Internal tides measured with multisatellite altimetry



Ocean tides flowing over rough topography generate internal tides, which may transport the tidal energy more than 2000 kilometers away from the generation sites. Eventual breaking of these waves produces turbulence and influences the mixing of heat and chemicals, ocean circulation, and global climate. However, mapping internal tides from their generation to dissipation over such great distances poses a significant challenge. Satellite altimeters, with nearly global coverage, can capture the approximately 2-centimeter sea surface height deflection caused by an internal tide (corresponding to tens of meters of subsurface displacements).