The evolution of mode-2 nonlinear internal waves over the northern Heng-Chun Ridge south of Taiwan
- 1Soliton Ocean Services, Inc., Carmel Valley, CA 93924, USA
- 2Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
- 3Department of Oceanography, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA 93943, USA
- 4University of Southern Mississippi, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529, USA
- 5Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA
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.