Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2006

Abstract

This paper investigates the internal tidal energy distribution in the southwestern Japan/East Sea using vertical round-trip travel time (τ) data from 23 pressure-sensor-equipped inverted echo sounders (PIES). The τ records are analyzed by bandpass filtering to separate time-dependent variability of the semidiurnal and diurnal bands. The semidiurnal internal tides exhibit a horizontal beam pattern of high energy, propagating into the open basin. They originate from a restricted portion of the shelf break where the Korea Strait enters the Ulleung Basin. The generation appears to occur at ∼200-m water depth near 35.5°–35.7°N and 130°–131°E, where the slope of bottom topography matches that of the wave characteristics, coinciding with the location where the semidiurnal barotropic cross-slope tidal currents are strongest. Maximum vertical displacement of the thermocline interpreted as a long-wave first baroclinic mode from the measured τ is about 25 m near the generation region. Annual and monthly variations of the propagation patterns and generation energy levels are observed, and these are closely associated with changes in the mesoscale circulation and stratification. Eastward (westward) refraction is observed when a warm (cold) eddy crosses the path of internal tide propagation. Moreover, when the generation region is invaded by cold eddies that spoil the match between shelf break and thermocline depth, the internal tidal energy level decreases by a factor of about 2. A simple geometric optics model is proposed to explain the observed horizontal refraction of the beam of semidiurnal internal tides in which stratification and current shear play essential roles. In contrast, diurnal internal tides are observed to be trapped along the continental slope region around 36°N.

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