Interaction of a downslope gravity current with an internal wave. (English) Zbl 1419.76133

Summary: We investigate the interaction of a downslope gravity current with an internal wave propagating along a two-layer density jump. Direct numerical simulations confirm earlier experimental findings of a reduced gravity current mass flux, as well as the partial removal of the gravity current head from its body by large-amplitude waves [C. A. R. Hogg et al., “Shoaling internal waves may reduce gravity current transport”, Environ. Fluid Mech. 18, No. 2, 383–394 (2018; doi:10.1007/s10652-017-9554-8)]. The current is observed to split into an intrusion of diluted fluid that propagates along the interface and a hyperpycnal current that continues to move downslope. The simulations provide detailed quantitative information on the energy budget components and the mixing dynamics of the current-wave interaction, which demonstrates the existence of two distinct parameter regimes. Small-amplitude waves affect the current in a largely transient fashion, so that the post-interaction properties of the current approach those in the absence of a wave. Large-amplitude waves, on the other hand, perform a sufficiently large amount of work on the gravity current fluid so as to modify its properties over the long term. The ‘decapitation’ of the current by large waves, along with the associated formation of an upslope current, enhance both viscous dissipation and irreversible mixing, thereby strongly reducing the available potential energy of the flow.


76D05 Navier-Stokes equations for incompressible viscous fluids
76D50 Stratification effects in viscous fluids


Full Text: DOI


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