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Internal wave generation by intrusions, topography, and turbulence Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Munroe, James Ross
Supervisor and department
Sutherland, Bruce (Physics and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Heimpel, Moritz (Physics)
Kravchinsky, Vadim (Physics)
Wilson, John (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences)
Myers, Paul (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences)
Peacock, Thomas (Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Department of Physics

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Internal gravity waves transport energy and momentum in both the atmosphere and the ocean. This physical process occurs at such small length scales that it is not captured by coarse resolution numerical models of weather and climate. A series of experiments is presented that model the generation of non-hydrostatic internal gravity waves by intrusions and by the forcing of wind driven turbulent eddies in the surface mixed layer of the ocean. In a first set of experiments, gravity currents intrude into a uniformly stratified ambient fluid and the internal waves that are launched are examined with a finite-volume, full-depth, lock-release setup. In a second set of experiments, isolated rough topography is towed through stratified fluid and the interaction between the turbulent wake and internal waves is investigated. In a third set of experiments, a turbulent shear layer is forced by a conveyor belt affixed with flat plates near the surface of a stratified fluid and downward propagating internal waves are generated. The turbulence in the shear layer is characterized using particle image velocimetry to measure the kinetic energy as well as length and time scales. The internal waves are measured using synthetic schlieren to determine the amplitudes, frequencies, and the energy of the generated waves. Finally, numerical simulations are used to validate and extend the results of laboratory experiments. The thesis will address the question of what fraction of the turbulent kinetic energy of a shear turbulent mixed layer is radiated away by internal waves. Implications for internal waves propagating into the ocean are discussed.
License granted by James Munroe ( on 2009-10-01T20:46:04Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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