Articles | Volume 20, issue 1
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 20, 59–69, 2013
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 20, 59–69, 2013

Research article 16 Jan 2013

Research article | 16 Jan 2013

Analysis of asymmetries in propagating mode-2 waves

J. Olsthoorn, A. Baglaenko, and M. Stastna J. Olsthoorn et al.
  • University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Abstract. Using numerical simulations performed with a pseudo-spectral incompressible Navier–Stokes solver, we describe the asymmetries that arise in the recirculating core of mode-2 internal, solitary-like waves. The waves are generated in a manner consistent with many laboratory studies, namely via the collapse of a region of mixed fluid. Analysis of the simulations reveals that asymmetries across both the wave crest and the pycnocline centre develop in the spatial distribution of density, kinetic energy and a passive tracer transported by the mode-2 waves. The simulations are extended to three-dimensions to allow for the formation of spanwise instabilities. We find that three-dimensionalization modifies the structure and energetics of the core, but that the majority of the results obtained from two dimensional simulations remain valid. Taken together, our simulations demonstrate that the cores of solitary-like mode-2 waves are different then their counterparts for mode-1 waves and that their accurate characterization on both lab and field scales should account for the core asymmetry across the pycnocline centre.