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Axisymmetric internal solitary waves launched by river plumes Open Access


Other title
river plumes
solitary waves
internal waves
intrusive gravity currents
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
McMillan, Justine M.
Supervisor and department
Sutherland, Bruce (Physics, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Flynn, Morris (Mechanical Engineering)
Swaters, Gordon (Mathematical and Statistical Sciences)
Unsworth, Martyn (Physics, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Department of Physics

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
The generation and evolution of internal solitary waves by intrusive gravity currents and river plumes are examined in an axisymmetric geometry by way of theory, experiments and numerical simulations. Full depth lock-release experiments and simulations demonstrate that vertically symmetric intrusions propagating into a two-layer fluid with an interface of finite thickness can launch a mode-2 double humped solitary wave. The wave then surrounds the intrusion head and carries it outwards at a constant speed. The properties of the wave's speed and shape are shown to agree well with a Korteweg-de Vries theory that is derived heuristically on the basis of energy conservation. The numerical code is also adapted to oceanographic scales in an attempt to simulate the interaction between the ocean and a river plume emanating from the mouth of the Columbia River. Despite several approximations, the fundamental dynamics of the wave generation process are captured by the model.
License granted by Justine McMillan ( on 2010-12-15T19:33:13Z (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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