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14 October 2014 Ship wake signatures in radar/optical images of the sea surface: observations and physical mechanisms
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Ship wakes can be clearly seen in satellite radar and optical images of the sea surface, and understanding of physical mechanisms responsible for the wake signatures is very important to develop methods of ship detection/identification. The wake surface signatures at small and intermediate stages are characterized by a smooth centerline area where surface waves are depressed due to the vessel turbulence and by a pair of rough bands at the sides of the centerline wake. At large wake ages two slick bands (a “railroad track” wake) appear instead of the rough bands, while the smooth centerline band is practically absent. In this paper results of field studies of the mean flow structure near the wake are presented. It is shown that two mean circulating currents (“rolls”) rotating in the opposite directions are formed at two sides of the median vertical plane of the wake. Near the water surface the rolls result in diverging horizontal flows, decreasing near the wake edges. Wind waves propagating against the diverging currents are amplified due to a wave straining mechanism thus increasing the surface roughness. Film sampling was carried out when crossing the wakes and analysis of films collected within the “railroad” slick bands and outside the bands has revealed enhanced surface wave damping, obviously due to accumulation of surfactants in the slick bands; the surfactant compression is explained by the action of the diverging currents. The diverging currents as part of the rolls and the surfactant transport to the water surface are supposed to be associated with air bubbles generated by ship propellers.
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S. Ermakov, I. Kapustin, and T. Lazareva "Ship wake signatures in radar/optical images of the sea surface: observations and physical mechanisms", Proc. SPIE 9240, Remote Sensing of the Ocean, Sea Ice, Coastal Waters, and Large Water Regions 2014, 92400N (14 October 2014);


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