Breaking serves to limit the height of surface waves, mix the surface waters, generate ocean currents, and enhance air-sea fluxes of heat, mass, and momentum through the generation of turbulence and the entrainment of air. Breaking may result from intrinsic instabilities of deep-water waves or through wave-wave, wave- current, and wind-wave interactions. Observations in the field are made difficult by the fact that breaking is a strongly nonlinear intermittent process occurring over a wide range of scales. Controlled laboratory studies of breaking have proven useful in measuring the scaling relationships between the surface wave field and the kinematics and dynamics of breaking. The inability to predict the occurrence and dynamics of breaking is a major impediment to the development of better wind-wave and mixed-layer models. Modern acoustic and electromagnetic oceanographic instrumentation should lead to significantly improved measurements of breaking in the near future.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Annual Rev Fluid Mechanics, 1996, p 279 [33 p, 153 ref, 11 fig]
  • Authors:
    • Melville, W K
  • Publication Date: 1996


  • English

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00727969
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: British Maritime Technology
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 4 1996 12:00AM