Shoaling internal waves may reduce gravity current transport
Gravity currents descending along slopes have typically been studied in quiescent environments, despite the fact that in many geophysical settings there is significant externally driven motion. Here we investigate how the head of a gravity current is influenced by interfacial internal waves at the pycnocline of a two-layer ambient water column. Our experimental measurements show that larger amplitude internal waves, interacting with the gravity current, reduce both the mass transport by the gravity current and its thickness. These results suggest that the ambient internal wave field should be considered when estimating transport by gravity currents in geophysical settings with strong internal waves, such as lakes and the coastal ocean.
KeywordsGravity currents Internal waves Desalination Coastal ocean processes Limnology River inflows
We gratefully acknowledge assistance in the lab from Valerie Pietraz, Bill Sabala and Michelle Dutt. This work was supported by National Science Foundation Grant No. OCE—1634389 and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
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