3 years ago

Seismic estimates of turbulent diffusivity and evidence of nonlinear internal wave forcing by geometric resonance in the South China Sea

W.F.J. Fortin, W.S. Holbrook, R.W. Schmitt
The Luzon Passage generates some of the largest amplitude internal waves in the global ocean as the result of coupling between strong tides, strong stratification, and topography. These internal waves propagate into the South China Sea (SCS) and develop into soliton-like internal wave pulses that are observed by moored instruments and satellite backscatter data. Despite the observation of these waves, little is known of the mechanisms related to their evolution into nonlinear wave pulses. Using seismic data, we find evidence that the geometry of bathymetric conditions between the Heng-Chun and Lan-Yu ridges drive nonlinear internal wave pulse generation. We produce three seismic images and associated maps of turbulent diffusivity to investigate structure around the two ridges and into the SCS. We do not observe large amplitude soliton-like internal waves between the ridges, but do observe one outside the ridges, a finding in accord with the interpretation that wave pulses form due to geometrical resonance. Additionally, we find no evidence for lee wave activity above the ridges in either the seismic images or associated turbulence maps, suggesting an unlikelihood of hydraulic jump driven generation around the ridges. Our results show increased levels of turbulent diffusivity (1) in deep water below 1000m, (2) associated with internal tide pulses, and (3) near the steep slopes of the Heng-Chun and Lan-Yu ridges as explored in this paper.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/2017JC012690

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