Structure, Propagation, and Mixing of Energetic Baroclinic Tides in Mamala Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Matthew H. Alford Applied Physics Laboratory, and School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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Michael C. Gregg Applied Physics Laboratory, and School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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Mark A. Merrifield Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii

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Abstract

Large semidiurnal vertical displacements (≈100 m) and strong baroclinic currents (≈0.5 m s−1; several times as large as barotropic currents) dominate motions in Mamala Bay, outside the mouth of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During September 2002, the authors sought to characterize them with a 2-month McLane moored profiler deployment and a 4-day intensive survey with a towed CTD/ADCP and the Research Vessel (R/V) Revelle hydrographic sonar. Spatial maps and time series of turbulent dissipation rate ϵ, diapycnal diffusivity Kρ, isopycnal displacement η, velocity u, energy E, and energy flux F are presented. Dissipation rate peaks in the lower 150 m during rising isopycnals and high strain and shows a factor-of-50 spring–neap modulation. The largest Kρ values, in the western bay near a submarine ridge, exceed 10−3 m2 s−1. The M2 phases of η and u increase toward the west, implying a westward phase velocity cp ≈ 1 m s−1 and horizontal wavelength ≈60 km, consistent with theoretical mode-1 values. These phases vary strongly (≈±45°) in time relative to astronomical forcing, implying remotely generated signals. Energy and energy flux peak 1–3 days after spring tide, supporting this interpretation. The group velocity, computed as the ratio F/E, is near ≈1 m s−1, also in agreement with theoretical mode-1 values. Spatial maps of energy flux agree well with results from the Princeton Ocean Model, indicating converging fluxes in the western bay from waves generated to the east and west. The observations indicate a time-varying interference pattern between these waves that is modulated by background stratification between their sources and Mamala Bay.

Corresponding author address: M. Alford, Applied Physics Laboratory, 1013 E. 40th St., Seattle, WA 98105-6698. Email: malford@apl.washington.edu

Abstract

Large semidiurnal vertical displacements (≈100 m) and strong baroclinic currents (≈0.5 m s−1; several times as large as barotropic currents) dominate motions in Mamala Bay, outside the mouth of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During September 2002, the authors sought to characterize them with a 2-month McLane moored profiler deployment and a 4-day intensive survey with a towed CTD/ADCP and the Research Vessel (R/V) Revelle hydrographic sonar. Spatial maps and time series of turbulent dissipation rate ϵ, diapycnal diffusivity Kρ, isopycnal displacement η, velocity u, energy E, and energy flux F are presented. Dissipation rate peaks in the lower 150 m during rising isopycnals and high strain and shows a factor-of-50 spring–neap modulation. The largest Kρ values, in the western bay near a submarine ridge, exceed 10−3 m2 s−1. The M2 phases of η and u increase toward the west, implying a westward phase velocity cp ≈ 1 m s−1 and horizontal wavelength ≈60 km, consistent with theoretical mode-1 values. These phases vary strongly (≈±45°) in time relative to astronomical forcing, implying remotely generated signals. Energy and energy flux peak 1–3 days after spring tide, supporting this interpretation. The group velocity, computed as the ratio F/E, is near ≈1 m s−1, also in agreement with theoretical mode-1 values. Spatial maps of energy flux agree well with results from the Princeton Ocean Model, indicating converging fluxes in the western bay from waves generated to the east and west. The observations indicate a time-varying interference pattern between these waves that is modulated by background stratification between their sources and Mamala Bay.

Corresponding author address: M. Alford, Applied Physics Laboratory, 1013 E. 40th St., Seattle, WA 98105-6698. Email: malford@apl.washington.edu

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