Internal solitons in the ocean and their effect on underwater sound. Academic Article uri icon


  • Nonlinear internal waves in the ocean are discussed (a) from the standpoint of soliton theory and (b) from the viewpoint of experimental measurements. First, theoretical models for internal solitary waves in the ocean are briefly described. Various nonlinear analytical solutions are treated, commencing with the well-known Boussinesq and Korteweg-de Vries equations. Then certain generalizations are considered, including effects of cubic nonlinearity, Earth's rotation, cylindrical divergence, dissipation, shear flows, and others. Recent theoretical models for strongly nonlinear internal waves are outlined. Second, examples of experimental evidence for the existence of solitons in the upper ocean are presented; the data include radar and optical images and in situ measurements of wave forms, propagation speeds, and dispersion characteristics. Third, and finally, action of internal solitons on sound wave propagation is discussed. This review paper is intended for researchers from diverse backgrounds, including acousticians, who may not be familiar in detail with soliton theory. Thus, it includes an outline of the basics of soliton theory. At the same time, recent theoretical and observational results are described which can also make this review useful for mainstream oceanographers and theoreticians.

publication date

  • February 2007