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A simple model for an internal wave spectrum dominated by non-linear interactions
van Haren, H.; Maas, L. (2022). A simple model for an internal wave spectrum dominated by non-linear interactions. Tellus, Ser. A, Dyn. meteorol. oceanogr. 74(1): 382-390.
In: Tellus. Series A: Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography. Blackwell: Copenhagen. ISSN 0280-6495; e-ISSN 1600-0870, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    internal wave observations; Bay of Biscay; non-linear higher harmonics; advection model; forward cascade

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    Ocean motions at frequencies of the internal wave band are generally associated with freely propagating waves that are supported by stable vertical stratification in density. Previous analyses of yearlong current observations from the Bay of Biscay showed that a finestructure of semidiurnal tidal and near-inertial higher harmonics fills the spectrum. Here, a simple model is presented of forced nondispersive motions with forward energy cascade. The model fits the spectral shape of higher harmonics well within statistical significance and shows that such interactions imply maximum wave steepness in a balance between forcing and turbulent mixing. The single fitting parameter takes a value of approximately one, at which the barotropic tidal flow speed equals the internal wave phase speed. We infer that the barotropic tide sets a non-linear limit to baroclinic current scales without generating non-linear higher harmonics directly.

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