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Zhao Jing, Ping Chang, S. F. DiMarco, and Lixin Wu

Abstract

A long-term mooring array deployed in the northern Gulf of Mexico is used to analyze energy exchange between internal waves and low-frequency flows. In the subthermocline (245–450 m), there is a noticeable net energy transfer from low-frequency flows, defined as having a period longer than six inertial periods, to internal waves. The magnitude of energy transfer rate depends on the Okubo–Weiss parameter of low-frequency flows. A permanent energy exchange occurs only when the Okubo–Weiss parameter is positive. The near-inertial internal waves (NIWs) make major contribution to the energy exchange owing to their energetic wave stress and relatively stronger interaction with low-frequency flows compared to the high-frequency internal waves. There is some evidence that the permanent energy exchange between low-frequency flows and NIWs is attributed to the partial realization of the wave capture mechanism. In the periods favoring the occurrence of the wave capture mechanism, the horizontal propagation direction of NIWs becomes anisotropic and exhibits evident tendency toward that predicted from the wave capture mechanism, leading to pronounced energy transfer from low-frequency flows to NIWs.

Open access
Zhao Jing, Ping Chang, Steven F. DiMarco, and Lixin Wu

Abstract

Moored ADCP data collected in the northern Gulf of Mexico are analyzed to examine near-inertial internal waves and their contribution to subthermocline diapycnal mixing based on a finescale parameterization of deep ocean mixing. The focus of the study is on the impact of near-inertial internal waves generated by an extreme weather event—that is, Hurricane Katrina—and by month-to-month variation in weather patterns on the diapycnal mixing. The inferred subthermocline diapycnal mixing exhibits pronounced elevation in the wake of Katrina. Both the increased near-inertial (0.8–1.8f, where f is the Coriolis frequency) and superinertial (>1.8f) shear variances contribute to the elevated diapycnal mixing, but the former plays a more dominant role. The intense wind work on near-inertial motions by the hurricane is largely responsible for the energetic near-inertial shear variance. Energy transfer from near-inertial to superinertial internal waves, however, appears to play an important role in elevating the superinertial shear variance. The inferred subthermocline diapycnal mixing in the region also exhibits significant month-to-month variation with the estimated diffusivity in January 2006 about 3 times the values in November and December 2005. The subseasonal change in the diapycnal mixing mainly results from the subseasonal variation of the near-inertial wind work that causes intensification of the near-inertial shear in January 2006.

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Maarten C. Buijsman, Joseph K. Ansong, Brian K. Arbic, James G. Richman, Jay F. Shriver, Patrick G. Timko, Alan J. Wallcraft, Caitlin B. Whalen, and ZhongXiang Zhao

Abstract

The effects of a parameterized linear internal wave drag on the semidiurnal barotropic and baroclinic energetics of a realistically forced, three-dimensional global ocean model are analyzed. Although the main purpose of the parameterization is to improve the surface tides, it also influences the internal tides. The relatively coarse resolution of the model of ~8 km only permits the generation and propagation of the first three vertical modes. Hence, this wave drag parameterization represents the energy conversion to and the subsequent breaking of the unresolved high modes. The total tidal energy input and the spatial distribution of the barotropic energy loss agree with the Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX)/Poseidon (TPXO) tidal inversion model. The wave drag overestimates the high-mode conversion at ocean ridges as measured against regional high-resolution models. The wave drag also damps the low-mode internal tides as they propagate away from their generation sites. Hence, it can be considered a scattering parameterization, causing more than 50% of the deep-water dissipation of the internal tides. In the near field, most of the baroclinic dissipation is attributed to viscous and numerical dissipation. The far-field decay of the simulated internal tides is in agreement with satellite altimetry and falls within the broad range of Argo-inferred dissipation rates. In the simulation, about 12% of the semidiurnal internal tide energy generated in deep water reaches the continental margins.

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Amy F. Waterhouse, Samuel M. Kelly, Zhongxiang Zhao, Jennifer A. MacKinnon, Jonathan D. Nash, Harper Simmons, Dmitry Brahznikov, Luc Rainville, Matthew Alford, and Rob Pinkel

Abstract

Low-mode internal tides, a dominant part of the internal wave spectrum, carry energy over large distances, yet the ultimate fate of this energy is unknown. Internal tides in the Tasman Sea are generated at Macquarie Ridge, south of New Zealand, and propagate northwest as a focused beam before impinging on the Tasmanian continental slope. In situ observations from the Tasman Sea capture synoptic measurements of the incident semidiurnal mode-1 internal-tide, which has an observed wavelength of 183 km and surface displacement of approximately 1 cm. Plane-wave fits to in situ and altimetric estimates of surface displacement agree to within a measurement uncertainty of 0.3 cm, which is the same order of magnitude as the nonstationary (not phase locked) mode-1 tide observed over a 40-day mooring deployment. Stationary energy flux, estimated from a plane-wave fit to the in situ observations, is directed toward Tasmania with a magnitude of 3.4 ± 1.4 kW m−1, consistent with a satellite estimate of 3.9 ± 2.2 kW m−1. Approximately 90% of the time-mean energy flux is due to the stationary tide. However, nonstationary velocity and pressure, which are typically 1/4 the amplitude of the stationary components, sometimes lead to instantaneous energy fluxes that are double or half of the stationary energy flux, overwhelming any spring–neap variability. Despite strong winds and intermittent near-inertial currents, the parameterized turbulent-kinetic-energy dissipation rate is small (i.e., 10−10 W kg−1) below the near surface and observations of mode-1 internal tide energy-flux convergence are indistinguishable from zero (i.e., the confidence intervals include zero), indicating little decay of the mode-1 internal tide within the Tasman Sea.

Open access