Weekly CASPO Seminar: Join us in Nierenberg 101 every Wednesday at 3:30 pm to hear about the latest and greatest in Climate, Atmospheric Sciences, and Physical Oceanography!
Dr. Fabrice Ardhuin of Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique et Spatiale will present: "Wind-wave forecasting in the context of Earth system science: how marine meteorology can be extended to help other science questions and applications? What are the limitations for these applications?"
Modern wave forecasting is 100 years old this year and the simple question "how safe or interesting will be the steaming or surfing today and tomorrow?" is basically solved, although improvements are always welcome, and a 5% accuracy for wave heights could save millions of dollars every day compared to the average 10% accuracy we have today in the open ocean. Uncertainties are much larger for extreme sea states: how well can we understand and predict the 1 in 100 years storm that is relevant for much of our infrastructure? That particular question still requires serious attention, in particular in a context of sea level rise and increasing use of the coasts and oceans. This is presumably limited by our knowledge of ocean surface winds, and possibly currents, and where relevant, sea ice properties.
Over the last 100 years a family of techniques and models have been developed that are proving useful for other applications: we have largely reduced the question of wind-wave forecasting to that of predicting the wave spectrum, using a radiation balance approach. That wave spectrum can be translated into wave heights and energy fluxes, it can also be translated into sources of seismic and acoustic waves that are detected by seismometers and microbarometers even in the middle of Kazakstan. Today's thousands of seismic records can be used for solid Earth tomography and monitoring while old seismic records are telling something about old storms. Recordings of wave-generated atmospheric infrasounds can also tell us much about stratospheric winds.
Back to the ocean, wave spectra are also related to the wave-induced Stokes drift, to the surface slopes and how remote sensing of wind, waves and currents can be understood, and they are related to wave breaking. The Stokes drift and wave breaking are two essential ingredients of upper ocean mixing and drift, with important implications on air-sea fluxes, connectivity of ecosystems... How well we can predict these probably depends on how well we can describe surface currents at scales ~10 km and larger. Other ongoing efforts are related to parameterizations of wave generation and dissipation associated to wind-wave-current interactions. These require dedicated observations that are not easy across the air-sea interface
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