Modeling and Analysis of Internal-Tide Generation and Beamlike Onshore Propagation in the Vicinity of Shelfbreak Canyons Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • A hydrostatic numerical model with alongshore-uniform barotropic M2 tidal boundary forcing and idealized shelfbreak canyon bathymetries is used to study internal-tide generation and onshore propagation. A control simulation with Mid-Atlantic Bight representative bathymetry is supported by other simulations that serve to identify specific processes. The canyons and adjacent slopes are transcritical in steepness with respect to M2 internal wave characteristics. Although the various canyons are symmetrical in structure, barotropic-to-baroclinic energy conversion rates C? are typically asymmetrical within them. The resulting onshore-propagating internal waves are the strongest along beams in the horizontal plane, with the stronger beam in the control simulation lying on the side with higher C?. Analysis of the simulation results suggests that the cross-canyon asymmetrical C? distributions are caused by multiple-scattering effects on one canyon side slope, because the phase variation in the spatially distributed internal-tide sources, governed by variations in the orientation of the bathymetry gradient vector, allows resonant internal-tide generation. A less complex, semianalytical, modal internal wave propagation model with sources placed along the critical-slope locus (where the M2 internal wave characteristic is tangent to the seabed) and variable source phasing is used to diagnose the physics of the horizontal beams of onshore internal wave radiation. Model analysis explains how the cross-canyon phase and amplitude variations in the locally generated internal tides affect parameters of the internal-tide beams. Under the assumption that strong internal tides on continental shelves evolve to include nonlinear wave trains, the asymmetrical internal-tide generation and beam radiation effects may lead to nonlinear internal waves and enhanced mixing occurring preferentially on one side of shelfbreak canyons, in the absence of other influencing factors.

publication date

  • March 2014