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When internal waves interact with topography, such as continental slopes, they can transfer wave energy to local dissipation and diapycnal mixing. Submarine canyons comprise approximately ten percent of global continental slopes, and can enhance the local dissipation of internal wave energy, yet parameterizations of canyon mixing processes are currently missing from large-scale ocean models. As a first step in the development of such parameterizations, we conduct a parameter space study of M2 tidal-frequency, low-mode internal waves interacting with idealized V-shaped canyon topographies. Specifically, we examine the effect of varying the canyon mouth width, shape and slope of the thalweg (line of lowest elevation) (i.e. flat bottom or near-critical slope). In Part 1 of this study (Nazarian and Legg, 2017a), we developed a ray tracing algorithm and used it to estimate how canyons can increase the wave Froude number, by increasing energy density and increasing vertical wavenumber. Here in Part 2 we examine the internal wave scattering in continental slope canyons using numerical simulations, and compare the results with the linear ray tracing predictions. We find that at intermediate canyon widths, a large fraction of incoming wave energy can be dissipated, which can be explained as a consequence of the increase in ray density and, for near-critical slope canyons, increase in vertical wave number, which leads to lower Richardson number followed by instability. Relative to a steep continental slope without a canyon, we find that V-shaped flat bottom canyons always dissipate more energy and are an effective geometry for wave trapping and subsequent energy loss. When both flat bottom canyons and near-critical slope canyons are made narrower, less wave energy enters the canyon, but a larger fraction of that energy is lost to dissipation due to subsequent reflections and wave trapping. There is agreement between the diagnostics calculated from the numerical model and the linear ray tracing, lending support for the use of linear theory to understand the fundamental dynamics of internal wave scattering in canyons.


Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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Publication Title

Ocean Modelling

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Nazarian, R. H., & Legg, S. (2017). Internal wave scattering in continental slope canyons, Part 2: A comparison of ray tracing and numerical simulations. Ocean Modelling, 118, 16-30.



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