Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 32 Issue 02

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Volume 32, No. 2
Pages 108 - 115

Estimating Rain-Generated Turbulence at the Ocean Surface Using the Active Controlled Flux Technique

William E. Asher Kyla DrushkaAndrew T. JessupElizabeth J. ThompsonDan Clark
Article Abstract

Rain-generated lenses of fresher water at the ocean surface affect satellite remote sensing of salinity, mixed-layer dynamics, and air-sea exchange of heat, momentum, and gases. Understanding how rain and wind generate turbulence at the ocean surface is important in modeling the generation and evolution of these fresh lenses. This paper discusses the use of the active controlled flux technique (ACFT) to determine relative levels of turbulence in the top centimeter of the ocean surface in the presence of rain. ACFT measurements were made during the 2016 second Salinity Processes in the Upper-ocean Regional Study (SPURS-2) in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. The data show that at wind speeds below 4 m s–1, the turbulence dissipation rate at the ocean surface (as parameterized by the water-side surface renewal time constant) is correlated with the instantaneous rain rate. However, at higher wind speeds, the wind stress dominates turbulence production and rain is not a significant source of turbulence. There is also evidence that internal waves can be a significant source of turbulence at the ocean surface under non-raining conditions when a diurnal warm layer is present.


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