On internal waves propagating across a geostrophic front

Li, Qiang; Mao, Xianzhong; Huthnance, John; Cai, Shuqun; Kelly, Samuel. 2019 On internal waves propagating across a geostrophic front. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 49 (5). 1229-1248.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (4MB) | Preview


Reflection and transmission of normally-incident internal waves propagating across a geostrophic front, like the Kuroshio or Gulf Stream, are investigated using a modified linear internal-wave equation. A transformation from depth to buoyancy coordinates converts the equation to a canonical partial differential equation, sharing properties with conventional internal-wave theory in the absence of a front. The equation type is determined by a parameter Δ, which is a function of horizontal and vertical gradients of buoyancy, the intrinsic frequency of the wave and the effective inertial frequency, which incorporates the horizontal shear of background geostrophic flow. In the northern hemisphere, positive vorticity of the front may produce Δ≤0, i.e., a “forbidden zone”, in which wave solutions are not permitted. Thus, Δ=0 is a virtual boundary that causes wave reflection and refraction, although waves may tunnel through forbidden zones that are weak or narrow. The slope of the surface and bottom boundaries in buoyancy coordinates (or the slope of the virtual boundary if a forbidden zone is present) determine wave reflection and transmission. The reflection coefficient for normally-incident internal waves depends on rotation, isopycnal slope, topographic slope and incident mode number. The scattering rate to high vertical modes allows a bulk estimate of the mixing rate, although the impact of internal-waves driven mixing on the geostrophic front is neglected.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0022-3670
Date made live: 24 Apr 2019 13:43 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...