Internal tide structure and temporal variability on the reflective continental slope of southeastern Tasmania.

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  • 1 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
  • 2 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
  • 3 School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, and Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Visctoria, Victoria, Canada
  • 4 College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
  • 5 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
  • 6 Large Lakes Observatory, and Department of Physics, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota
  • 7 University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska
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Abstract

Mode-1 internal tides can propagate far away from their generation sites, but how and where their energy is dissipated is not well understood. One example is the semidiurnal internal tide generated south of New Zealand, which propagates over a thousand kilometers before impinging on the continental slope of Tasmania. In-situ observations and model results from a recent process-study experiment are used to characterize the spatial and temporal variability of the internal tide on the southeastern Tasman slope, where previous studies have quantified large reflectivity. As expected, a standing wave pattern broadly explains the cross-slope and vertical structure of the observed internal tide. However, model and observations highlight several additional features of the internal tide on the continental slope. The standing wave pattern on the sloping bottom as well as small-scale bathymetric corrugations lead to bottom-enhanced tidal energy. Over the corrugations, larger tidal currents and isopycnal displacements are observed along the trough as opposed to the crest. Despite the long-range propagation of the internal tide, most of the variability in energy density on the slope is accounted by the spring-neap cycle. However, the timing of the semidiurnal spring tides is not consistent with a single remote wave and is instead explained by the complex interference between remote and local tides on the Tasman slope. These observations suggest that identifying the multiple waves in an interference pattern and their interaction with small-scale topography is an important step in modeling internal energy and dissipation.

Corresponding author: O. B. Marques, omarques@ucsd.edu

Abstract

Mode-1 internal tides can propagate far away from their generation sites, but how and where their energy is dissipated is not well understood. One example is the semidiurnal internal tide generated south of New Zealand, which propagates over a thousand kilometers before impinging on the continental slope of Tasmania. In-situ observations and model results from a recent process-study experiment are used to characterize the spatial and temporal variability of the internal tide on the southeastern Tasman slope, where previous studies have quantified large reflectivity. As expected, a standing wave pattern broadly explains the cross-slope and vertical structure of the observed internal tide. However, model and observations highlight several additional features of the internal tide on the continental slope. The standing wave pattern on the sloping bottom as well as small-scale bathymetric corrugations lead to bottom-enhanced tidal energy. Over the corrugations, larger tidal currents and isopycnal displacements are observed along the trough as opposed to the crest. Despite the long-range propagation of the internal tide, most of the variability in energy density on the slope is accounted by the spring-neap cycle. However, the timing of the semidiurnal spring tides is not consistent with a single remote wave and is instead explained by the complex interference between remote and local tides on the Tasman slope. These observations suggest that identifying the multiple waves in an interference pattern and their interaction with small-scale topography is an important step in modeling internal energy and dissipation.

Corresponding author: O. B. Marques, omarques@ucsd.edu
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