Verification Studies for a Z-Coordinate Primitive-Equation Model: Tidal Conversion at a Mid-Ocean Ridge

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2006


We document the accuracy and convergence of solutions for a z-coordinate primitive-equation model of internal tide generation and propagation. The model, which is based on MOM3 numerics, is linearized around a state of rest to facilitate comparison with analytic estimates of baroclinic generation at finite-amplitude topography in a channel forced by barotropic tidal flow at its boundaries. Unlike the analytical model, the numerical model includes mixing of both buoyancy and momentum, and several definitions of “baroclinic conversion” are possible. These are clarified by writing out the energetics of the linearized equations in terms of barotropic kinetic energy, baroclinic kinetic energy, and available potential energy. The tidal conversion computed from the model, defined as the rate of conversion of barotropic kinetic energy into available potential energy, agrees well with analytical predictions. A comparison of different treatments of bottom topography (full-cells, partial-cells, and ghost-cells) indicates that the partial-cell treatment is the most accurate in this application. Convergence studies of flow over a smooth supercritical ridge show that the dissipation along tidal characteristics is, apparently, an integrable singularity. When the ocean bottom is not smooth, the accuracy and convergence of the model depend on the power spectrum of the topography. A numerical experiment suggests that the power spectrum of the resolved topography must roll off faster than k−2 to obtain convergent results from a linear numerical model of this type.