Boundary mixing by density overturns in an internal tidal beam



[1] A numerical study based on large eddy simulation (LES) is performed to investigate near-bottom mixing processes in an internal wave beam over a critical slope. Transition to turbulence from an initial laminar state is followed by mixing events that occur at specific phases. Maximum turbulent kinetic energy and dissipation rate are found just after the zero velocity point when flow reverses from downslope to upslope motion. At this phase, convective instability leads to density overturns that originate in the upper flank of the beam and span the beam width of 60 m. Turbulence originating at the bottom and with smaller vertical extent is also present during the phases of peak upslope and downslope flow when the boundary layer shear is large. The present numerical simulations identify and characterize a process, internal wave beam at a critical slope during generation or after propagation from a nearby generation site, that may lead to the high turbulence levels, modulated at the tidal frequency, that is observed near the bottom in oceanic sites with near-critical topography.