Variation of whitecap coverage with wave-field conditions

Y. Sugihara, H. Tsumori, T. Ohga, H. Yoshioka, S. Serizawa

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    71 Citations (Scopus)


    Field observations were carried out at a sea observation tower to investigate how whitecap coverage on the ocean surface responds to wave-field conditions. Images of whitecaps were taken for every 4 h or 7 h in the daytime using a 3CCD digital video camera fixed at 14 m elevation, and they were stored automatically in a hard disk video recorder at a time interval of 1 s. The determination of whitecap coverage was made by means of a digital image processing. The 1/3 power of whitecap coverage increases linearly with increasing the 10-m neutral wind speed. On the basis of the deflection angle between the propagating directions of wind waves and swell, wave-field conditions are classified into four cases. The present results show that whitecaps are produced most actively under the condition of the pure windsea and they tend to be suppressed by the presence of swell. It is difficult to find a certain relation between the deflection angle and whitecap coverage. Whitecap coverage also increases with the wave age in the same wind-speed conditions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-60
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Marine Systems
    Issue number1-4
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Oceanography
    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Aquatic Science


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