Gas Transfer by Breaking Waves

Luc Deike, W. Kendall Melville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The transfer of gases at the ocean-atmosphere interface impacts weather and climate from local to global scales, with carbon dioxide (CO2) key to marine life and ecosystems, and dimethyl sulfide affecting aerosols and atmospheric processes. However, the bubble-mediated gas transfer, associated with breaking waves has remained poorly constrained. We present a spectral framework for bubble-mediated gas transfer, computed from a mechanistic model for air bubble entrainment at the breaking wave scale combined with a chemical model. Gas transfer is upscaled to the ocean scale by evaluating air entrainment at all wave scales using wave and wave breaking statistics. The obtained CO2 gas transfer velocity reproduces the variability of historical parameterizations and recent field measurements, with very good accuracy. We propose a wind-wave parameterization that collapses all available data, which can be directly implemented in ocean-wave models or used with remote sensing of the ocean surface to infer gas transfer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10,482-10,492
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 16 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • air-sea interaction
  • bubbles
  • gas transfer
  • wave breaking


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