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Acta Oceanologica Sinica

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Is the small-scale turbulence an exclusive breaking product of oceanic internal waves

  • Zhisong FanEmail author
Article

Abstract

On the basis of the theoretical research results by the author and the literature published up to date, the analysis and the justification presented in this paper show that the breaking products of oceanic internal waves are not only turbulence, but also the fine-scale near-inertial internal waves (the oceanic reversible finestructure) for inertial waves and the internal solitary waves for internal tides respectively. It was found that the oceanic reversible finestructure may be induced by the effect of the horizontal component \(\tilde f(\tilde f = 2\Omega cos\varphi )\) of the rotation vector on inertial waves. And a new instability of the theoretical shear and strain spectra due to the effect of \(\tilde f\) occurs at critical vertical wavenumber β c≈0.1 cpm. It happens when the levels of shear and strain of the reversible finestructure are higher than those of inertial waves, which is induced by the effect of \(\tilde f\) along an “iso-potential-pycnal” of internal wave. If all breaking products of internal waves are taken into account, the average kinetic energy dissipation rate is an order of magnitude larger than the values of turbulence observed by microstructure measurements. The author’s theoretical research results are basically in agreement with those observed in IWEX, DRIFTER and PATCHEX experiments. An important impersonal fact is that on the mean temporal scale of thermohaline circulation these breaking products of internal waves exist simultaneously with turbulence. Because inertial waves are generated by winds at the surface, and internal tides are generated by strong tide-topography interactions, the analysis and justification in this paper support in principle the abyssal recipes II: energetics of tidal and wind mixing by Munk & Wunsch in 1998, in despite of the results of microstructure measurements for the turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate and the diapycnal turbulent eddy diffusivity.

Key words

internal waves inertial waves internal tides turbulence oceanic interior mixing 

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Copyright information

© The Chinese Society of Oceanography and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Physical and Environmental OceanographyOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina

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