Speed and Acceleration of Droplets Generated by Breaking Wind-Forced Waves

M. A. Erinin, B. Néel, D. J. Ruth, M. Mazzatenta, R. D. Jaquette, F. Veron, L. Deike

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5 Scopus citations


Laboratory measurements of droplet size, velocity, and accelerations generated by mechanically and wind-forced water breaking waves are reported. The wind free stream velocity is up to 12 m/s, leading to wave slopes from 0.15 to 0.35 at a fetch of 23 m. The ratio of wind free stream and wave phase speed ranges from 5.9 to 11.1, depending on the mechanical wave frequency. The droplet size distribution in all configurations can be represented by two power laws, N(d) ∝ d−1 for drops from 30 to 600 μm and N(d) ∝ d−4 above 600 μm. The horizontal and vertical droplet velocities appear correlated, with drops with slower horizontal speed more likely to move upward. The velocity and acceleration distributions are found to be asymmetric, with the velocity probability density functions (PDFs) being described by a normal-inverse-Gaussian distribution. The horizontal acceleration PDF are found to follow a shape close to the one predicted for small particles in homogeneous and isotropic turbulence, while the vertical distribution follows an asymmetric normal shape, showing that both acceleration components are controlled by different physical processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022GL098426
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 16 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • air-sea interaction
  • spray generated by breaking waves
  • spray statistics


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