Topographic Effects on Internal Waves at Barkley Canyon




Anstey, Kurtis

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Submarine canyons incising the continental shelf and slope are hot spots for topography-internal wave interactions, with elevated dissipation and mixing contributing to regional transport and biological productivity. At two Barkley Canyon sites (the continental slope below the shelf-break, and deep within the canyon), four overlapping years of horizontal velocity time-series data are used to examine the effects of irregular topography on the internal wave field. Mean currents are topographically guided at both sites, and in the canyon there is an inter-annually consistent, periodic (about a week) up-canyon flow (-700 to -900 m) above a near-bottom down-canyon layer. There is elevation of internal wave energy near topography, up to a factor of 10, 130 m above the slope, and up to a factor of 100, 230 m above the canyon bottom. All bands display weak inter-annual variability, but significant seasonality. Sub-diurnal and diurnal flows are presumably sub-inertially trapped along topography, and the diurnal band appears to be forced locally (barotropically). Both sites have high near-inertial energy. At the slope site, near-inertial energy is attenuated with depth, while in the canyon it is amplified near the bottom. Both sites show intermittent near-inertial forcing associated with wind events, downward propagation of high-mode internal waves, and the seasonal mixed-layer depth, though fewer events are observed in the canyon. Free semidiurnal internal tides are focused and reflected near critical shelf-break and canyon floor topography, and appear to experience both local and remote (baroclinic) forcing. The high-frequency internal wave continuum has enhanced energy near bottom at both sites (up to 7 times the open-ocean Garrett-Munk spectrum), and inferred dissipation rates increasing from a background of less than 10^-9 W kg^-1 and reaching 10^-7 W kg^-1 near topography. Dissipation is most strongly correlated with the semidiurnal (M2) constituent at both sites, with secondary contributions from the sub-diurnal (Sub_K1) band on the slope, and the near-inertial (NI) band in the canyon. Power laws for these dependencies are dissipation ~ M2^0.83 + Sub_K1^0.59 at the slope, and dissipation ~ M2^1.47 + NI^0.24 in the canyon. There is evidence in spectra of a near-buoyancy frequency build-up of energy correlated with high-frequency continuum variability, with a power law fit of 'shoulder' power ~ dissipation^0.34 that is independent of site topography. Though some general results are expected from observations at other slope and canyon sites, the greater temporal extent of these data provide a uniquely long-term evaluation of such processes.



physical oceanography, ocean physics, internal waves, submarine canyon, continental shelf, mixing, internal tides, ocean networks canada