Date of Award

August 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Qian Liao

Committee Members

Harvey A. Bootsma, Hector R. Bravo, Paul J. Roebber, Val Klump


Air Sea Interaction, Gas Flux Across the Air Water Interface, Gas Transfer Velocity, In Situ PIV, Near Surface Turbulence, Ocean Upper Layer


Air-sea interaction and the interfacial exchange of gas across the air-water interface are of great importance in coupled atmospheric-oceanic environmental systems. Aqueous turbulence structure immediately adjacent to the air-water interface is the combined result of wind, surface waves, currents and other environmental forces and plays a key role in energy budgets, gas fluxes and hence the global climate system. However, the quantification of turbulence structure sufficiently close to the air-water interface is extremely difficult. The physical relationship between interfacial gas exchange and near surface turbulence remains insufficiently investigated. This dissertation aims to measure turbulence in situ in a complex environmental forcing system on Lake Michigan and to reveal the relationship between turbulent statistics and the CO2 flux across the air-water interface. The major objective of this dissertation is to investigate the physical control of the interfacial gas exchange and to provide a universal parameterization of gas transfer velocity from environmental factors, as well as to propose a mechanistic model for the global CO2 flux that can be applied in three dimensional climate-ocean models.

Firstly, this dissertation presents an advanced measurement instrument, an in situ free floating Particle Image Velocimetry (FPIV) system, designed and developed to investigate the small scale turbulence structure immediately below the air-water interface. Description of hardware components, design of the system, measurement theory, data analysis procedure and estimation of measurement error were provided.

Secondly, with the FPIV system, statistics of small scale turbulence immediately below the air-water interface were investigated under a variety of environmental conditions. One dimensional wave-number spectrum and structure function sufficiently close to the water surface were examined. The vertical profiles of turbulent dissipation rate were intensively studied. Comparison between the turbulence structures measured during the wind wave initiation period and those obtained during the growing period was presented. Significant wave effects on near surface turbulence were found. A universal scaling law was proposed to parameterize turbulent dissipation rate immediately below the air-water interface with friction velocity, significant wave height and wave age.

Finally, the gas transfer velocity was measured with a floating chamber (FC) system, along with simultaneously FPIV measurements. Turbulent dissipation rate both at the interface and at a short distance away from the interface (~ 10 cm) were analyzed and used to examine the small scale eddy model. The model coefficient was found to be dependent on the level of turbulence, instead of being a constant. An empirical relationship between the model coefficient and turbulent dissipation rate was provided, which improved the accuracy of the gas transfer velocity estimation by more than 100% for data acquired. Other data from the literature also supported this empirical relation. Furthermore, the relationship between model coefficient and turbulent Reynolds number was also investigated. In addition to physical control of gas exchange, the disturbance on near surface hydrodynamics by the FC was also discussed. Turbulent dissipation rates are enhanced at the short distance away from the interface, while the surface dissipation rates do not change significantly.