Rain-induced turbulence and air-sea gas transfer Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Results from a rain and gas exchange experiment (Bio2 RainX III) at the Biosphere 2 Center demonstrate that turbulence controls the enhancement of the air-sea gas transfer rate (or velocity) k during rainfall, even though profiles of the turbulent dissipation rate ? are strongly influenced by near-surface stratification. The gas transfer rate scales with ? inline equation for a range of rain rates with broad drop size distributions. The hydrodynamic measurements elucidate the mechanisms responsible for the rain-enhanced k results using SF6 tracer evasion and active controlled flux technique. High-resolution k and turbulence results highlight the causal relationship between rainfall, turbulence, stratification, and air-sea gas exchange. Profiles of ? beneath the air-sea interface during rainfall, measured for the first time during a gas exchange experiment, yielded discrete values as high as 10?2 W kg?1. Stratification modifies and traps the turbulence near the surface, affecting the enhancement of the transfer velocity and also diminishing the vertical mixing of mass transported to the air-water interface. Although the kinetic energy flux is an integral measure of the turbulent input to the system during rain events, ? is the most robust response to all the modifications and transformations to the turbulent state that follows. The Craig-Banner turbulence model, modified for rain instead of breaking wave turbulence, successfully predicts the near-surface dissipation profile at the onset of the rain event before stratification plays a dominant role. This result is important for predictive modeling of k as it allows inferring the surface value of ? fundamental to gas transfer.

publication date

  • July 9, 2009