Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems, Climate Variability & Change

Langmuir cells are a powerful mixing agent in the near-surface ocean (e.g., Smith, 1998). The transport of mass, momentum, and tracers across the ocean surface layer and the determination of mixed layer depth are important for climate. Biogeochemical effects are profound as all photosynthesis occurs near the surface. At present, Langmuir circulation effects are not handled explicitly in boundary layer models used for global climate simulations (e.g., Large et al., 1994). Importantly, they are unlike other turbulent mixing processes in that they depend--in combination--on the surface wave field and the surface wind field. Members of our group (Chini, 2008; Chini et al., 2008) have extended the mathematical analysis of Langmuir circulation to the point where useful scaling laws and parameterizations of finite amplitude Langmuir cells are rigorously derivable for the first time. For this study, we intend first to use satellite observations of wave and wind fields in conjunction with this theory to understand the global distribution and potential climate impact of Langmuir cells. Second, we intend to distill the mathematical theory into a parameterization of the most important effects, validated against Large Eddy Simulations. Third, we will implement a both a prognostic wave model and the parameterization into the NCAR CCSM climate model. Finally, we intend to analyze and validate the wave model and the parameterization results by returning to satellite observations for comparison (i.e., the satellite wave field will validate the wave model, satellite SSH/SST/SSS bias reductions will validate the parameterization).

Project PI: Baylor Fox-Kemper/University of Colorado at Boulder

Ekeley S250B,University of Colorado at Boulder 216 UCBBoulder, CO 80309-0216

Phone: (303)492-0532

Fax: (303)492-1149



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Started: Aug 10, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 16, 2010


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