Fronts and near-inertial waves (NIWs) are energetic motions in the upper ocean that have been shown to interact and provide a route for kinetic energy (KE) dissipation of balanced oceanic flows. In this paper, we study these KE exchanges using an idealized model consisting of a two-dimensional geostrophically balanced front undergoing strain-induced semigeostrophic frontogenesis and internal wave (IW) vertical modes. The front–IW KE exchanges are quantified separately during two frontogenetic stages: an exponential sharpening stage that is characterized by a low Rossby number and is driven by the imposed strain (i.e., mesoscale frontogenesis), followed by a superexponential sharpening stage that is characterized by an
Fronts with large horizontal density and velocity gradients are ubiquitous in the upper ocean. They are generated by a process known as frontogenesis, which is often initialized by straining motions of mesoscale balanced circulations. Here we examine the energy exchanges between fronts and internal waves in an idealized configuration, aiming to elucidate the mechanisms that can drain energy from oceanic balanced circulations. We identify a new mechanism for energy transfers from the frontal circulation to near-inertial internal waves called convergence production. This mechanism is especially effective during the later stages of frontogenesis when the convergent ageostrophic secondary circulation that develops is strong.