Stimulated imbalance and the enhancement of eddy kinetic energy dissipation by internal waves

Roy Barkan*, Kraig B. Winters, James C. Mcwilliams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The effects of internal waves (IWs), externally forced by high-frequency wind, on energy pathways are studied in submesoscale-resolving numerical simulations of an idealized wind-driven channel flow. Two processes are examined: the direct extraction of mesoscale energy by externally forced IWs followed by an IW forward energy cascade to dissipation and stimulated imbalance, a mechanism through which externally forced IWs trigger a forward mesoscale to submesoscale energy cascade to dissipation. This study finds that the frequency and wavenumber spectral slopes are shallower in solutions with high-frequency forcing compared to solutions without and that the volume-averaged interior kinetic energy dissipation rate increases tenfold. The ratio between the enhanced dissipation rate and the added high-frequency wind work is 1.3, demonstrating the significance of the IW-mediated forward cascades. Temporal-scale analysis of energy exchanges among low- (mesoscale), intermediate- (submesoscale), and high-frequency (IW) bands shows a corresponding increase in kinetic energy Ek and available potential energy APE transfers from mesoscales to submesoscales (stimulated imbalance) and mesoscales to IWs (direct extraction). Two direct extraction routes are identified: a mesoscale to IW Ek transfer and a mesoscale to IW APE transfer followed by an IW APE to IW Ek conversion. Spatial-scale analysis of eddy-IW interaction in solutions with high-frequency forcing shows an equivalent increase in forward Ek and APE transfers inside both anticyclones and cyclones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-198
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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