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Shear Instability and Turbulent Mixing in the Stratified Shear Flow Behind a Topographic Ridge at High Reynolds NumberObservations on the lee of a topographic ridge show that the turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rate due to shear instabilities is three orders of magnitude higher than the typical value in the open ocean. Laboratory-scale studies at low Reynolds number suggest that high turbulent dissipation occurs primarily within the core region of shear instabilities. However, field-scale studies indicate that high turbulence is mainly populated along the braids of shear instabilities. In this study, a high-resolution, resolving the Ozmidov-scale, non-hydrostatic model with Large Eddy Simulation (LES) turbulent closure is applied to investigate dominant mechanisms that control the spatial and temporal scales of shear instabilities and resulting mixing in stratified shear flow at high Reynolds number. The simulated density variance dissipation rate is elevated in the cusp-like bands of shear instabilities with a specific period, consistent with the acoustic backscatter taken by shipboard echo sounder. The vertical length scale of each cusp-like band is nearly half of the vertical length scale of the internal lee wave. However, it is consistent with instabilities originating from a shear layer based on linear stability theory. The model results indicate that the length scale and/or the period of shear instabilities are the key parameters tomore »
Large-amplitude internal solitary wave (ISW) shoaling, breaking, and run-up was tracked continuously by a dense and rapidly sampling array spanning depths from 500 m to shore near Dongsha Atoll in the South China Sea. Incident ISW amplitudes ranged between 78 and 146 m with propagation speeds between 1.40 and 2.38 m s−1. The ratio between wave amplitude and a critical amplitude
A0controlled breaking type and was related to wave speed cpand depth. Fissioning ISWs generated larger trailing elevation waves when the thermocline was deep and evolved into onshore propagating bores in depths near 100 m. Collapsing ISWs contained significant mixing and little upslope bore propagation. Bores contained significant onshore near-bottom kinetic and potential energy flux and significant offshore rundown and relaxation phases before and after the bore front passage, respectively. Bores on the shallow forereef drove bottom temperature variation in excess of 10°C and near-bottom cross-shore currents in excess of 0.4 m s−1. Bores decelerated upslope, consistent with upslope two-layer gravity current theory, though run-up extent Xrwas offshore of the predicted gravity current location. Background stratification affected the bore run-up, with Xrfarther offshore when the Korteweg–de Vries nonlinearity coefficient αwas negative. Fronts associated with the shoaling local internal tide, but equal in magnitude tomore »
Direct measurements reveal instabilities and turbulence within large amplitude internal solitary waves beneath the oceanAbstract Internal solitary waves are ubiquitous in coastal regions and marginal seas of the world’s oceans. As the waves shoal shoreward, they lose the energy obtained from ocean tides through globally significant turbulent mixing and dissipation and consequently pump nutrient-rich water to nourish coastal ecosystem. Here we present fine-scale, direct measurements of shoaling internal solitary waves in the South China Sea, which allow for an examination of the physical processes triggering the intensive turbulent mixing in their interior. These are convective breaking in the wave core and the collapse of Kelvin–Helmholtz billows in the wave rear and lower periphery of the core, often occurring simultaneously. The former takes place when the particle velocity exceeds the wave’s propagating velocity. The latter is caused by the instability induced by the strong velocity shear overcoming the stratification. The instabilities generate turbulence levels four orders of magnitude larger than that in the open ocean.