Tidally Forced Turbulent Dissipation On a Three-Dimensional Fan In Luzon Strait

Document Type


Publication Date



Ocean Science and Engineering


Moored observations and a realistic, tidally forced 3D model are presented of flow and internal-tide-driven turbulence over a supercritical 3D fan in southeastern Luzon Strait. Two stacked moored profilers, an acoustic Doppler current profiler, and a thermistor string measured horizontal velocity, density, and salinity over nearly the entire water column every 1.5 h for 50 days. Observed dissipation rate computed from Thorpe scales decays away from the bottom and shows a strong spring–neap cycle; observed depth-integrated dissipation rate scales as U2.5±0.6BT where UBT is the barotropic velocity. Vertical velocities are strong enough to be comparable at times to the vertical profiling speed of the moored profilers, requiring careful treatment to quantify bias in dissipation rate estimates. Observations and the model are in reasonable agreement for velocity, internal wave displacement and depth-integrated dissipation rate, allowing the model to be used to understand the 3D flow. Turbulence is maximum following the transition from up-fan to down-fan flow, consistent with breaking lee waves advected past the mooring as seen previously at the Hawaiian Ridge, but asymmetric flow arises because of the 3D topography. Observed turbulence varies by a factor of 2 over the four observed spring tides as low-frequency near-bottom flow changes, but the exact means for inclusion of such low-frequency effects is not clear. Our results suggest that for the extremely energetic turbulence associated with breaking lee waves, dissipation rates may be quantitatively predicted to within a factor of 2 or so using numerical models and simple scalings.

Publication Title

Journal of Physical Oceanography





First Page


Last Page


Find in your library