Published In

Journal of Physical Oceanography

Document Type


Publication Date



Internal waves, Tides -- Remote sensing


Interaction of barotropic tides with subsurface topography is vital to ocean mixing. Yet the behavior of large-amplitude, nonlinear, internal solitary waves (ISWs) that can cause strong mixing remains poorly understood, especially that of higher-mode and multimodal internal waves. Therefore, a 2.5-dimensional, nonhydrostatic model with adjustable vertical resolution was developed to investigate effects of upper-ocean stratification on tidally induced multimodal internal waves and to show how they are generated by the subcritical ridge where only upward-propagating internal wave beams (IWBs) are present. The effects of the stratification on properties and characteristics of the excited IWBs and on the energy partition of the radiated mode-1 and mode-2 internal waves were investigated based on the model results. Higher modes of internal waves can also be effectively generated in the IWBs by the subcritical topography, and the contribution to IWBs from higher modes increases with the upper-ocean stratification. Mode-2 ISWs can be excited from the IWBs if both the tidal Froude number and the contribution to IWBs from mode-2 waves are sufficiently high ( U0 is the tidal current speed, and c2 is the phase speed of mode-2 waves). In a moderately stratified upper ocean, both mode-1 and mode-2 ISWs can be produced, but for weak (strong) stratification, only mode-1 (mode-2) ISWs are generated. Further, it is found that the distance between two successive mode-1 or mode-2 ISW trains increases linearly with the upper-ocean stratification. The ratio of the kinetic energy to the available potential energy for the mode-2 ISWs increases with the upper-ocean stratification in a strongly stratified ocean.


© Copyright 2015 American Meteorological Society. Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act September 2010 Page 2 or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108, as revised by P.L. 94-553) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a web site or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy, available on the AMS Web site located at ( or from the AMS at 617-227-2425 or

The article is available online at:



Persistent Identifier