Relevance of wind stress and wave-dependent ocean surface roughness on the generation of winter meteotsunamis in Northern Gulf of Mexico

Ocean Modeling
By: , and 

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Abstract

Meteotsunamis associated with passing squall lines are often observed ahead of cold fronts during winter seasons in Northern Gulf of Mexico. These types of meteotsunamis occur simultaneously with wind speed variations (~5-20 m/s) and sea-level atmospheric pressure oscillations (~1-6 hPa) with periods between 2 hours to several minutes. In order to enhance understanding of meteotsunami generation and propagation mechanisms, a Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport (COAWST) modeling system is applied to one of the most intense winter meteotsunamis measured in Northern Gulf of Mexico in the last decade (2009-2018). The model verification with sea level and atmospheric observations show that the fully-coupled model is able to reproduce the timing and intensity of the 10-m wind and sea level atmospheric pressure fluctuations. The mean bias between observed and measured wind speeds and atmospheric pressure are 1.73 m/s and 0.63 hPa respectively. The maximum meteotsunami elevation and its timing are successfully captured by modeled (with a 7% underestimation of the maximum elevation). The relative effect of atmospheric pressure and wind stress divergence on meteotsunami generation is assessed with different numerical simulations. Results indicate that both wind stress and atmospheric pressure oscillations contributed to the generation of the meteotsunami. Wind stress was the dominant force in shallow waters (<15 m in this application), while the effects of atmospheric pressure disturbances dominated over areas with Froude number close to one (~40 m in this application). During the passage of the squall line, the sea surface became rougher in a sea state characterized by young and steep local ocean waves. Compared to a purely wind-speed-dependent roughness scheme, the application of a wave-dependent roughness parameterization improved in 37% modeled meteotsunami maximum elevation.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Relevance of wind stress and wave-dependent ocean surface roughness on the generation of winter meteotsunamis in Northern Gulf of Mexico
Series title Ocean Modeling
DOI 10.1016/j.ocemod.2019.101408
Volume 140
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 101408, 15 p.
Country United States
Other Geospatial Northern Gulf of Mexico
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