A study on some basic features of inertial oscillations and near-inertial internal waves

Chen, Shengli; Chen, Daoyi; Xing, Jiuxing

Some basic features of inertial oscillations and near-inertial internal waves are investigated by simulating a two-dimensional ( x −  z) rectangular basin (300 km  ×  60 m) driven by a wind pulse. For the homogeneous case, near-inertial motions are pure inertial oscillations. The inertial oscillation shows typical opposite currents between the surface and lower layers, which is formed by the feedback between barotropic waves and inertial currents. For the stratified case, near-inertial internal waves are generated at land boundaries and propagate offshore with higher frequencies, which induce tilting of velocity contours in the thermocline. The inertial oscillation is uniform across the whole basin, except near the coastal boundaries ( ∼  20 km), where it quickly declines to zero. This boundary effect is related to great enhancement of non-linear terms, especially the vertical non-linear term ( w ∂  u∕ ∂  z). With the inclusion of near-inertial internal waves, the total near-inertial energy has a slight change, with the occurrence of a small peak at  ∼  50 km, which is similar to previous research. We conclude that, for this distribution of near-inertial energy, the boundary effect for inertial oscillations is primary, and the near-inertial internal wave plays a secondary role. Homogeneous cases with various water depths (50, 40, 30, and 20 m) are also simulated. It is found that near-inertial energy monotonously declines with decreasing water depth, because more energy of the initial wind-driven currents is transferred to seiches by barotropic waves. For the case of 20 m, the seiche energy even slightly exceeds the near-inertial energy. We suppose this is an important reason why near-inertial motions are weak and hardly observed in coastal regions.

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Chen, Shengli / Chen, Daoyi / Xing, Jiuxing: A study on some basic features of inertial oscillations and near-inertial internal waves. 2017. Copernicus Publications.

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