Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Internal solitary wave breaking and run-up on a uniform slope

Karl R.  Helfrich a1
a1 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole. MA 02543. USA

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Laboratory experiments have been conducted to study the shoaling of internal solitary waves of depression in a two-layer system on a uniform slope. The shoaling of a single solitary wave results in wave breaking and the production of multiple turbulent surges, or boluses, which propagate up the slope. Significant vertical mixing occurs everywhere inshore of the breaking location. The kinematics of the breaking and bolus runup are described and a breaking criterion is found. The energetics of the breaking are investigated. Over the range of parameters examined, 15 (±5) % of the energy lost from first-mode wave motion inshore of the break point goes into vertical mixing.

(Published Online April 26 2006)
(Received August 23 1991)
(Revised February 18 1992)