Energy Flux and Dissipation in Luzon Strait: Two Tales of Two Ridges

Alford, MH, MacKinnon JA, Nash JD, Simmons H, Pickering A, Klymak JM, Pinkel R, Sun O, Rainville L, Musgrave R, Beitzel T, Fu KH, Lu CW.  2011.  Energy Flux and Dissipation in Luzon Strait: Two Tales of Two Ridges. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 41:2211-2222.

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generation, hawaiian ridge, internal tide, model, ocean, propagation, south china sea, topography, turbulence


Internal tide generation, propagation, and dissipation are investigated in Luzon Strait, a system of two quasi-parallel ridges situated between Taiwan and the Philippines. Two profiling moorings deployed for about 20 days and a set of nineteen 36-h lowered ADCP-CTD time series stations allowed separate measurement of diurnal and semidiurnal internal tide signals. Measurements were concentrated on a northern line, where the ridge spacing was approximately equal to the mode-1 wavelength for semidiurnal motions, and a southern line, where the spacing was approximately two-thirds that. The authors contrast the two sites to emphasize the potential importance of resonance between generation sites. Throughout Luzon Strait, baroclinic energy, energy fluxes, and turbulent dissipation were some of the strongest ever measured. Peak-to-peak baroclinic velocity and vertical displacements often exceeded 2 m s(-1) and 300 m, respectively. Energy fluxes exceeding 60 kW m(-1) were measured at spring tide at the western end of the southern line. On the northern line, where the western ridge generates appreciable eastward-moving signals, net energy flux between the ridges was much smaller, exhibiting a nearly standing wave pattern. Overturns tens to hundreds of meters high were observed at almost all stations. Associated dissipation was elevated in the bottom 500-1000 m but was strongest by far atop the western ridge on the northern line, where >500-m overturns resulted in dissipation exceeding 2 x 10(-6) W kg(-1) (implying diapycnal diffusivity K(rho) > 0.2 m(2) s(-1)). Integrated dissipation at this location is comparable to conversion and flux divergence terms in the energy budget. The authors speculate that resonance between the two ridges may partly explain the energetic motions and heightened dissipation.