AbstractIn the tropical North Atlantic, mean winds introduce relatively little energy into the internal wave field, but hurricanes act as very energetic sources for near-inertial waves. In addition to the eventlike passage of such tropical cyclones, changes in the wind speed north of the trade wind system induce a seasonal cycle in surface swell, with potential implications for the high-frequency part of the internal wave field. Using a 5-yr mooring time series in the interior of the tropical North Atlantic at 16°N, the temporal variability of internal wave energy south of the main hurricane track in different frequency bands is studied, and the magnitude of its variability, along with possible energy transfer mechanisms, is analyzed. The results show that changes in near-inertial energy are dominated by the passage of internal waves generated by hurricanes centered several hundred kilometers north of the mooring. The major role of hurricanes in the generation of near-inertial waves is also seen in an extended slab model that takes the horizontal divergence of the near-inertial current field at the mixed layer base into account. A seasonal cycle is observed in the energy at the high-frequency end (frequencies above 6 cpd) of the internal wave spectrum. It is not in phase with the near-inertial energy variability but covaries with changes in the local surface waves. These high-frequency internal waves are most energetic at times when large-amplitude surface swell with long periods and correspondingly long wavelengths is observed.
Journal of Physical Oceanography – American Meteorological Society
Published: Feb 8, 2018
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