Observations of internal tides on the oregon continental slope

Kim I. Martini, Matthew H. Alford, Eric Kunze, Samuel M. Kelly, Jonathan D. Nash

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60 Scopus citations


A complex superposition of locally forced and shoaling remotely generated semidiurnal internal tides occurs on the Oregon continental slope. Presented here are observations from a zonal line of five profiling moorings deployed across the continental slope from 500 to 3000 m, a 24-h expendable current profiler (XCP) survey, and five 15-48-h lowered ADCP (LADCP)/CTD stations. The 40-day moored deployment spans three spring and two neap tides, during which the proportions of the locally and remotely forced internal tides vary. Baroclinic signals are strong throughout spring and neap tides, with 4-5-day-long bursts of strong crossslope baroclinic semidiurnal velocity (uM2 >0:05 m s-1) and vertical displacement (ζM2 >100 m). Energy fluxes exhibit complex spatial and temporal patterns throughout both tidal periods. During spring tides, local barotropic forcing is strongest and energy flux over the slope is predominantly offshore (westward). During neap tides, shoaling remotely generated internal tides dominate and energy flux is predominantly onshore (eastward). Shoaling internal tides do not exhibit a strong spring-neap cycle and are also observed during the first spring tide, indicating that they originate from multiple sources. The bulk of the remotely generated internal tide is hypothesized to be generated from south of the array (e.g., Mendocino Escarpment), because energy fluxes at the deep mooring 100 km offshore are always directed northward. However, fluxes on the slope suggest that the northbound internal tide is turned onshore, most likely by reflection from large-scale bathymetry. This is verified with a simple three-dimensional model of mode-1 internal tides propagating obliquely onto a near-critical slope, whose output conforms fairly well to observations, in spite of its simplicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1772-1794
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Continental shelf/slope
  • Tides


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