Wind-current feedback is an energy sink for oceanic internal waves

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Internal waves contain a large amount of energy in the ocean and are an important source of turbulent mixing. Ocean mixing is relevant for climate because it drives vertical transport of water, heat, carbon and other tracers. Understanding the life cycle of internal waves, from generation to dissipation, is therefore important for improving the representation of ocean mixing in climate models. Here, we provide evidence from a regional realistic numerical simulation in the northeastern Pacific that the wind can play an important role in damping internal waves through current feedback. This results in a reduction of 67% of wind power input at near-inertial frequencies in the region of study. Wind-current feedback also provides a net energy sink for internal tides, removing energy at a rate of 0.2 mW/m2 on average, corresponding to 8% of the local internal tide generation at the Mendocino ridge. The temporal variability and modal distribution of this energy sink are also investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5915
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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