Articles | Volume 22, issue 4
Research article
27 Jul 2015
Research article |  | 27 Jul 2015

The evolution of mode-2 nonlinear internal waves over the northern Heng-Chun Ridge south of Taiwan

S. R. Ramp, Y. J. Yang, D. B. Reeder, M. C. Buijsman, and F. L. Bahr

Abstract. Two research cruises were conducted from the R/V OCEAN RESEARCHER 3 during 05–16 August 2011 to study the generation and propagation of high-frequency nonlinear internal waves (NLIWs) over the northern Heng-Chun Ridge south of Taiwan. The primary study site was on top of a smaller ridge about 15 km wide by 400 m high atop the primary ridge, with a sill depth of approximately 600 m. A single mooring was used in conjunction with shipboard observations to sample the temperature, salinity and velocity structure over the ridge. All the sensors observed a profusion of mode-2 NLIWs. Some of the waves were solitary, while others had as many as seven evenly spaced waves per packet. The waves all exhibited classic mode-2 velocity structure with a core near 150–200 m and opposing velocities in the layers above and below. At least two and possibly three most common propagation directions emerged from the analysis, suggesting multiple generation sites near the eastern side of the ridge. The turbulent dissipation due to overturns in the wave cores was very high at order 10−4–10−3 W kg−1. The energy budget suggests that the waves cannot persist very far from the ridge and likely do not contribute to the South China Sea transbasin wave phenomenon.

Short summary
Highly energetic mode-2 nonlinear internal waves were found to be generated at several sites near the northern Heng-Chun (western) Ridge south of Taiwan. The local environment however was highly dissipative, and the energy budget suggests that little wave energy escapes the ridge to contribute to the large transbasin waves that have been previously observed in other studies.