Winter PRIMER Ocean-Acoustic Solitary Wave Modeling Studies Academic Article uri icon


  • In this paper, we present results from a joint oceanographic-acoustic study of solitary waves and their effects during the 1997 winter PRIMER4 experiment on the shelfbreak south of Cape Cod, MA. The study addresses the acoustic effects induced by solitary waves and associated oceanographic phenomena. Solitary wave generation and propagation simulations are produced by the Lamb model [J. Geophys. Res., vol. 99, pp. 848-864, 1994]. The model is nonhydrostatic and is formulated in 2.5 dimensions using terrain following coordinates. Acoustic field calculations are performed with a parabolic equation acoustic model along the path of solitary wave train propagation. The oceanographic model is initialized from density profiles derived from conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) casts using analytical functions. The model is forced with a prescribed semidiurnal tidal velocity. An ocean background current is introduced. Simulations based on parameters derived from measurements show the following: 1) internal solitary waves of elevation propagate onto the shelfbreak region; 2) opposing ocean currents enhance the formation of solitary waves at the shelfbreak; 3) deepening of the winter mixed layer results in less penetration of the solitary waves on to the shelf; 4) density structure, mixed-layer depth, tidal forcing, and ocean currents control the formation of solitary waves of elevation at the shelfbreak; 5) energy conversion, from semidiurnal barotropic to semidiurnal barcoclinic tides and to internal solitary waves, occurs; 6) amplitudes and periods of modeled solitary waves are in the range of thermistor chain measurements; and 7) lower mixed-layer densities increase the phase speed of simulated solitary waves. Acoustic field calculations are coupled to the propagation of the solitary wave packets through the sound-speed changes that are derived from the oceanographic simulations. Acoustic model predictions show signal intensity fluctuations similar to the anomalous loses in acoustic energy observed in the Yellow Sea data taken by Zhou et al. [J. Acoust. Soc. Amer., vol. 90, pp. 2042-2054, 1991]. In some cases, the presence of solitary waves on the shelf enhances the propagation of acoustic energy onto the shelf. This was observed for acoustic simulations where the acoustic source was located beyond the shelfbreak and at a depth greater than the shelf depth.

publication date

  • April 2007