Impact of waves on the sea drag: measurements in the Baltic sea and a model interpretation

Xiaoli Guo Larsén, Vladimir K Makin, Ann-Sofi Smedman

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Measurements from the Baltic Sea and a wind-over-wave coupled model are used to study the wave impact on the sea drag. The study has been carried out for different wave conditions, namely a pure wind-sea, following-swell/ mixed sea and cross-swell/ mixed sea. Measurements reveal the fact that the sea drag is dependent on the sea-state. In stationary conditions and in the absence of severe cross-swell, swell reduces drag compared to wind-sea at the same wind speed. The cross-swell enhances the drag as compared to the following-swell case and the magnitude of the drag coefficient is increased with increasing the angle of swell propagation to the wind. It is shown that the agreement between the model results and measurements is good for pure wind-sea and stationary mixed-sea cases. Discrepancies occur at light winds, where most of the data represent pure swell conditions. During these pure swell conditions the data are characterized by a large variation of the drag coefficient. The variation is caused by mesoscale variability in the stress co-spectra, wind-cross-swell effects and nonstationarity in the wave and wind fields not represented in the model.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Ocean Science (Print Edition)
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)97
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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