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S. K. Kang
M. G. G. Foreman
W. R. Crawford
, and
J. Y. Cherniawsky


Internal M 2 tides near Hawaii are investigated with a two-dimensional, two-layer numerical model. It is seen that along the Hawaiian Ridge barotropic tidal energy is transformed into baroclinic internal tides that propagate in both northeast and southwest directions, as previously hypothesized. The internal tide for a certain beam is seen to propagate well over 1000 km. with an approximate decay scale of 1000 km. An asymmetric pattern in the baroclinic energy flux is observed to the north and south of the Hawaiian Ridge due to the spatially inhomogeneous baroclinic energy sources.

The surface manifestation of the M 2 internal tide in the model is compared with analysis results from TOPEX/Poseidon satellite altimetry. The baroclinic short-wave variation of a few centimeters amplitude, superposed on the barotropic surface amplitude, agrees well with the altimeter analyses. This, together with snapshots of the interfacial disturbance, allows the authors to sketch the propagation pattern of internal waves emanating northward and southward from the Hawaiian Ridge. Tidal current ellipses in the upper layer are dominated by the baroclinic internal tide with large spatial variability in their magnitude compared to the barotropic tidal ellipses.

The M 2 baroclinic energy flux is over 10 kW m−1 for the strongest energy beam propagating toward the northeast. Along the western Hawaiian Ridge about 3.8 GW of tidal power is converted from barotropic to baroclinic motion. The average northward or southward flux density for the first baroclinic mode is about 1.35 kW m−1 in the western Hawaiian Ridge. Also, if 2.7 kW m−1 (1.35 kW m−1 to each direction) is assumed for the whole 2000-km-long Hawaiian Ridge, a total of 5.4 GW is obtained. This value indicates that there is still a large uncertainty in the rate of barotropic to radiating baroclinic energy conversion along the Hawaiian Ridge.

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