Interactions Between Internal Solitary Waves and Sea Ice

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

*Corresponding author for this work

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Internal Solitary Waves (ISWs) that form on internal density interfaces in the ocean are responsible for the horizontal transport and vertical mixing of heat, nutrients, and other water properties. The waves also induce fluid motion that can induce stresses and motion on floating structures, such as sea ice. This study investigates ISW‐sea ice interactions. Using laboratory experiments, ISWs generated via the lock gate technique are observed interacting with weighted floats of varying sizes. The motion of these floats can be modeled effectively, simply as the average velocity of the fluid under the float, and it is found that when floats are small relative to the wavelength, they behave in the same manner as a fluid particle, but as floats become bigger relative to the wavelength, the maximum velocity decreases, and interaction time increases. This phenomenon is explained simply by the wave‐induced flow as opposed to energy transfer arguments. By using this model with a large sample of theoretical waves, the float motion is parameterized based on the float length and wave parameters. Whilst small floats do not disrupt the flow patterns, the wave‐induced flow under larger floats forms a pair of counter‐rotating vortices at each end of the float. The formation and evolution of these flow features arise as a result of boundary layer separation with the horizontal wave‐induced flow relative to the float velocity. This reveals complex dynamics due to the non‐stationary behavior of both the float and flow.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023JC020175
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

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