Recent mooring observations at a cross-channel section in Chesapeake Bay showed that internal solitary waves regularly appeared during certain phases of a tidal cycle and propagated from the deep channel to the shallow shoal. It was hypothesized that these waves resulted from the nonlinear steepening of internal lee waves generated by lateral currents over channel-shoal topography. In this study numerical modeling is conducted to investigate the interaction between lateral circulation and cross-channel topography and discern the generation mechanism of the internal lee waves. During ebb tides, lateral bottom Ekman forcing drives a counterclockwise (looking into estuary) lateral circulation, with strong currents advecting stratified water over the western flank of the deep channel and producing large isopycnal displacements. When the lateral flow becomes supercritical with respect to mode-2 internal waves, a mode-2 internal lee wave is generated on the flank of the deep channel and subsequently propagates onto the western shoal. When the bottom lateral flow becomes near-critical or supercritical with respect to mode-1 internal waves, the lee wave evolves into an internal hydraulic jump. On the shallow shoal, the lee waves or jumps evolve into internal bores of elevation.
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Physical Oceanography
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- 3049 to 3064
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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