Strong inertial currents and marginal internal wave stability in the central North Sea
Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
Copyright 1999 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 26, Issue 19, pages 2993–2996, 1 October 1999
How to Cite
- Issue published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 18 AUG 1999
- Manuscript Received: 14 MAY 1999
Solar insolation stabilizes the water column and suppresses vertical exchange. Observations from the central North Sea clearly show that increased heating in summer is accompanied by enhanced de-stabilizing vertical current differences (shear), surprisingly to such extent that the equilibrium state is marginally stable. Under calm weather conditions, the shear is predominantly generated by near-inertial motions while the internal wave spectrum primarily results from nonlinear interaction between the dominating tidal and near-inertial motions. In terms of the associated enhanced vertical mixing across the largest vertical temperature gradients, shelf seas are not different from the abyssal ocean, despite the proximity to energy sources near boundaries in the former. By the lack of sufficiently strong wind- and tidal-mixing this internal mixing is considered to be responsible for the diapycnal transport of nutrients leading to the observed increase in near-surface values and triggering the late-summer phytoplankton bloom.