Eddy-Internal Wave Interactions and Their Contribution To Cross-Scale Energy Fluxes: A Case Study In the California Current

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Publication Date



Marine Science


Ocean Science and Engineering


Oceanic mixing, mostly driven by the breaking of internal waves at small scales in the ocean interior, is of major importance for ocean circulation and the ocean response to future climate scenarios. Understanding how internal waves transfer their energy to smaller scales from their generation to their dissipation is therefore an important step for improving the representation of ocean mixing in climate models. In this study, the processes leading to cross-scale energy fluxes in the internal wave field are quantified using an original decomposition approach in a realistic numerical simulation of the California Current. We quantify the relative contribution of eddy-internal wave interactions and wave-wave interactions to these fluxes and show that eddy-internal wave interactions are more efficient than wave-wave interactions in the formation of the internal wave continuum spectrum. Carrying out twin numerical simulations, where we successively activate or deactivate one of the main internal wave forcing, we also show that eddy - near-inertial internal wave interactions are more efficient in the cross-scale energy transfer than eddy - tidal internal wave interactions. This results in the dissipation being dominated by the near-inertial internal waves over tidal internal waves. A companion study focuses on the role of stimulated cascade on the energy and enstrophy fluxes.

Publication Title

Journal of Physical Oceanography

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