Measurements and models of fine-structure, internal gravity waves and wave breaking in the deep ocean
Eriksen, Charles C.
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KeywordOcean waves; Internal waves; Gravity waves; Ocean currents; Fine-structure constant; Knorr (Ship : 1970-) Cruise KN52; Eastward (Ship) Cruise
Measurements of horizontal and vertical current by propeller cluster current meters and temperature by thermistors mounted on a rigid array 8 m high and 20 m long moored in the oceanic main thermocline near Bermuda are interpreted in terms of thermocline-trapped internal wave modes in the presence of temperature and density fine-structure. Two turning-point uniformly valid asymptotic solutions to the internal wave equation are developed to describe the wave functions. Mode decay beyond the turning point in depth or frequency produces a sharp cutoff in vertical current spectra above the local buoyancy frequency N(z). An internal wave wavenumber-frequency spectral model Ε(α,ω) = E(ω/No)-2 (α./α0)-2 describes vertical current spectra and potential energy to horizontal kinetic energy ratios. The red wavenumer shape suppresses peaks in both these quantities at frequencies near N(z). The data are consistent with time-averaged horizontal isotropy of the wave field. A dip in the vertical current spectra at 0.5 cph not predicted by the model appears related to the bottom slope. Temperature fine-structure is modeled as a passive vertical field advected by internal waves. Quasi-permanent fine-scale features of the stratification and vertically small-scale internal waves are indistinguishable in this study. The model of McKean (1974) is generalized to include fine-structure fields specified by their vertical wavenumber spectra as well as different Poisson-distributed layer models. Together with the trapped internal wave model, moored temperature spectra, temperature vertical difference spectra, and coherence over vertical separations are described using a fine-structure vertical wavenumber spectrum PT(k) =ATk-5/2 which agrees with other spectra made using vertical profiling instruments in the range 0.1 to 1.0 cpm. Horizontal current fine-structure is also modeled as a passive field advected vertically by long internal waves. The model describes moored horizontal current spectra (least successfully at frequencies near N(z)) and finite-difference vertical shear spectra. Contours of temperature in depth versus time indicate possible mixing events. These events appear concurrently with high shear and Richardson numbers O. 25≤ R ≤ 1.0. Over 7 m a cutoff in Ri at 0.25 is observed, indicating saturation of the internal wave spectrum. Spectra of finite-difference approximations to shear and buoyancy frequency are dominated by fine-structure contributions over nearly the whole internal wave range, suggesting that breaking is enhanced by fine-structure. Breaking appears equally likely at all frequencies in the internal wave range.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution September, 1976