A unified directional spectrum for long and short wind-driven waves


  • T. Elfouhaily,

  • B. Chapron,

  • K. Katsaros,

  • D. Vandemark


Review of several recent ocean surface wave models finds that while comprehensive in many regards, these spectral models do not satisfy certain additional, but fundamental, criteria. We propose that these criteria include the ability to properly describe diverse fetch conditions and to provide agreement with in situ observations of Cox and Munk [1954] and Jähne and Riemer [1990] and Hara et al. [1994] data in the high-wavenumber regime. Moreover, we find numerous analytically undesirable aspects such as discontinuities across wavenumber limits, nonphysical tuning or adjustment parameters, and noncentrosymmetric directional spreading functions. This paper describes a two-dimensional wavenumber spectrum valid over all wavenumbers and analytically amenable to usage in electromagnetic models. The two regime model is formulated based on the Joint North Sea Wave Project (JONSWAP) in the long-wave regime and on the work of Phillips [1985] and Kitaigorodskii [1973] at the high wavenumbers. The omnidirectional and wind-dependent spectrum is constructed to agree with past and recent observations including the criteria mentioned above. The key feature of this model is the similarity of description for the high- and low-wavenumber regimes; both forms are posed to stress that the air-sea interaction process of friction between wind and waves (i.e., generalized wave age, u/c) is occurring at all wavelengths simultaneously. This wave age parameterization is the unifying feature of the spectrum. The spectrum's directional spreading function is symmetric about the wind direction and has both wavenumber and wind speed dependence. A ratio method is described that enables comparison of this spreading function with previous noncentrosymmetric forms. Radar data are purposefully excluded from this spectral development. Finally, a test of the spectrum is made by deriving roughness length using the boundary layer model of Kitaigorodskii. Our inference of drag coefficient versus wind speed and wave age shows encouraging agreement with Humidity Exchange Over the Sea (HEXOS) campaign results.