We study the horizontal dispersion of passive tracer particles on the free surface of gravity waves in deep water. For random linear waves with the JONSWAP spectrum, the Lagrangian particle trajectories are computed using an exact nonlinear model known as the John–Sclavounos equation. We show that the single-particle dispersion exhibits an unusual super-diffusive behavior. In particular, for large times t
, the variance of the tracer
increases as a quadratic function of time, i.e.,
. This dispersion is markedly faster than Taylor’s single-particle dispersion theory which predicts that the variance of passive tracers grows linearly with time for large t
. Our results imply that the wave motion significantly enhances the dispersion of fluid particles. We show that this super-diffusive behavior is a result of the long-term correlation of the Lagrangian velocities of fluid parcels on the free surface.
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