Internal solitary waves on the Saya de Malha bank of the Mascarene Plateau: SAR observations and interpretation

New, A.L.; Magalhaes, J.M.; da Silva, J.C.B.. 2013 Internal solitary waves on the Saya de Malha bank of the Mascarene Plateau: SAR observations and interpretation. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 79. 50-61.

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Energetic Internal Solitary Waves (ISWs) were recently discovered radiating from the central region of the Mascarene Plateau in the south-western Indian Ocean (da Silva et al., 2011). SAR imagery revealed the two-dimensional structure of the waves which propagated for several hundred kilometres in deep water both to the east and west of a sill, located near 12.5°S, 61°E between the Saya de Malha and Nazareth banks. These waves were presumed to originate from the disintegration of a large lee wave formed on the western side of the sill at the time of maximum barotropic flow to the west. In the present paper we focus instead on ISWs propagating in the shallow water above the Saya da Malha (SM) bank (to the north of the sill), rather than on those propagating in deep water (here denominated as type-I or -II waves if propagating to the west or east respectively). Analysis of an extended SAR image dataset reveals strong sea surface signatures of complex patterns of ISWs propagating over the SM bank arising from different sources. We identify three distinct types of waves, and propose suitable generation mechanisms for them using synergy from different remotely sensed datasets, together with analyses of linear phase speeds (resulting from local stratification and bathymetry). In particular, we find a family of ISWs (termed here A-type waves) which results from the disintegration of a lee wave which forms on the western slopes of SM. We also identify two further wave trains (B- and C-type waves) which we suggest result from refraction of the deep water type-I and -II waves onto the SM bank. Therefore, both B- and C-type waves can be considered to result from the same generation source as the type-I and -II waves. Finally, we consider the implications of the ISWs for mixing and biological production over the SM bank, and provide direct evidence, from ocean colour satellite images, of enhanced surface chlorophyll over a shallow topographic feature on the bank, which is consistent with the breaking of the ISWs.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 09670637
Additional Keywords: Internal solitary waves; Synthetic Aperture Radar; Internal wave generation; Lee waves; Mascarene Plateau; Indian Ocean
Date made live: 12 Aug 2013 08:43 +0 (UTC)

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