Lagrangian transport by nonbreaking and breaking deep-water waves at the ocean surface

Nick Pizzo, W. Kendall Melville, Luc Deike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Using direct numerical simulations (DNS), Deike et al. found that the wave-breaking-induced mass transport, or drift, at the surface for a single breaking wave scales linearly with the slope of a focusing wave packet, and may be up to an order of magnitude larger than the prediction of the classical Stokes drift. This model for the drift due to an individual breaking wave, together with the statistics of wave breaking measured in the field, are used to compute the Lagrangian drift of breaking waves in the ocean. It is found that breaking may contribute up to an additional 30% to the predicted values of the classical Stokes drift of the wave field for the field experiments considered here, which have wind speeds ranging from 1.6 to 16ms-1, significant wave heights in the range of 0.7-4.7 m, and wave ages (defined here as cm/u*, for the spectrally weighted phase velocity cm and the wind friction velocity u*) ranging from 16 to 150. The drift induced by wave breaking becomes increasingly more important with increasing wind friction velocity and increasing significant wave height.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-992
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography


  • Atmosphere-ocean interaction
  • Currents
  • Gravity waves
  • Ocean dynamics
  • Wave breaking
  • Wind waves


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