Observations of Nonlinear Internal Wave Run-Up to the Surfzone

Sinnett, G, Feddersen F, Lucas AJ, Pawlak G, Terrill E.  2018.  Observations of Nonlinear Internal Wave Run-Up to the Surfzone. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 48:531-554.


AbstractThe cross-shore evolution of nonlinear internal waves (NLIWs) from 8-m depth to shore was observed by a dense thermistor array and ADCP. Isotherm oscillations spanned much of the water column at a variety of periods. At times, NLIWs propagated into the surfzone, decreasing temperature by ≈1°C in 5 min. When stratification was strong, temperature variability was strong and coherent from 18- to 6-m depth at semidiurnal and harmonic periods. When stratification weakened, temperature variability decreased and was incoherent between 18- and 6-m depth at all frequencies. At 8-m depth, onshore coherently propagating NLIW events had associated rapid temperature drops (ΔT) up to 1.7°C, front velocity between 1.4 and 7.4 cm s−1, and incidence angles between −5° and 23°. Front position, ΔT, and two-layer equivalent height zIW of four events were tracked upslope until propagation terminated. Front position was quadratic in time, and normalized ΔT and zIW both decreased, collapsing as a linearly decaying function of normalized cross-shore distance. Front speed and deceleration are consistent with two-layer upslope gravity current scalings. During NLIW rundown, near-surface cooling and near-bottom warming at 8-m depth coincide with a critical gradient Richardson number, indicating shear-driven mixing.