Eddy–Internal Wave Interactions and Their Contribution to Cross-Scale Energy Fluxes: A Case Study in the California Current

Audrey Delpech*, Roy Barkan, Kaushik Srinivasan, James C. McWilliams, Brian K. Arbic, Oladeji Q. Siyanbola, Maarten C. Buijsman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-754
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024


FundersFunder number
National Science FoundationOCE1851376
Israel Science FoundationOCE1851397, OCE1851164, 1736/18


    • Dynamics
    • Eddies
    • Internal waves
    • Regional models


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