Wave-induced turbulence and mixing in upper ocean: how important is the role of breaking and non-breaking waves? EuHIT Funded Project


Jaak Monbaliu
University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Davide Proment
University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
Hayder Salman
University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
Erik A. Toorman
KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


Research Infrastructure
Turin Rotating Platform, Italy
Facilities used
Turin Rotating Platform Facility (TRP)
Project leader
Alessandro Toffoli
Plymouth University, Plymouth, United Kingdom


Despite the importance on global climate, the complex processes that regulate the thermo-dynamical balance between the atmosphere and the ocean at the air-sea interface still remain enigmatic. This is mainly due to an incomplete understanding of the effect that surface gravity waves play on the turbulent mixing, especially when non-breaking. To address this problem, experiments will be conducted in a unique annular wind-wave flume, which allows in principle an undisturbed wave generation due to artificial wind forcing and propagation over an infinite distance with negligible reflection. In a first stage of the project, performances and limits of the flume will be investigated at different wind speeds to properly understand the generation of surface waves, their general statistical properties and the probability of extremes. In a second instance, but for the same wind input conditions, observations will be focused on the velocity field below the water surface to investigate the role of wave-induced motion by both breaking and non-breaking waves on the generation of ocean turbulence. Finally, the estimation of an empirical parameterization correlating turbulent mixing to properties of surface waves will be attempted.