Energy transfer from high-shear, low-frequency internal waves to high-frequency waves near Kaena Ridge, Hawaii

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Sun, Oliver M. T.
Pinkel, Robert
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Diapycnal mixing
Energy transport
Internal waves
Nonlinear dynamics
Ship observations
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Evidence is presented for the transfer of energy from low-frequency inertial–diurnal internal waves to high-frequency waves in the band between 6 cpd and the buoyancy frequency. This transfer links the most energetic waves in the spectrum, those receiving energy directly from the winds, barotropic tides, and parametric subharmonic instability, with those most directly involved in the breaking process. Transfer estimates are based on month-long records of ocean velocity and temperature obtained continuously over 80–800 m from the research platform (R/P) Floating Instrument Platform (FLIP) in the Hawaii Ocean Mixing Experiment (HOME) Nearfield (2002) and Farfield (2001) experiments, in Hawaiian waters. Triple correlations between low-frequency vertical shears and high-frequency Reynolds stresses, uiw∂Ui/∂z, are used to estimate energy transfers. These are supported by bispectral analysis, which show significant energy transfers to pairs of waves with nearly identical frequency. Wavenumber bispectra indicate that the vertical scales of the high-frequency waves are unequal, with one wave of comparable scale to that of the low-frequency parent and the other of much longer scale. The scales of the high-frequency waves contrast with the classical pictures of induced diffusion and elastic scattering interactions and violates the scale-separation assumption of eikonal models of interaction. The possibility that the observed waves are Doppler shifted from intrinsic frequencies near f or N is explored. Peak transfer rates in the Nearfield, an energetic tidal conversion site, are on the order of 2 × 10−7 W kg−1 and are of similar magnitude to estimates of turbulent dissipation that were made near the ridge during HOME. Transfer rates in the Farfield are found to be about half the Nearfield values.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2012. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 42 (2012): 1524–1547, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-11-0117.1.
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Journal of Physical Oceanography 42 (2012): 1524–1547
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