On the interaction of short linear internal waves with internal solitary waves
Abstract. We study the interaction of small-scale internal wave packets with a large-scale internal solitary wave using high-resolution direct numerical simulations in two dimensions. A key finding is that for wave packets whose constituent waves are short in comparison to the solitary wave width, the interaction leads to an almost complete destruction of the short waves. For mode-1 short waves in the packet, as the wavelength increases, a cutoff is reached, and for larger wavelengths the waves in the packet are able to maintain their structure after the interaction. This cutoff corresponds to the wavelength at which the phase speed of the short waves upstream of the solitary wave exceeds the maximum current induced by the solitary wave. For mode-2 waves in the packet, however, no corresponding cutoff is found. Analysis based on linear theory suggests that the destruction of short waves occurs primarily due to the velocity shear induced by the solitary wave, which alters the vertical structure of the waves so that significant wave activity is found only above (below) the deformed pycnocline for overtaking (head-on) collisions. The deformation of vertical structure is more significant for waves with a smaller wavelength. Consequently, it is more difficult for these waves to adjust to the new solitary-wave-induced background environment. These results suggest that through the interaction with relatively smaller length scale waves, internal solitary waves can provide a means to decrease the power observed in the short-wave band in the coastal ocean.