Dense pulses formed from fissioning internal waves

Samuel G. Hartharn-Evans*, Marek Stastna, Magda Carr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cold pulses generated by the fission of internal solitary waves over gentle slopes are an important source of nutrients and relief from excess heat to benthic ecosystems. This numerical study investigates the effect of stratification form on pulses produced by fission of internal solitary waves propagating over a smooth, gentle, linear topographic slope in 2D simulations. Three stratification types are investigated, namely (i) thin tanh (homogeneous upper and lower layers separated by a thin pycnocline), (ii) surface stratification (linearly stratified layer overlaying a homogeneous lower layer) and (iii) broad tanh (continuous density gradient throughout the water column). Incident wave amplitude was varied. In the thin tanh stratification, good agreement is seen with past studies, whilst the dynamics observed in the surface stratification are very similar to those in the thin tanh stratification. However, in the broad tanh stratification, due to the different form of incident waves, the fission dynamics differ, but produce pulses similar in form to those produced by fission in the other stratifications. Pulse amplitude, wavelength and propagation velocity are found to strongly depend on incident wave amplitude, and each degenerate linearly as the pulse propagates upslope.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389–405
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Fluid Mechanics
Issue number2
Early online date16 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes

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