Skip to Content

Smith Lecture: Observing the Generation, Propagation and Dissipation of Internal Waves in the Ocean

Matthew Alford, University of California San Diego
Friday, March 10, 2017
3:30-4:30 PM
1528 C.C. Little Building Map
Recent work has shown that turbulence in the ocean due to breaking internal gravity is one of the largest uncertainties in climate models. Knowledge of the horizontal and vertical distribution of the turbulence is crucial, which is challenging because internal waves can travel far from their sources and can break via a variety of mechanisms. In this talk I will first introduce internal waves for non-specialists, then walk through an example in the South China Sea where waves can be tracked from their source to their breaking locations, and a rough energy budget determined. Then I’ll discuss recent progress in tracking internal wave energy from generation to cross-basin propagation to dissipation on the globe, focusing on recent efforts to constrain 1) q, the fraction of locally dissipated energy and 2) the reflection coefficient which determines the partition of energy breaking over continental margins versus in the deep basins. A key thread of these analyses is the constant interplay between observations and high-resolution models.
Building: C.C. Little Building
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Lecture
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Earth and Environmental Sciences