Publications

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2016
Klymak, JM, Simmons HL, Braznikov D, Kelly S, MacKinnon JA, Alford MH, Pinkel R, Nash JD.  2016.  Reflection of linear internal tides from realistic topography: The Tasman continental slope. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 46:3321-3337.   10.1175/jpo-d-16-0061.1   AbstractWebsite

The reflection of a low-mode internal tide on the Tasman continental slope is investigated using simulations of realistic and simplified topographies. The slope is supercritical to the internal tide, which should predict a large fraction of the energy reflected. However, the response to the slope is complicated by a number of factors: the incoming beam is confined laterally, it impacts the slope at an angle, there is a roughly cylindrical rise directly offshore of the slope, and a leaky slope-mode wave is excited. These effects are isolated in simulations that simplify the topography. To separate the incident from the reflected signal, a response without the reflector is subtracted from the total response to arrive at a reflected signal. The real slope reflects approximately 65% of themode-1 internal tide asmode 1, less than two-dimensional linear calculations predict, because of the three-dimensional concavity of the topography. It is also less than recent glider estimates, likely as a result of along-slope inhomogeneity. The inhomogeneity of the response comes from the Tasman Rise that diffracts the incoming tidal beam into two beams: one focused along beam and one diffracted to the north. Along-slope inhomogeneity is enhanced by a partially trapped, superinertial slope wave that propagates along the continental slope, locally removing energy from the deep-water internal tide and reradiating it into the deep water farther north. This wave is present even in a simplified, straight slope topography; its character can be predicted from linear resonance theory, and it represents up to 30% of the local energy budget.

Musgrave, RC, MacKinnon JA, Pinkel R, Waterhouse AF, Nash J.  2016.  Tidally driven processes leading to near-field turbulence in a channel at the crest of the Mendocino Escarpment*. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 46:1137-1155.   10.1175/jpo-d-15-0021.1   AbstractWebsite

In situ observations of tidally driven turbulence were obtained in a small channel that transects the crest of the Mendocino Ridge, a site of mixed (diurnal and semidiurnal) tides. Diurnal tides are subinertial at this latitude, and once per day a trapped tide leads to large flows through the channel giving rise to tidal excursion lengths comparable to the width of the ridge crest. During these times, energetic turbulence is observed in the channel, with overturns spanning almost half of the full water depth. A high-resolution, nonhydrostatic, 2.5-dimensional simulation is used to interpret the observations in terms of the advection of a breaking tidal lee wave that extends from the ridge crest to the surface and the subsequent development of a hydraulic jump on the flanks of the ridge. Modeled dissipation rates show that turbulence is strongest on the flanks of the ridge and that local dissipation accounts for 28% of the energy converted from the barotropic tide into baroclinic motion.

2015
Alford, MH, Peacock T, MacKinnon JA, Nash JD, Buijsman MC, Centuroni LR, Chao SY, Chang MH, Farmer DM, Fringer OB, Fu KH, Gallacher PC, Graber HC, Helfrich KR, Jachec SM, Jackson CR, Klymak JM, Ko DS, Jan S, Johnston TMS, Legg S, Lee IH, Lien RC, Mercier MJ, Moum JN, Musgrave R, Park JH, Pickering AI, Pinkel R, Rainville L, Ramp SR, Rudnick DL, Sarkar S, Scotti A, Simmons HL, St Laurent LC, Venayagamoorthy SK, Hwang Y, Wang J, Yang YJ, Paluszkiewicz T, Tang TY.  2015.  The formation and fate of internal waves in the South China Sea. Nature. 521:65-U381.   10.1038/nature14399   AbstractWebsite

Internal gravity waves, the subsurface analogue of the familiar surface gravity waves that break on beaches, are ubiquitous in the ocean. Because of their strong vertical and horizontal currents, and the turbulent mixing caused by their breaking, they affect a panoply of ocean processes, such as the supply of nutrients for photosynthesis(1), sediment and pollutant transport(2) and acoustic transmission(3); they also pose hazards for man-made structures in the ocean(4). Generated primarily by the wind and the tides, internal waves can travel thousands of kilometres from their sources before breaking(5), making it challenging to observe them and to include them in numerical climate models, which are sensitive to their effects(6,7). For over a decade, studies(8-11) have targeted the South China Sea, where the oceans' most powerful known internal waves are generated in the Luzon Strait and steepen dramatically as they propagate west. Confusion has persisted regarding their mechanism of generation, variability and energy budget, however, owing to the lack of in situ data from the Luzon Strait, where extreme flow conditions make measurements difficult. Here we use new observations and numerical models to (1) show that the waves begin as sinusoidal disturbances rather than arising from sharp hydraulic phenomena, (2) reveal the existence of >200-metre-high breaking internal waves in the region of generation that give rise to turbulence levels >10,000 times that in the open ocean, (3) determine that the Kuroshio western boundary current noticeably refracts the internal wave field emanating from the Luzon Strait, and (4) demonstrate a factor-of-two agreement between modelled and observed energy fluxes, which allows us to produce an observationally supported energy budget of the region. Together, these findings give a cradle-to-grave picture of internal waves on a basin scale, which will support further improvements of their representation in numerical climate predictions.

2014
Buijsman, MC, Klymak JM, Legg S, Alford MH, Farmer D, MacKinnon JA, Nash JD, Park JH, Pickering A, Simmons H.  2014.  Three-dimensional double-ridge internal tide resonance in Luzon Strait. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 44:850-869.   10.1175/jpo-d-13-024.1   AbstractWebsite

The three-dimensional (3D) double-ridge internal tide interference in the Luzon Strait in the South China Sea is examined by comparing 3D and two-dimensional (2D) realistic simulations. Both the 3D simulations and observations indicate the presence of 3D first-mode (semi)diurnal standing waves in the 3.6-km-deep trench in the strait. As in an earlier 2D study, barotropic-to-baroclinic energy conversion, flux divergence, and dissipation are greatly enhanced when semidiurnal tides dominate relative to periods dominated by diurnal tides. The resonance in the 3D simulation is several times stronger than in the 2D simulations for the central strait. Idealized experiments indicate that, in addition to ridge height, the resonance is only a function of separation distance and not of the along-ridge length; that is, the enhanced resonance in 3D is not caused by 3D standing waves or basin modes. Instead, the difference in resonance between the 2D and 3D simulations is attributed to the topographic blocking of the barotropic flow by the 3D ridges, affecting wave generation, and a more constructive phasing between the remotely generated internal waves, arriving under oblique angles, and the barotropic tide. Most of the resonance occurs for the first mode. The contribution of the higher modes is reduced because of 3D radiation, multiple generation sites, scattering, and a rapid decay in amplitude away from the ridge.

2011
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.   10.1175/jpo-d-11-073.1   AbstractWebsite

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.

2008
MacKinnon, JA, Johnston TMS, Pinkel R.  2008.  Strong transport and mixing of deep water through the Southwest Indian Ridge. Nature Geoscience. 1:755-758.   10.1038/ngeo340   AbstractWebsite

The Indian Ocean harbours an important but poorly understood part of the global meridional ocean overturning circulation, which transports heat to high latitudes(1). Understanding heat exchange in the Indian Ocean requires knowledge of the magnitudes and locations of both meridional deep-water transport and mixing, but in particular the latter is poorly constrained at present(2,3). Here we present detailed measurements of transport and mixing in the Atlantis II fracture zone in the Southwest Indian Ridge, one of the main conduits for equatorward-flowing deep water(4,5). We observe a northward jet of deep and bottom water extending 1,000 m vertically with a transport rate of 3 x 10(6) m(3) s(-1). Turbulent diffusivity within the jet was up to two orders of magnitude above typical deep ocean levels in our measurements. Our results quantify the flow through this narrow fracture zone to 20 to 30% of the total meridional overturning circulation in the Indian Ocean, and provide an example of elevated turbulence in a deep sheared flow that is not hydraulically controlled, in contrast to many other fracture zones(6-9).

2007
Alford, MH, MacKinnon JA, Zhao ZX, Pinkel R, Klymak J, Peacock T.  2007.  Internal waves across the Pacific. Geophysical Research Letters. 34   10.1029/2007gl031566   AbstractWebsite

The long-range propagation of the semidiurnal internal tide northward from the Hawaiian ridge and its susceptibility to parametric subharmonic instability (PSI) at the "critical latitude,'' lambda(c) = 28.8 degrees N, were examined in spring 2006 with intensive shipboard and moored observations spanning 25-37 degrees N along a tidal beam. Velocity and shear at lambda(c) were dominated by intense vertically-standing, inertially-rotating bands of several hundred meters vertical wavelength. These occurred in bursts following spring tide, contrasting sharply with the downward-propagating, wind-generated features seen at other latitudes. These marginally-stable layers (which have inverse 16-meter Richardson number Ri(16)(-1) = 0.7) are interpreted as the inertial waves resulting from PSI of the internal tide. Elevated near-inertial energy and parameterized diapycnal diffusivity, and reduced asymmetry in upgoing/downgoing energy, were also observed at and equatorward of lambda(c). Yet, simultaneous moored measurements of semidiurnal energy flux and 1-km-deep velocity sections measured from the ship indicate that the internal tide propagates at least to 37 degrees N, with no detectable energy loss or phase discontinuity at lambda(c). Our observations indicate that PSI occurs in the ocean with sufficient intensity to substantially alter the inertial shear field at and equatorward of lambda(c), but that it does not appreciably disrupt the propagation of the tide at our location.

2003
MacKinnon, JA, Gregg MC.  2003.  Mixing on the late-summer New England shelf - Solibores, shear, and stratification. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 33:1476-1492.   10.1175/1520-0485(2003)033<1476:motlne>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

Observations are presented of microstructure and velocity measurements made on the outer New England shelf in the late summer of 1996 as part of the Coastal Mixing and Optics Experiment. The depth- and time-averaged turbulent dissipation rate was 5-50 (x 10(-9) W kg(-1)). The associated average diapycnal diffusivity in stratified water was 5-20 (x 10(26) m(2) s(-1)), comparable to observed open-ocean thermocline values and too low to explain the strong variability observed in local water properties. Dissipation rates and diffusivity were both highly episodic. Turbulent boundary layers grew down from the surface and up from the bottom. The dissipation rate within the bottom boundary layer had an average of 1.2 x 10(-7) W kg(-1) and varied in magnitude with the strength of near-bottom flow from the barotropic tide, an along-shelf flow, and low-frequency internal waves. The average dissipation rate in the peak thermocline was 5 x 10(-8) W kg(-1); one-half of the thermocline dissipation was due to the strong shear and strain within six solibores that cumulatively lasted less than a day but contained 100-fold elevated dissipation and diffusivity. Nonsolibore, midcolumn dissipation was strongly correlated with shear from low-frequency internal waves. Dissipation was not well parameterized by Gregg-Henyey-type scaling. An alternate scaling, modified to account for observed coastal internal wave properties, was in good agreement with measured dissipation rates. At the end of the observational period Hurricane Edouard passed by, producing strong dissipation rates (4 x 10(-6) W kg(-1)) and consequent mixing during and for several days following the peak winds.

MacKinnon, JA, Gregg MC.  2003.  Shear and baroclinic energy flux on the summer New England shelf. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 33:1462-1475.   10.1175/1520-0485(2003)033<1462:sabefo>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

Observations are presented of internal wave properties and energy fluxes through a site near the 70-m isobath on the New England shelf in late summer. Data collected from a shipboard ADCP and microstructure profiler over a three-week period and projected onto dynamic vertical modes reveals large variations in the magnitude and vertical structure of internal waves. Baroclinic energy and shear were primarily associated with low-mode near-inertial and semidiurnal waves and, at times, high-frequency solibores. The energies in each mode varied by factors from 2 to 10 over several days and were not significantly correlated with one another. The associated shear variance was concentrated in the thermocline. However, the strength and vertical range of shear varied significantly throughout the research period and depended sensitively on both the magnitude and evolving vertical mode content of the wave field. Shear during the quasi-two-layer solibores was strong enough to temporarily lower the 4-m Richardson number below the threshold for shear instability. Energy flux through the site came primarily from the mode-1 internal tide, in both linear and nonlinear (solibore) forms. The average energy flux from the first five baroclinic modes was 130 W m(-1). A comparison of energy fluxes from each mode and locally measured average dissipation rates suggests that near-inertial and high-mode waves were generated near the experimental site.