Experimental observation of strong mixing due to internal wave focusing over sloping terrain

Arno Swart, Astrid Manders, Uwe Harlander, Leo R. M. Maas

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This paper reports on experimental observation of internal waves that are focused due to a sloping topography. A remarkable mixing of the density field was observed. This result is of importance for the deep ocean, where internal waves are believed to play a role in mixing. The experiments were performed on the rotating platform at the Coriolis Laboratory, Grenoble. The rotation, its modulation and density stratification were set to be in the internal wave regime. After applying various data processing techniques we observe internal wave rays, which converge to a limiting state: the wave attractor. At longer time scales we observe a remarkably efficient mixing of the density field, possibly responsible for driving observed sheared mean flows and topographic Rossby waves. We offer the hypothesis that focusing of internal waves to the wave attractor leads to the mixing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-34
JournalDynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Mixing
  • Internal waves
  • Wave attractors
  • Rotating stratified fluids
  • Boundary layers
  • Boundary layer eruptions


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