Mesoscale Eddy–Internal Wave Coupling. Part I: Symmetry, Wave Capture, and Results from the Mid-Ocean Dynamics Experiment Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Vertical profiles of horizontal velocity obtained during the Mid-Ocean Dynamics Experiment (MODE) provided the first published estimates of the high vertical wavenumber structure of horizontal velocity. The data were interpreted as being representative of the background internal wave field, and thus, despite some evidence of excess downward energy propagation associated with coherent near-inertial features that was interpreted in terms of atmospheric generation, these data provided the basis for a revision to the Garrett and Munk spectral model. These data are reinterpreted through the lens of 30 years of research. Rather than representing the background wave field, atmospheric generation, or even near-inertial wave trapping, the coherent high wavenumber features are characteristic of internal wave capture in a mesoscale strain field. Wave capture represents a generalization of critical layer events for flows lacking the spatial symmetry inherent in a parallel shear flow or isolated vortex.

publication date

  • November 1, 2008