and examine the relationship between the implied source strength and forcing parameters such as wind speed, surface turbulent stress, and wave properties. Observations of droplet profiles give reasonable confirmation of the basic power law profile relationship that is commonly used to relate droplet concentrations to the surface source strength. This essentially confirms that, even in a wind tunnel, there is a near balance between droplet production and removal by gravitational settling. The observations also indicate considerable droplet mass may be present for sizes larger than 1.5 mm diameter. Phase Doppler Anemometry observations revealed significant mean horizontal and vertical slip velocities that were larger closer to the surface. The magnitude seems too large to be an acceleration time scale effect. Scaling of the droplet production surface source strength proved to be difficult. The wind speed forcing varied only 23% and the stress increased a factor of 2.2. Yet, the source strength increased by about a factor of 7. We related this to an estimate of surface wave energy flux through calculations of the standard deviation of small-scale water surface disturbance, a wave-stress parameterization, and numerical wave model simulations. This energy index only increased by a factor of 2.3 with the wind forcing. Nonetheless, a graph of spray mass surface flux versus surface disturbance energy is quasi-linear with a substantial threshold.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1029/2008JC004918
URI: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/pubs/id/eprint/290