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Breaking Wave Simulation Captures Air Entrapment

The way air mixes with ocean water as waves break is an important parameter in many climate models. Now computer scientists have modelled the process

In recent years, in the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics has run a gallery of fluid motion at its annual meet. This year’s meeting in Minneapolis in November is no different and the wannabe stars of the silver screen are starting to post their entries on the arXiv. In the coming weeks, I’ll highlight any that look interesting .

Today, I’ll point to a computer simulation of a plunging breaking wave by Paul Adams at the Unclassified Data Analysis and Assessment Center of US Army Engineering Research and Development Center and a few mates.

What’s interesting about this simulation is the amount of air that becomes trapped in the water as the wave breaks. Ocean-air mixing is an important part of many climate models but difficult to measure, so simulations like these may turn out to provide useful parameters.

The videos are here along with some other impressive simulations of ships in waves and ship motions.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0910.2580: A Numerical Simulation of a Plunging Breaking Wave

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