Baroclinic Energy Flux at the Hawaiian Ridge: Observations from the R/P FLIP

Luc Rainville Marine Physical Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

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Robert Pinkel Marine Physical Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

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Abstract

Estimates of baroclinic energy flux are made in the immediate “Nearfield” (September–October 2002) and 450 km offshore (“Farfield”; October–November 2001) of the Kaena Ridge, an active barotropic-to-baroclinic conversion site. The flux estimates are based on repeated profiles of velocity and density obtained from the Research Platform Floating Instrument Platform (FLIP) as an aspect of the Hawaii Ocean Mixing Experiment. Energetic beams associated with both semidiurnal and diurnal internal waves are observed in the Kauai Channel. Beam depths and orientations are consistent with generation along the upper flanks of the ridge. At the far-field site, the baroclinic energy flux is borne primarily by first-mode semidiurnal waves. The energy flux associated with the entire spectrum of internal waves is computed by cross-spectral analysis. Significant energy fluxes are found in the inertial, diurnal, semidiurnal, and twice-semidiurnal frequency bands. The semidiurnal energy flux strongly dominates the spectrum at both sites. The flux magnitude follows the spring–neap cycle of the semidiurnal barotropic tide. The averaged depth-integrated mode-1 semidiurnal energy flux (over the entire water column) in the Farfield is found to be 1.7 ± 0.3 kW m−1 away from the ridge, with peak values up to 4 kW m−1. Small fluxes toward the ridge are occasionally seen at neap tide. At both sites, energy fluxes in the diurnal frequency band represent 15%–20% of the semidiurnal energy flux. In the Farfield, the magnitude of the diurnal energy flux varies in accord with the fortnightly cycle of the barotropic semidiurnal tide, rather than with the diurnal forcing, suggesting that energy for those waves is supplied by a cross-frequency transfer from the low-vertical-mode M2 internal tide to higher-mode internal waves at frequencies ½M2. In the Nearfield, the diurnal flux varies with fluctuations in both diurnal and semidiurnal forcing.

Corresponding author address: Luc Rainville, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MS 21, Woods Hole, MA 02543. Email: lrainville@whoi.edu

Abstract

Estimates of baroclinic energy flux are made in the immediate “Nearfield” (September–October 2002) and 450 km offshore (“Farfield”; October–November 2001) of the Kaena Ridge, an active barotropic-to-baroclinic conversion site. The flux estimates are based on repeated profiles of velocity and density obtained from the Research Platform Floating Instrument Platform (FLIP) as an aspect of the Hawaii Ocean Mixing Experiment. Energetic beams associated with both semidiurnal and diurnal internal waves are observed in the Kauai Channel. Beam depths and orientations are consistent with generation along the upper flanks of the ridge. At the far-field site, the baroclinic energy flux is borne primarily by first-mode semidiurnal waves. The energy flux associated with the entire spectrum of internal waves is computed by cross-spectral analysis. Significant energy fluxes are found in the inertial, diurnal, semidiurnal, and twice-semidiurnal frequency bands. The semidiurnal energy flux strongly dominates the spectrum at both sites. The flux magnitude follows the spring–neap cycle of the semidiurnal barotropic tide. The averaged depth-integrated mode-1 semidiurnal energy flux (over the entire water column) in the Farfield is found to be 1.7 ± 0.3 kW m−1 away from the ridge, with peak values up to 4 kW m−1. Small fluxes toward the ridge are occasionally seen at neap tide. At both sites, energy fluxes in the diurnal frequency band represent 15%–20% of the semidiurnal energy flux. In the Farfield, the magnitude of the diurnal energy flux varies in accord with the fortnightly cycle of the barotropic semidiurnal tide, rather than with the diurnal forcing, suggesting that energy for those waves is supplied by a cross-frequency transfer from the low-vertical-mode M2 internal tide to higher-mode internal waves at frequencies ½M2. In the Nearfield, the diurnal flux varies with fluctuations in both diurnal and semidiurnal forcing.

Corresponding author address: Luc Rainville, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MS 21, Woods Hole, MA 02543. Email: lrainville@whoi.edu

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