An estimate of the gas transfer rate from oceanic bubbles derived from multibeam sonar observations of a ship wake

Thomas C. Weber, Anthony P. Lyons, David L. Bradley

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17 Scopus citations


Measurements of gas transfer rates from bubbles have been made in the laboratory, but these are difficult to extrapolate to oceanic bubbles where populations of surfactants and particulate matter that inhibit gas transfer are different. Measurements at sea are complicated by unknown bubble creation rates that make it difficult to uniquely identify and observe the evolution of individual bubble clouds. One method that eliminates these difficulties is to measure bubbles in a ship wake where bubble creation at any given location is confined to the duration of the passing ship. This method assumes that the mechanisms slowing the gas dissolution of naturally created bubbles act in a similar manner to slow the dissolution of bubbles in a ship wake. A measurement of the gas transfer rate for oceanic bubbles using this method is reported here. A high-frequency upward-looking multibeam echosounder was used to measure the spatial distribution of bubbles in the wake of a twin screw 61-m research vessel. Hydrodynamic forcing functions are extracted from the multibeam data and used in a bubble cloud evolution model in which the gas transfer rate is treated as a free parameter. The output of model runs corresponding to different gas transfer rates is compared to the time-dependent wake depth observed in the data. Results indicating agreement between the model and the data show that the gas transfer rate must be approximately 15 times less then it would be for surfactant-free bubbles in order to explain the bubble persistence in the wake'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberC04005
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 8 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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