Articles | Volume 17, issue 5
08 Oct 2010
 | 08 Oct 2010

Energetics of internal solitary waves in a background sheared current

K. G. Lamb

Abstract. The energetics of internal waves in the presence of a background sheared current is explored via numerical simulations for four different situations based on oceanographic conditions: the nonlinear interaction of two internal solitary waves; an internal solitary wave shoaling through a turning point; internal solitary wave reflection from a sloping boundary and a deep-water internal seiche trapped in a deep basin. In the simulations with variable water depth using the Boussinesq approximation the combination of a background sheared current, bathymetry and a rigid lid results in a change in the total energy of the system due to the work done by a pressure change that is established across the domain. A final simulation of the deep-water internal seiche in which the Boussinesq approximation is not invoked and a diffuse air-water interface is added to the system results in the energy remaining constant because the generation of surface waves prevents the establishment of a net pressure increase across the domain. The difference in the perturbation energy in the Boussinesq and non-Boussinesq simulations is accounted for by the surface waves.