ISSN 2070-7401 (Print), ISSN 2411-0280 (Online)
Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa


Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa, 2018, Vol. 15, No. 7, pp. 208-217

On the “comb” structure of the edges of slicks on the sea surface

S.A. Ermakov 1 , O.Yu. Lavrova 2 , I.A. Kapustin 1 , A.V. Ermoshkin 1 , A.A. Molkov 1 , O.A. Danilicheva 1 
1 Institute of Applied Physics RAS, Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia
2 Space Research Institute RAS, Moscow, Russia
Accepted: 05.12.2018
DOI: 10.21046/2070-7401-2018-15-7-208-217
Analysis of observations of comb structures formed at the edges of marine slicks using satellite radar imagery and data of field experiments with artificial slicks carried out from an Oceanographic Platform on the Black Sea has been performed. It is shown that the structures appear at upwind boundaries of slicks and are typical both for mineral oil films and for biogenic films. Comb structures are practically parallel to the wind direction. For the case of oil spills from ships moving in the wind direction the structures are not formed. Characteristic cross-wind scales of the “combs” are similar to those for windrows, or so-called Langmuir circulations. A physical explanation of a mechanism of the comb structure formation based on the effect of redistribution of surfactants in the field of surface currents induced by Langmuir circulations is given. The latter are characterized by the existence of quasi periodic convergent/divergent currents in the cross wind direction. These currents under certain conditions result in film tearing in divergent zones and surfactant accumulation in convergent zones near upwind slick edges. Theoretical estimates of the comb scales demonstrate satisfactory consistency with observations.
Keywords: sea surface, film slicks, ocean radar probing, windrows, Langmuir circulations
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