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  • Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Volume 636
  • October 2009, pp. 91-108

Low-mode internal tide generation by topography: an experimental and numerical investigation

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 25 September 2009

We analyse the low-mode structure of internal tides generated in laboratory experiments and numerical simulations by a two-dimensional ridge in a channel of finite depth. The height of the ridge is approximately half of the channel depth and the regimes considered span sub- to supercritical topography. For small tidal excursions, of the order of 1% of the topographic width, our results agree well with linear theory. For larger tidal excursions, up to 15% of the topographic width, we find that the scaled mode 1 conversion rate decreases by less than 15%, in spite of nonlinear phenomena that break down the familiar wave-beam structure and generate harmonics and inter-harmonics. Modes two and three, however, are more strongly affected. For this topographic configuration, most of the linear baroclinic energy flux is associated with the mode 1 tide, so our experiments reveal that nonlinear behaviour does not significantly affect the barotropic to baroclinic energy conversion in this regime, which is relevant to large-scale ocean ridges. This may not be the case, however, for smaller scale ridges that generate a response dominated by higher modes.

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