Articles | Volume 20, issue 5
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 20, 743–757, 2013

Special issue: Nonlinear dynamics of the coastal zone

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 20, 743–757, 2013

Research article 09 Oct 2013

Research article | 09 Oct 2013

Transformation of internal solitary waves at the "deep" and "shallow" shelf: satellite observations and laboratory experiment

O. D. Shishkina1, J. K. Sveen2, and J. Grue2 O. D. Shishkina et al.
  • 1Institute of Applied Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
  • 2Mechanics Division, Department of Mathematics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Abstract. An interaction of internal solitary waves with the shelf edge in the time periods related to the presence of a pronounced seasonal pycnocline in the Red Sea and in the Alboran Sea is analysed via satellite photos and SAR images. Laboratory data on transformation of a solitary wave of depression while passing along the transverse bottom step were obtained in a tank with a two-layer stratified fluid. The certain difference between two characteristic types of hydrophysical phenomena was revealed both in the field observations and in experiments. The hydrological conditions for these two processes were named the "deep" and the "shallow" shelf respectively. The first one provides the generation of the secondary periodic short internal waves – "runaway" edge waves – due to change in the polarity of a part of a soliton approaching the shelf normally. Another one causes a periodic shear flow in the upper quasi-homogeneous water layer with the period of incident solitary wave. The strength of the revealed mechanisms depends on the thickness of the water layer between the pycnocline and the shelf bottom as well as on the amplitude of the incident solitary wave.