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Andrew J. Lucas
and
Robert Pinkel

Abstract

Space- and time-continuous seafloor temperature observations captured the three-dimensional structure of shoaling nonlinear internal waves (NLIWs) off of La Jolla, California. NLIWs were tracked for hundreds of meters in the cross- and along-shelf directions using a fiber optic distributed temperature sensing (DTS) seafloor array, complemented by an ocean-wave-powered vertical profiling mooring. Trains of propagating cold-water pulses were observed on the DTS array inshore of the location of polarity transition predicted by weakly nonlinear internal wave theory. The subsequent evolution of the temperature signatures during shoaling was consistent with that of strongly nonlinear internal waves with a large Froude number, highlighting their potential to impact property exchange. Unexpectedly, individual NLIWs were trailed by a coherent, small-scale pattern of seabed temperature variability as they moved across the mid- and inner shelf. A kinematic model was used to demonstrate that the observed patterns were consistent with a transverse instability with an along-crest wavelength of ∼10 m—a distance comparable to the cross-crest width of the wave core—and with an inferred amplitude of several meters. The signature of this instability is consistent with the span-wise vortical circulations generated in three-dimensional direct numerical simulations of shoaling and breaking nonlinear internal waves. The coupling between the small-scale transverse wave wake and turbulent wave core may have an important impact on mass, momentum, and tracer redistribution in the coastal ocean.

Significance Statement

Internal waves permeate the ocean and atmosphere. Their transport of energy and momentum plays a central role in the ocean as a physical system and mediates critical biogeochemical property exchange. In the coastal ocean, internal waves fuel the local ecosystem by redistributing nutrients and shape the local geomorphology by resuspending and transporting sediment. Despite these important impacts, a detailed understanding of nonlinear internal wave evolution in shallow water remains an elusive goal, limited by the difficulty of observing the process in action. Here we describe a transformative observational approach to track internal waves through shoaling to dissipation, combining fiber optic distributed temperature sensing and ocean-wave-powered vertical profiling to track individual waves continuously in the cross- and along-shelf direction. The waves arise from the locally energetic internal tide and undergo rapid nonlinear transformation in the shallow waters of the inner shelf. Our measurements provide the first observational evidence that after evolving into highly nonlinear waves of elevation, the waves develop a trailing, wake-like, three-dimensional instability. This instability resembles the vortical coherent structures generated in high resolution numerical simulations of internal wave shoaling, previous observations of related phenomena in the atmosphere, and in breaking surface gravity waves. The observed transverse structure has an along-crest wavelength of only ∼10 m, making it nearly invisible to traditional ocean sampling techniques. The generation of coherent vortical structures during internal wave shoaling may have a profound influence on the exchange of energy, nutrients, and sediments in coastal oceans and lakes globally.

Open access
Bofu Zheng
,
Andrew J. Lucas
,
Robert Pinkel
, and
Arnaud Le Boyer

Abstract

The Wirewalker (WW) ocean-wave-powered vertical profiling system allows the collection of high-resolution oceanographic data due to its rapid profiling, hydrodynamically quiet operation, and long endurance. We have assessed the potential for measuring fine-scale ocean velocities from the Wirewalker platform using commercially available acoustic velocimeters. Although the vertical profiling speed is relatively steady, platform motion affects the velocity measurements and requires correction. We present an algorithm to correct our velocity estimates using platform motion calculated from the inertial sensors—accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer—on a Nortek Signature1000 acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP). This correction, carried out ping by ping, was effective in removing the vehicle motion from the measured velocities. The motion-corrected velocities contain contributions from surface wave orbital velocities, especially near the surface, and the background currents. To proceed, we use an averaging approach that leverages both the vertical platform profiling of the system and the ∼15–20 m vertical profiling range resolution of the down-looking ADCP to separate the surface wave orbital velocities and the background flow. The former can provide information on the wave conditions. From the latter, we are able to estimate fine-scale velocity and shear with spectral wavenumber rolloff at vertical scales around 3 m, a vertical resolution several times finer than that possible from modern shipboard or fixed ADCPs with similar profiling range, and similar to recent glider measurements. When combined with a continuous time series of buoy drift calculated from the onboard GPS, a highly resolved total velocity field is obtained, with a unique combination of space and time resolution.

Open access
Gregory Sinnett
,
Falk Feddersen
,
Andrew J. Lucas
,
Geno Pawlak
, and
Eric Terrill

Abstract

The cross-shore evolution of nonlinear internal waves (NLIWs) from 8-m depth to shore was observed by a dense thermistor array and ADCP. Isotherm oscillations spanned much of the water column at a variety of periods. At times, NLIWs propagated into the surfzone, decreasing temperature by ≈1°C in 5 min. When stratification was strong, temperature variability was strong and coherent from 18- to 6-m depth at semidiurnal and harmonic periods. When stratification weakened, temperature variability decreased and was incoherent between 18- and 6-m depth at all frequencies. At 8-m depth, onshore coherently propagating NLIW events had associated rapid temperature drops (ΔT) up to 1.7°C, front velocity between 1.4 and 7.4 cm s−1, and incidence angles between −5° and 23°. Front position, ΔT, and two-layer equivalent height z IW of four events were tracked upslope until propagation terminated. Front position was quadratic in time, and normalized ΔT and z IW both decreased, collapsing as a linearly decaying function of normalized cross-shore distance. Front speed and deceleration are consistent with two-layer upslope gravity current scalings. During NLIW rundown, near-surface cooling and near-bottom warming at 8-m depth coincide with a critical gradient Richardson number, indicating shear-driven mixing.

Open access
James O. Pinto
,
Andrew J. Monaghan
,
Luca Delle Monache
,
Emilie Vanvyve
, and
Daran L. Rife

Abstract

Dynamical downscaling is a computationally expensive method whereby finescale details of the atmosphere may be portrayed by running a limited area numerical weather prediction model (often called a regional climate model) nested within a coarse-resolution global reanalysis or global climate model output. The goal of this study is to assess using sampling techniques to dynamically downscale a small subset of days to approximate the statistical properties of the entire period of interest. Two sampling techniques are explored: one where days are randomly selected and another where representative days are chosen (or targeted) based on a set of selection criteria. The relative merit of using random sampling versus targeted random sampling is demonstrated using daily mean 2-m air temperature (T2M). The first two moments of dynamically downscaled T2M can be approximated within 0.3 K using just 5% of the population of available days during a 20-yr period. Targeted random sampling can reduce the mean absolute error of these estimates by as much as 30% locally. Estimation of the more extreme values of T2M is more uncertain and requires a larger sample size. The potential reduction in computational cost afforded by these sampling techniques could greatly benefit applications requiring high-resolution dynamically downscaled depictions of regional climate, including situations in which an ensemble of regional climate simulations is required to properly characterize uncertainty in the model physics assumptions, scenarios, and so on.

Full access
Ryan J. Longman
,
Andrew J. Newman
,
Thomas W. Giambelluca
, and
Mathew Lucas

Abstract

Almost all daily rainfall time series contain gaps in the instrumental record. Various methods can be used to fill in missing data using observations at neighboring sites (predictor stations). In this study, five computationally simple gap-filling approaches—normal ratio (NR), linear regression (LR), inverse distance weighting (ID), quantile mapping (QM), and single best estimator (BE)—are evaluated to 1) determine the optimal method for gap filling daily rainfall in Hawaii, 2) quantify the error associated with filling gaps of various size, and 3) determine the value of gap filling prior to spatial interpolation. Results show that the correlation between a target station and a predictor station is more important than proximity of the stations in determining the quality of a rainfall prediction. In addition, the inclusion of rain/no-rain correction on the basis of either correlation between stations or proximity between stations significantly reduces the amount of spurious rainfall added to a filled dataset. For large gaps, relative median errors ranged from 12.5% to 16.5% and no statistical differences were identified between methods. For submonthly gaps, the NR method consistently produced the lowest mean error for 1- (2.1%), 15- (16.6%), and 30-day (27.4%) gaps when the difference between filled and observed monthly totals was considered. Results indicate that gap filling prior to spatial interpolation improves the overall quality of the gridded estimates, because higher correlations and lower performance errors were found when 20% of the daily dataset is filled as opposed to leaving these data unfilled prior to spatial interpolation.

Free access
Ian A. Stokes
,
Samuel M. Kelly
,
Andrew J. Lucas
,
Amy F. Waterhouse
,
Caitlin B. Whalen
,
Thilo Klenz
,
Verena Hormann
, and
Luca Centurioni

Abstract

We construct a generalized slab model to calculate the ocean’s linear response to an arbitrary, depth-variable forcing stress profile. To introduce a first-order improvement to the linear stress profile of the traditional slab model, a nonlinear stress profile, which allows momentum to penetrate into the transition layer (TL), is used [denoted mixed layer/transition layer (MLTL) stress profile]. The MLTL stress profile induces a twofold reduction in power input to inertial motions relative to the traditional slab approximation. The primary reduction arises as the TL allows momentum to be deposited over a greater depth range, reducing surface currents. The secondary reduction results from the production of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) beneath the mixed layer (ML) related to interactions between shear stress and velocity shear. Direct comparison between observations in the Iceland Basin, the traditional slab model, the generalized slab model with the MLTL stress profile, and the Price–Weller–Pinkel (PWP) model suggest that the generalized slab model offers improved performance over a traditional slab model. In the Iceland Basin, modeled TKE production in the TL is consistent with observations of turbulent dissipation. Extension to global results via analysis of Argo profiling float data suggests that on the global, annual mean, ∼30% of the total power input to near-inertial motions is allocated to TKE production. We apply this result to the latest global, annual-mean estimates for near-inertial power input (0.27 TW) to estimate that 0.08 ± 0.01 TW of the total near-inertial power input are diverted to TKE production.

Open access
Madeleine M. Hamann
,
Matthew H. Alford
,
Andrew J. Lucas
,
Amy F. Waterhouse
, and
Gunnar Voet

Abstract

The La Jolla Canyon System (LJCS) is a small, steep, shelf-incising canyon offshore of San Diego, California. Observations conducted in the fall of 2016 capture the dynamics of internal tides and turbulence patterns. Semidiurnal (D2) energy flux was oriented up-canyon; 62% ± 20% of the signal was contained in mode 1 at the offshore mooring. The observed mode-1 D2 tide was partly standing based on the ratio of group speed times energy c g E and energy flux F. Enhanced dissipation occurred near the canyon head at middepths associated with elevated strain arising from the standing wave pattern. Modes 2–5 were progressive, and energy fluxes associated with these modes were oriented down-canyon, suggesting that incident mode-1 waves were back-reflected and scattered. Flux integrated over all modes across a given canyon cross section was always onshore and generally decreased moving shoreward (from 240 ± 15 to 5 ± 0.3 kW), with a 50-kW increase in flux occurring on a section inshore of the canyon’s major bend, possibly due to reflection of incident waves from the supercritical sidewalls of the bend. Flux convergence from canyon mouth to head was balanced by the volume-integrated dissipation observed. By comparing energy budgets from a global compendium of canyons with sufficient observations (six in total), a similar balance was found. One exception was Juan de Fuca Canyon, where such a balance was not found, likely due to its nontidal flows. These results suggest that internal tides incident at the mouth of a canyon system are dissipated therein rather than leaking over the sidewalls or siphoning energy to other wave frequencies.

Full access
Eiji Masunaga
,
Matthew H. Alford
,
Andrew J. Lucas
, and
Andrea Rodriguez-Marin Freudmann

Abstract

This study investigates three-dimensional semidiurnal internal tide (IT) energetics in the vicinity of La Jolla Canyon, a steep shelf submarine canyon off the Southern California coast, with the Stanford Unstructured Nonhydrostatic Terrain-Following Adaptive Navier–Stokes Simulator (SUNTANS) numerical simulator. Numerical simulations show vertical structure and temporal phasing consistent with detailed field observations. ITs induce large (approximately 34 m from peak to peak) isotherm displacements and net onshore IT energy flux up to 200 W m−1. Although the net IT energy flux is onshore, the steep supercritical slope around the canyon results in strong reflection. The model provides the full life span of internal tides around the canyon, including internal tide generation, propagation, and dissipation. ITs propagate into the canyon from the south and are reflected back toward offshore from the canyon’s north side. In the inner part of the canyon, elevated mixing occurs in the middle layer due to an interaction between incident mode-1 ITs and reflected higher-mode ITs. The magnitude of IT flux, generation, and dissipation on the south side of the canyon are higher than those on the north side. An interference pattern in horizontal kinetic energy and available potential energy with a scale of approximately 20–50 km arises due to low-mode wave reflections. Our results provide new insight into IT dynamics associated with a small-scale canyon topography.

Significance Statement

Internal waves play an important role in ocean circulations and ecosystems. In particular, internal waves with frequencies of tides, known as internal tides, strongly enhance energy, heat, and mass transport in coastal oceans. This study presents internal tide dynamics in La Jolla Canyon, California, using a high-resolution numerical model. Model results show energy convergence in the canyon leading to internal tide energy dissipation and mixing. Some parts of internal tide energy reflect back offshore resulting in standing internal waves off California. This study provides new insights into internal tide dynamics and energy budgets in submarine canyons.

Open access
Arnaud Le Boyer
,
Matthew H. Alford
,
Nicole Couto
,
Michael Goldin
,
Sean Lastuka
,
Sara Goheen
,
San Nguyen
,
Andrew J. Lucas
, and
Tyler D. Hennon

Abstract

The Epsilometer (“epsi”) is a small (7 cm diameter × 30 cm long), low-power (0.15 W), and extremely modular microstructure package measuring thermal and kinetic energy dissipation rates, χ and ε. Both the shear probes and FP07 temperature sensors are fabricated in house following techniques developed by Michael Gregg at the Applied Physics Laboratory/University of Washington (APL/UW). Sampling eight channels (two shear, two temperature, three-axis accelerometer, and a spare for future sensors) at 24 bit precision and 325 Hz, the system can be deployed in standalone mode (battery power and recording to microSD cards) for deployment on autonomous vehicles, wave powered profilers, or it can be used with dropping body termed the “epsi-fish” for profiling from boats, autonomous surface craft or ships with electric fishing reels or other simple winches. The epsi-fish can also be used in real-time mode with the Scripps “fast CTD” winch for fully streaming, altimeter-equipped, line-powered, rapid-repeating, near-bottom shipboard profiles to 2200 m. Because this winch has a 25 ft (~7.6 m) boom deployable outboard from the ship, contamination by ship wake is reduced one to two orders of magnitude in the upper 10–15 m. The noise floor of ε profiles from the epsi-fish is ~10−10 W kg−1. This paper describes the fabrication, electronics, and characteristics of the system, and documents its performance compared to its predecessor, the APL/UW Modular Microstructure Profiler (MMP).

Full access
Gregory Sinnett
,
Kristen A. Davis
,
Andrew J. Lucas
,
Sarah N. Giddings
,
Emma Reid
,
Madeleine E. Harvey
, and
Ian Stokes

Abstract

Distributed temperature sensing (DTS) uses Raman scatter from laser light pulsed through an optical fiber to observe temperature along a cable. Temperature resolution across broad scales (seconds to many months, and centimeters to kilometers) make DTS an attractive oceanographic tool. Although DTS is an established technology, oceanographic DTS observations are rare since significant deployment, calibration, and operational challenges exist in dynamic oceanographic environments. Here, results from an experiment designed to address likely oceanographic DTS configuration, calibration, and data processing challenges provide guidance for oceanographic DTS applications. Temperature error due to suboptimal calibration under difficult deployment conditions is quantified for several common scenarios. Alternative calibration, analysis, and deployment techniques that help mitigate this error and facilitate successful DTS application in dynamic ocean conditions are discussed.

Open access