Internal bores and breaking 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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28 Scopus citations


Observations of breaking internal tides on the Oregon continental slope during a 40-day deployment of 5 moorings along 43°12'N are presented. Remotely generated internal tides shoal onto the slope, steepen, break, and form turbulent bores that propagate upslope independently of the internal tide. A high-resolution snapshot of a single bore is captured from lowered acoustic Doppler current profilers (LADCP)/CTD profiles in a 25-h time series at 1200 m. The bore is cold, salty, over 100 m tall, and has a turbulent head where instantaneous dissipation rates are enhanced (∈ > 10-6 Wkg-1) and sediment is resuspended. At the two deepest slope moorings (1452 and 1780 m), similar borelike phenomena are observed in near-bottom high-resolution temperature time series. Mean dissipation rates and diapycnal diffusivities increase by a factor of 2 when bores are present (∈-bores > 10-8 Wkg-1 and Kp-brores > 10-3 ms-1) and observed internal tides are energetic enough to drive these enhanced dissipation rates. Globally, the authors estimate an average of 1.3 kW m-1 of internal tide energy flux is directed onto continental slopes. On the Oregon slope, internal tide fluxes are smaller, suggesting that it is a relatively weak internal tide sink. Mixing associated with the breaking of internal tides is therefore likely to be larger on other continental slopes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-139
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

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