Modulation of Small-Scale Superinertial Internal Waves by Near-Inertial Internal Waves Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractDynamics of small-scale (<10 km) superinertial internal waves (SSIWs) of intense vertical motion are investigated theoretically and numerically. It is shown that near-inertial internal waves (NIWs) have a pronounced influence on modulation of SSIW strength. In convergence zones of NIWs, energy flux of SSIWs converge and energy is transferred from NIWs to SSIWs, leading to rapid growth of SSIWs. The opposite occurs when SSIWs enter divergence zones of NIWs. The underlying dynamics can be understood in terms of wave action conservation of SSIWs in the presence of background NIWs. The validity of the theoretical finding is verified using realistic high-resolution numerical simulations in the Gulf of Mexico. The results reveal significantly stronger small-scale superinertial vertical motions in convergence zones of NIWs than in divergence zones. By removing near-inertial wind forcing, model simulations with identical resolution show a substantial decrease in the small-scale superinertial vertical motions associated with the suppression of NIWs. Therefore, these numerical simulations support the theoretical finding of SSIW–NIW interaction.

author list (cited authors)

  • Jing, Z., & Chang, P.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016 11:11 AM