Effects of the Gulf Stream on ocean waves

  • Holthuijsen L
  • Tolman H
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Abstract

In the present study a third-generation numerical wave model is used to study effects of a straight Gulf Stream ring on ocean waves in swell and storm conditions. The model accounts for all relevant processes of propagation, generation, and dissipation of the waves (including current effects) without imposing a priori restraints on the spectral development of the waves. The dominating mechanism affecting the waves appears to be current-induced refraction even though the short-crestedness of the incoming waves tends to mask its effects (also in swell conditions). Depending on wind and wave conditions, refraction may trap locally generated waves in the straight Gulf Stream or it may reflect wave energy back to the open ocean. In the Gulf Stream ring, refraction induces a considerable variation in significant wave height and short-crestedness, but it hardly affects the mean wave direction. In storm conditions the processes of generation and dissipation are considerably enhanced in countercurrent situations and reduced following-current situations.

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  • http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/91JC00901, doi:10.1029/9

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Authors

  • L. H. Holthuijsen

  • H. L. Tolman

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