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Neil J. Balmforth and Thomas Peacock

Abstract

Calculations are presented of the rate of energy conversion of the barotropic tide into internal gravity waves above topography on the ocean floor. The ocean is treated as infinitely deep, and the topography consists of periodic obstructions; a Green function method is used to construct the scattered wavefield. The calculations extend the previous results of for subcritical topography (wherein waves propagate along rays whose slopes exceed that of the topography everywhere), by allowing the obstacles to be arbitrarily steep or supercritical (so waves propagate at shallower angles than the topographic slopes and are scattered both up and down). A complicated pattern is found for the dependence of energy conversion on ϵ, the ratio of maximum topographic slope to wave slope, and the ratio of obstacle amplitude and separation. This results from a sequence of constructive and destructive interferences between scattered waves that has implications for computing tidal conversion rates for the global ocean.

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Thomas Peacock, Paula Echeverri, and Neil J. Balmforth

Abstract

Experimental results of internal tide generation by two-dimensional topography are presented. The synthetic Schlieren technique is used to study the wave fields generated by a Gaussian bump and a knife edge. The data compare well to theoretical predictions, supporting the use of these models to predict tidal conversion rates. In the experiments, viscosity plays an important role in smoothing the wave fields, which heals the singularities that can appear in inviscid theory and suppresses secondary instabilities of the experimental wave field.

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Manikandan Mathur, Glenn S. Carter, and Thomas Peacock

Abstract

An established analytical technique for modeling internal tide generation by barotropic flow over bottom topography in the ocean is the Green function–based approach. To date, however, for realistic ocean studies this method has relied on the WKB approximation. In this paper, the complete Green function method, without the WKB approximation, is developed and tested, and in the process, the accuracy of the WKB approximation for realistic ridge geometries and ocean stratifications is considered. For isolated Gaussian topography, the complete Green function approach is shown to be accurate via close agreement with the results of numerical simulations for a wide range of height ratios and criticality; in contrast, the WKB approach is found to be inaccurate for small height ratios in the subcritical regime and all tall topography that impinges on the pycnocline. Two ocean systems are studied, the Kaena and Wyville Thomson Ridges, for which there is again excellent agreement between the complete Green function approach and numerical simulations, and the WKB approximate solutions have substantial errors. This study concludes that the complete Green function approach, which is typically only modestly more computationally expensive than the WKB approach, should be the go-to analytical method to model internal tide generation for realistic ocean ridge scenarios.

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Magdalena Andres, Ruth C. Musgrave, Daniel L. Rudnick, Kristin L. Zeiden, Thomas Peacock, and Jae-Hun Park

Abstract

As part of the Flow Encountering Abrupt Topography (FLEAT) program, an array of pressure-sensor equipped inverted echo sounders (PIESs) was deployed north of Palau where the westward-flowing North Equatorial Current encounters the southern end of the Kyushu–Palau Ridge in the tropical North Pacific. Capitalizing on concurrent observations from satellite altimetry, FLEAT Spray gliders, and shipboard hydrography, the PIESs’ 10-month duration hourly bottom pressure p and round-trip acoustic travel time τ records are used to examine the magnitude and predictability of sea level and pycnocline depth changes and to track signal propagations through the array. Sea level and pycnocline depth are found to vary in response to a range of ocean processes, with their magnitude and predictability strongly process dependent. Signals characterized here comprise the barotropic tides, semidiurnal and diurnal internal tides, southeastward-propagating superinertial waves, westward-propagating mesoscale eddies, and a strong signature of sea level increase and pycnocline deepening associated with the region’s relaxation from El Niño to La Niña conditions. The presence of a broad band of superinertial waves just above the inertial frequency was unexpected and the FLEAT observations and output from a numerical model suggest that these waves detected near Palau are forced by remote winds east of the Philippines. The PIES-based estimates of pycnocline displacement are found to have large uncertainties relative to overall variability in pycnocline depth, as localized deep current variations arising from interactions of the large-scale currents with the abrupt topography around Palau have significant travel time variability.

Open access
Samuel Boury, Robert S. Pickart, Philippe Odier, Peigen Lin, Min Li, Elizabeth C. Fine, Harper L. Simmons, Jennifer A. MacKinnon, and Thomas Peacock

Abstract

Recent measurements and modeling indicate that roughly half of the Pacific-origin water exiting the Chukchi Sea shelf through Barrow Canyon forms a westward-flowing current known as the Chukchi Slope Current (CSC), yet the trajectory and fate of this current is presently unknown. In this study, through the combined use of shipboard velocity data and information from five profiling floats deployed as quasi-Lagrangian particles, we delve further into the trajectory and the fate of the CSC. During the period of observation, from early September to early October 2018, the CSC progressed far to the north into the Chukchi Borderland. The northward excursion is believed to result from the current negotiating Hanna Canyon on the Chukchi slope, consistent with potential vorticity dynamics. The volume transport of the CSC, calculated using a set of shipboard transects, decreased from approximately 2 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) to near zero over a period of 4 days. This variation can be explained by a concomitant change in the wind stress curl over the Chukchi shelf from positive to negative. After turning northward, the CSC was disrupted and four of the five floats veered offshore, with one of the floats permanently leaving the current. It is hypothesized that the observed disruption was due to an anticyclonic eddy interacting with the CSC, which has been observed previously. These results demonstrate that, at times, the CSC can get entrained into the Beaufort Gyre.

Free access
Elizabeth C. Fine, Jennifer A. MacKinnon, Matthew H. Alford, Leo Middleton, John Taylor, John B. Mickett, Sylvia T. Cole, Nicole Couto, Arnaud Le Boyer, and Thomas Peacock

Abstract

Pacific Summer Water eddies and intrusions transport heat and salt from boundary regions into the western Arctic basin. Here we examine concurrent effects of lateral stirring and vertical mixing using microstructure data collected within a Pacific Summer Water intrusion with a length scale of ∼20 km. This intrusion was characterized by complex thermohaline structure in which warm Pacific Summer Water interleaved in alternating layers of O(1) m thickness with cooler water, due to lateral stirring and intrusive processes. Along interfaces between warm/salty and cold/freshwater masses, the density ratio was favorable to double-diffusive processes. The rate of dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy (ε) was elevated along the interleaving surfaces, with values up to 3 × 10−8 W kg−1 compared to background ε of less than 10−9 W kg−1. Based on the distribution of ε as a function of density ratio Rρ, we conclude that double-diffusive convection is largely responsible for the elevated ε observed over the survey. The lateral processes that created the layered thermohaline structure resulted in vertical thermohaline gradients susceptible to double-diffusive convection, resulting in upward vertical heat fluxes. Bulk vertical heat fluxes above the intrusion are estimated in the range of 0.2–1 W m−2, with the localized flux above the uppermost warm layer elevated to 2–10 W m−2. Lateral fluxes are much larger, estimated between 1000 and 5000 W m−2, and set an overall decay rate for the intrusion of 1–5 years.

Open access