Experimental study of the initial stages of wind waves' spatial evolution

Dan Liberzon, Lev Shemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite a significant progress and numerous publications over the last few decades a comprehensive understanding of the process of waves' excitation by wind still has not been achieved. The main goal of the present work was to provide as comprehensive as possible set of experimental data that can be quantitatively compared with theoretical models. Measurements at various air flow rates and at numerous fetches were carried out in a small scale, closed-loop, 5 m long wind wave flume. Mean airflow velocity and fluctuations of the static pressure were measured at 38 vertical locations above the mean water surface simultaneously with determination of instantaneous water surface elevations by wave gauges. Instantaneous fluctuations of two velocity components were recorded for all vertical locations at a single fetch. The water surface drift velocity was determined by the particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) method. Evaluation of spatial growth rates of waves at various frequencies was performed using wave gauge records at various fetches. Phase relations between various signals were established by cross-spectral analysis. Waves' celerities and pressure fluctuation phase lags relative to the surface elevation were determined. Pressure values at the water surface were determined by extrapolating the measured vertical profile of pressure fluctuations to the mean water level and used to calculate the form drag and consequently the energy transfer rates from wind to waves. Directly obtained spatial growth rates were compared with those obtained from energy transfer calculations, as well as with previously available data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-498
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 25 Aug 2011


  • air/sea interactions
  • turbulent boundary layers
  • wind-wave interactions

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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