Publications

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2014
Alford, MH, Klymak JM, Carter GS.  2014.  Breaking internal lee waves at Kaena Ridge, Hawaii. Geophysical Research Letters. 41:906-912.   10.1002/2013GL059070   AbstractWebsite

Shallow water oscillatory flows and deep ocean steady flows have both been observed to give rise to breaking internal lee waves downstream of steep seafloor obstacles. A recent theory also predicts the existence of high-mode oscillatory internal lee waves in deep water, but they have not previously been directly observed. Here we present repeated spatial transects of velocity, isopycnal displacement, and dissipation rate measured with towed instruments on the south flank of a supercritical ridge in Hawaii known as Kaena Ridge and compare them with predictions from a 3-D numerical model with realistic tidal forcing, bathymetry, and stratification. The measured and modeled flow and turbulence agree well in their spatial structure, time dependence, and magnitude, confirming the existence and predicted nature of high-mode internal lee waves. Turbulence estimated from Thorpe scales increases 2 orders of magnitude following downslope tidal flow, when the internal lee wave begins to propagate upslope and breaks.

2004
Eich, ML, Merrifield MA, Alford MH.  2004.  Structure and variability of semidiurnal internal tides in Mamala Bay, Hawaii. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. 109:C05010.   10.1029/2003JC002049   AbstractWebsite

Moored current meter and temperature observations and results from a three-dimensional primitive equation model are used to examine the energetic semidiurnal internal tides present in Mamala Bay on the south coast of Oahu, Hawaii. The steady, harmonic component of the internal tide is characterized by large vertical displacements in the central region of the bay (35 m amplitude for the M2 constituent), and enhanced alongshelf baroclinic currents at the headlands on either end of the bay (0.27 m sāˆ’1). Seasonal changes in amplitude and phase are observed. The model captures the qualitative spatial structure of the observations. Baroclinic energy flux estimates, from the mooring observations and the numerical simulations, suggest that internal tide energy propagates into the bay and does not originate within the bay. The model indicates that internal wave generation occurs over the flanks (500ā€“1000 m depth) of the ridge, predominantly on the east side, with perhaps some additional contribution on the west from an energetic internal tide generated north of Oahu. Wave superposition is believed to account for the alongshelf spatial structure of currents and displacements. Incoherent modulations of the internal tide occur that are not related to local changes in stratification, at least on superannual timescales. Factors contributing to this signal may include stratification variations at the deep generation sites, mesoscale activity, and/or the shoaling of a random internal wave field into the bay from the open ocean.