A coupled-mode shallow-water model for tidal analysis: Internal tide reflection and refraction by the gulf stream

Samuel M. Kelly, Pierre F.J. Lermusiaux, Timothy F. Duda, Patrick J. Haley

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43 Scopus citations


A hydrostatic, coupled-mode, shallow-water model (CSW) is described and used to diagnose and simulate tidal dynamics in the greater Mid-Atlantic Bight region. The reduced-physics model incorporates realistic stratification and topography, internal tide forcing from a priori estimates of the surface tide, and advection terms that describe first-order interactions of internal tides with slowly varying mean flow and mean buoyancy fields and their respective shear. The model is validated via comparisons with semianalytic models and nonlinear primitive equation models in several idealized and realistic simulations that include internal tide interactions with topography and mean flows. Then, 24 simulations of internal tide generation and propagation in the greater Mid-Atlantic Bight region are used to diagnose significant internal tide interactions with the Gulf Stream. The simulations indicate that locally generated mode-one internal tides refract and/or reflect at the Gulf Stream. The redirected internal tides often reappear at the shelf break, where their onshore energy fluxes are intermittent (i.e., noncoherent with surface tide) because meanders in the Gulf Stream alter their precise location, phase, and amplitude. These results provide an explanation for anomalous onshore energy fluxes that were previously observed at the New Jersey shelf break and linked to the irregular generation of nonlinear internal waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3661-3679
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank G. Gawarkiewicz and P. Abbot for their AWACS-SW06 ocean data and M. Taylor and J. Hare for their NMFS survey data. We thank Dr. K. Brink and two anonymous reviewers for their many constructive suggestions. We thank the National Science Foundation for support under Grant OCE-1061160 (ShelfIT) to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and under Grant OCE-1060430 to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. PFJL and PJH also thank the Office of Naval Research for research support under Grants N00014-11-1-0701 (MURIIODA), N00014-12-1-0944 (ONR6.2), and N00014-13-1-0518 (Multi-DA) to MIT.


  • Baroclinic models
  • Boundary currents
  • Continental shelf/slope
  • Inertia-gravity waves
  • Internal waves
  • Tides


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