Coupled acoustic mode propagation through continental-shelf internal solitary waves Academic Article uri icon


  • Three techniques are used to investigate mode coupling as acoustic energy passes through continental-shelf internal solitary waves (ISW's). Results from all techniques agree. The waves considered here are single downward undulations of a thermocline layer separating upper and lower well-mixed layers. Two techniques are numerical: parabolic equation (PE) solution and a sudden approximation joining range-invariant regions at sharp vertical interfaces. The third technique is an analytic derivation of ISW scale lengths separating adiabatic (at large scale) and coupled-mode propagation. Results show that energy is exchanged between modes as ISW's are traversed. The sharp interface solutions help explain this in terms of spatially confined coupling and modal phase interference. Three regimes are observed: 1) for short ISW's, coupling upon wave entrance is reversed upon exit, with no net coupling; 2) for ISW scales of 75-200 m, modal phase alteration averts the exit reversal, giving net coupling; transparent resonances yielding no net coupling are also observed in this regime; and 3) for long ISW's, adiabaticity is probable but not universal. Mode refraction analysis for nonparallel acoustic-ISW alignment suggests that these two-dimensional techniques remain valid for 0° (parallel) to 65° (oblique) incidence, with an accordant ISW stretching

publication date

  • April 1997