|Title||Laboratory air-entraining breaking waves: Imaging visible foam signatures to estimate energy dissipation|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2016|
|Authors||Callaghan AH, Deane GB, Stokes MD|
|Journal||Geophysical Research Letters|
|Type of Article||Article|
Oceanic air-entraining breaking waves fundamentally influence weather and climate through bubble-mediated ocean-atmosphere exchanges, and influence marine engineering design by impacting statistics of wave heights, crest heights, and wave loading. However, estimating individual breaking wave energy dissipation in the field remains a fundamental problem. Using laboratory experiments, we introduce a new method to estimate energy dissipation by individual breaking waves using above-water images of evolving foam. The data show the volume of the breaking wave two-phase flow integrated in time during active breaking scales linearly with wave energy dissipated. To determine the volume time-integral, above-water images of surface foam provide the breaking wave timescale and horizontal extent of the submerged bubble plume, and the foam decay time provides an estimate of the bubble plume penetration depth. We anticipate that this novel remote sensing method will improve predictions of air-sea exchanges, validate models of wave energy dissipation, and inform ocean engineering design.