Observations of Lee Waves Generated by Topographic Form Drag on Tides and Low-Frequency Flow over a Tall Submarine Ridge near Palau

Gunnar Voet1, Matthew H Alford1, Jennifer A MacKinnon1 and Jonathan D Nash2, (1)Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States, (2)Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States
Towed shipboard and moored observations show internal gravity waves over a tall, supercritical submarine ridge in the tropical Western Pacific north of Palau. The waves were generated by a superposition of tidal and low-frequency flows and thus had two distinct energy sources. Local breaking of the waves led to enhanced rates of dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy in the lee of the ridge near topography. Turbulence observations showed a stark contrast between conditions at spring and neap tide. During spring tide, when the tidal flow dominated, turbulence was approximately equally distributed around both sides of the ridge. During neap tide, when the mean flow dominated over tidal oscillations, turbulence was mostly observed on the downstream side of the ridge relative to the mean flow. The drag exerted by the ridge on the flow, and the associated power loss, thus provide an energy sink both for the low-frequency ocean circulation and the tidal flow.