Seasonal Variability and Generation Mechanisms of Nonlinear Internal Waves in the Strait of Georgia
Title: Seasonal Variability and Generation Mechanisms of Nonlinear Internal Waves in the Strait of Georgia
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123: 5706-5726, https://doi.org/10.1029/2017JC013563
Authors: LI L., C. -X. Wang*, and R. Pawlowic
Abstract: Seasonal variability and generation mechanisms of large nonlinear internal waves are reported, based on an analysis of 9 years of continuous observational data collected at nodes of the Ocean Networks Canada coastal observatory in the Strait of Georgia, Canada. About one thousand large nonlinear internal wave packets were identified. The timing of these packets suggests a very strong correlation with daily tides and fortnightly cycles. More waves are seen during the stronger tides of the fortnightly cycle but overall waves are seen in less than 40% of all days. Other wave characteristics show seasonal variations. In winter, when the pycnocline is weaker, both the spatial and temporal scales of internal waves are several times larger than summertime waves and wave amplitudes can approach 30 m. These waves are large enough vertically but small enough horizontally that standard acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) processing algorithms present a strongly distorted view of wave shape and features. A specialized reprocessing of the beam velocities is used to correctly measure the wave velocity field and to determine wave propagation speed and direction. In addition to the previously known northward-propagating waves in the Strait, we also found waves propagating in other directions and a noticeable correlation with winds, which may be a proxy for spatial variations in density and/or velocity shear. By considering wave propagation direction, relationship with tidal phase, and relationship with wind, three generation mechanisms were found. Two particularly interesting generation mechanisms involve waves radiating from the Sand Heads area.