Articles | Volume 17, issue 5
Research article
13 Oct 2010
Research article |  | 13 Oct 2010

Numerical simulations of the local generation of internal solitary waves in the Bay of Biscay

N. Grisouard and C. Staquet

Abstract. Oceanic observations from the Bay of Biscay, Portugal, Mozambique Channel and Mascarene Ridge have provided evidence of the generation of internal solitary waves due to an internal tidal beam impinging on the thermocline from below – a process referred to as "local generation". Here we present two-dimensional numerical simulations with a fully nonlinear nonhydrostatic model of situations that are relevant for the Bay of Biscay in summer. We show that a beam impinging on a thermocline initially at rest can induce a displacement of the isopycnals, large enough for internal solitary waves to be generated. These internal solitary waves however differ from those observed in the Bay of Biscay through their amplitude and distance between wave trains. We then show that the latter feature is recovered when the background flow around the thermocline as found in the Bay of Biscay is included in the forcing, thereby yielding a more accurate view on the local generation mechanism.