Limiting states of internal wave rays Academic Article uri icon


  • Existing models of baroclinic tides are based upon the "traditional approximation", i.e., neglect of the horizontal component of the Earth's rotation, leading to a well-known conclusion that no freely propagating internal waves can exist beyond the critical latitude and the wave rays are symmetric to the vertical. However, recent studies have contended that the situation may change if both the vertical and horizontal components of the Earth's rotation are taken into account. With the full account of the Coriolis force, characteristics of the internal wavefield generated by tidal flow over uneven topography are investigated. It is found that "nontraditional effects" profoundly change not only the dynamics of internal waves but also the rate at which the barotropic tidal energy is fed into the internal wavefield. Discarding the traditional approximation, internal waves are proved to be able to generate poleward of the critical latitude, rays of which are no longer symmetric and the limiting values of ray angles become greater or less than 90, depending on the local latitude and the direction of ray. More importantly, in contrast to the predictions of models based upon the traditional approximation, a substantial conversion occurs in the situations when stratification is so weak that the buoyancy frequency is below the tidal one. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Ping, F., & Singh, V. P.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Ping, Fan||Singh, VP

publication date

  • June 2008