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

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Echevarria, ER, Hemer, MA and Holbrook, NJ ORCID: 0000-0002-3523-6254 2021 , 'Global implications of surface current modulation of the wind-wave field' , Ocean Modelling , doi: 10.1016/j.ocemod.2021.101792.

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Abstract

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 Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Echevarria, ER and Hemer, MA and Holbrook, NJ
Keywords: wind-wave modelling, wave-current interaction, ocean currents, wave refraction, 34 WAVEWATCH III, BRAN reanalysis
Journal or Publication Title: Ocean Modelling
Publisher: Elsevier Sci Ltd
ISSN: 1463-5003
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.ocemod.2021.101792
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2021 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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