Revisiting wind wave growth with fully coupled direct numerical simulations

Jiarong Wu, Stéphane Popinet, Luc Deike

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14 Scopus citations


We investigate wind wave growth by direct numerical simulations solving for the two-phase Navier-Stokes equations. We consider the ratio of the wave speed c to the wind friction velocity u from c/u = 2 to 8, i.e. in the slow to intermediate wave regime; and initial wave steepness ak from 0.1 to 0.3; the two being varied independently. The turbulent wind and the travelling, nearly monochromatic waves are fully coupled without any subgrid-scale models. The wall friction Reynolds number is 720. The novel fully coupled approach captures the simultaneous evolution of the wave amplitude and shape, together with the underwater boundary layer (drift current), up to wave breaking. The wave energy growth computed from the time-dependent surface elevation is in quantitative agreement with that computed from the surface pressure distribution, which confirms the leading role of the pressure forcing for finite amplitude gravity waves. The phase shift and the amplitude of the principal mode of surface pressure distribution are systematically reported, to provide direct evidence for possible wind wave growth theories. Intermittent and localised airflow separation is observed for steep waves with small wave age, but its effect on setting the phase-averaged pressure distribution is not drastically different from that of non-separated sheltering. We find that the wave form drag force is not a strong function of wave age but closely related to wave steepness. In addition, the history of wind wave coupling can affect the wave form drag, due to the wave crest shape and other complex coupling effects. The normalised wave growth rate we obtain agrees with previous studies. We make an effort to clarify various commonly adopted underlying assumptions, and to reconcile the scattering of the data between different previous theoretical, numerical and experimental results, as we revisit this longstanding problem with new numerical evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA18
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Nov 25 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


  • turbulence simulation
  • wind-wave interactions


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