Coastally generated near-inertial waves

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Wind directly forces inertial oscillations in the mixed layer. Where these currents hit the coast, the no-normal-flow boundary condition leads to vertical velocities that pump both the base of the mixed layer and the free surface, producing offshore-propagating near-inertial internal and surface waves, respectively. The internal waves directly transport wind work downward into the ocean’s stratified interior, where it may provide mechanical mixing. The surface waves propagate offshore where they can scatter over rough topography in a process analogous to internal-tide generation. Here, we estimate mixed layer currents from observed winds using a damped slab model. Then, we estimate the pressure, velocity, and energy flux associated with coastally generated near-inertial waves at a vertical coastline. These results are extended to coasts with arbitrary across-shore topography and examined using numerical simulations. At the New Jersey shelfbreak, comparisons between the slab model, numerical simulations, and moored observations are ambiguous. Extrapolation of the theoretical results suggests that O(10%) of global wind work (i.e., 0.03 of 0.31 TW) is transferred to coastally generated barotropic near-inertial waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2979-2995
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


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