Modeling Internal Waves in the South China Sea

Sean Vitousek, Stanford University

The largest internal waves in the world's oceans are found in the South China Sea. These waves appear in rank-ordered trains of nonlinear solitary-like waves with amplitudes in excess of 100 m and wavelengths of 500 m to 5 km. Because these waves are short relative to size of the South China Sea, numerical models require very high resolutions. The largest-scale 3-D simulations of the South China Sea to date have been under-resolved and thus limited in terms of their predictive skill. However, much success in modeling the evolution and characteristics (shape, speed, etc.) of these internal waves has been obtained using 1-D models based on weakly nonlinear, weakly nonhydrostatic KdV theory.

Based on the challenges faced with 3-D predictive modeling and the successes of 1-D theoretical/analytical models, we propose and outline the development of a hybrid nonhydrostatic model which represents a compromise between the two existing approaches.

Abstract Author(s): Sean Vitousek, Oliver B. Fringer