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On the Thermal Signature of the Residual Foam in Breaking Waves
  • Naeem Masnadi,
  • C Christopher Chickadel,
  • Andrew Jessup
Naeem Masnadi
University of Washington, University of Washington

Corresponding Author:nmasnadi@gmail.com

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C Christopher Chickadel
University of Washington, University of Washington
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Andrew Jessup
University of Washington, USA, University of Washington, USA
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Quantifying energy dissipation due to wave breaking remains an essential but elusive goal for studying and modeling air-sea fluxes of heat, gas, and momentum. Previous observations have shown that lifetimes of bubble plumes and surface foam are directly related to the dissipated energy. Specifically, the foam decay time can be used to estimate the timescale of the subsurface bubble plume and the energy dissipated in the breaking process. A mitigating factor is that the foam decay time can be significantly affected by the surfactant concentration. Here we present an experimental investigation of a new technique that exploits the thermal signature of cooling foam to infer wave breaking dynamics. The experiments were conducted in a laboratory wave tank using artificial seawater with and without the addition of a surfactant. We show that the onset of cooling coincides with the bubble plume subsidence and the end of foam generation. The time from the start of the breaking process to the onset of cooling scales with the bubble plume decay time and the dissipated energy, and is not significantly affected by the presence of additional surfactants.
Jan 2021Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans volume 126 issue 1. 10.1029/2020JC016511