A reflecting, steepening, and breaking internal tide in a submarine canyon

TitleA reflecting, steepening, and breaking internal tide in a submarine canyon
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsAlberty M.S, Billheimer S., Hamann M.M, Ou C.Y, Tamsitt V., Lucas A.J, Alford MH
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-Oceans
Volume122
Pagination6872-6882
Date Published2017/08
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2169-9275
Accession NumberWOS:000410790600047
Keywordscurrents; hawaii; monterey canyon; ocean; overturns; propagation; scales; sloping boundaries; thorpe; waves
Abstract

Submarine canyons are common features of the coastal ocean. Although they are known to be hotspots of turbulence that enhance diapycnal transport in their stratified waters, the dynamics of canyon mixing processes are poorly understood. Most studies of internal wave dynamics within canyons have focused on a handful of canyons with along-axis slopes less steep than semidiurnal (D-2) internal wave characteristics (subcritical). Here, we present the first tidally resolving observations within a canyon with a steeply sloping axis (supercritical). A process study consisting of two 24 h shipboard stations and a profiling mooring was conducted in the La Jolla Canyon off the coast of La Jolla, CA. Baroclinic energy flux is oriented up-canyon and decreases from 182 +/- 18 W m(-1) at the canyon mouth to 46 +/- 5 W m(-1) near the head. The ratio of horizontal kinetic energy to available potential energy and the observed group speed of each mode are lower than expected for freely propagating D-2 internal waves at each station, indicating partial reflection. Harmonic analysis reveals that variance is dominated by the D-2 tide. Moving up-canyon, the relative importance of D-2 decreases and its higher harmonics are needed to account for a majority of the observed variance, indicating steepening. Steep internal tides cause large isopycnal displacements (approximate to 50 m in 100 m water depth) and high strain events. These events coincide with enhanced O( 10-7-10-5 m(2) s(-3)) dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy at mid-depths.

DOI10.1002/2016jc012583
Short TitleJ Geophys Res-Oceans
Student Publication: 
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