The effect of surfactants on gas exchange across an air/water interface populated with capillary waves, is considered. Experiments were conducted on capillary waves having a wavelength of 2.87 mm in the presence of oleyl alcohol and stearic acid, as well as on surfaces which were surfactant-free. The presence of these surfactants decreased the gas exchange rate by at most a factor of two when the energy delivered to the tank was held constant. Thus, even in the presence of surfactants, pure capillary waves still caused significant gas exchange, indicating that partially damped capillary waves may play an important role in air/sea gas exchange. When the gas exchange coefficient was plotted as a function of mean square slope, the presence of surfactants was found to negligibly affect the gas exchange rate, with the possible exception of the high wave slope regime for stearic acid. This result suggests that it is principally the kinematics of wave motion which accounts for the enhancement of transport due to the capillary waves investigated here. Moreover, these results agree with those obtained from polychromatic, wind-generated waves, suggesting that, for non-breaking waves, knowledge of the statistics of the wave field may be all that is required to parameterize the gas exchange coefficient.
Experiments in Fluids – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 23, 1999
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