Long-Range Propagation of the Semidiurnal Internal Tide from the Hawaiian Ridge

Zhao, ZX, Alford MH, MacKinnon JA, Pinkel R.  2010.  Long-Range Propagation of the Semidiurnal Internal Tide from the Hawaiian Ridge. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 40:713-736.

Date Published:



altimeter data, baroclinic tide, central north pacific, deep-ocean, dissipation, energy fluxes, global patterns, turbulence, Wave propagation


The northeastward progression of the semidiurnal internal tide from French Frigate Shoals (FFS), Hawaii, is studied with an array of six simultaneous profiling moorings spanning 25.5 degrees-37.1 degrees N (approximate to 1400 km) and 13-yr-long Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX)/Poseidon (TIP) altimeter data processed by a new technique. The moorings have excellent temporal and vertical resolutions, while the altimeter offers broad spatial coverage of the surface manifestation of the internal tide's coherent portion. Together these two approaches provide a unique view of the internal tide's long-range propagation in a complex ocean environment. The moored observations reveal a rich, time-variable, and multimodal internal tide field, with higher-mode motions contributing significantly to velocity, displacement, and energy. In spite of these contributions, the coherent mode-1 internal tide dominates the northeastward energy flux, and is detectable in both moored and altimetric data over the entire array. Phase and group propagation measured independently from moorings and altimetry agree well with theoretical values. Sea surface height anomalies (SSHAs) measured from moorings and altimetry agree well in amplitude and phase until the northern end of the array, where phase differences arise presumably from refraction by mesoscale flows. Observed variations in SSHA, energy flux, and kinetic-to-potential energy ratio indicate an interference pattern resulting from superposed northeastward radiation from Hawaii and southeastward from the Aleutian Ridge. A simple model of two plane waves explains most of these features.