Physical Oceanography

Internal waves and mixing

Breaking of waves in the interior ocean accounts for a major part of vertical mixing.

Main content

Ocean is vertically layered, so-called stratified. Disturbances to density surfaces in the stable, stratified water column result in wave motions not unlike surface waves, but in much larger amplitude. Internal waves are ubiquitous in oceans and can propagate long distances, with a vertical component, hence can carry momentum to the ocean interior and to distant locations. When the internal waves break, a fraction of their momentum is lost to turbulence and vertical mixing. This is a major source of turbulent kinetic energy in the ocean interior.

We conduct research on generation mechanisms and dissipation of internal waves to assess their role in ocean circulation and water mass transformations. Arctic ocean is a region of particular interest.


Contact at GFI: Ilker Fer

OVERFLOW - Faroe Bank Channel Overflow: Dynamics and Mixing
WEDDELL - Antarctic Ice Shelves and Ocean Climate: Production, Export, Dynamics and Variability of Bottom Water in the Southern Weddell Sea
ARCOM - Arctic Ocean Mixing
ARCFJORD - Internal hydraulic processes in an Arctic fjord