Near-inertial scattering by random flows

Eric Danioux, Jacques Vanneste

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The impact of a turbulent flow on wind-driven oceanic near-inertial waves is examined using a linearised shallow-water model of the mixed layer. Modelling the flow as a homogeneous and stationary random process with spatial scales comparable to the wavelengths, we derive a transport (or kinetic) equation governing wave-energy transfers in both physical and spectral spaces. This equation describes the scattering of the waves by the flow which results in a redistribution of energy between waves with the same frequency (or, equivalently, with the same wavenumber) and, for isotropic flows, in the isotropisation of the wave field. The time scales for the scattering and isotropisation are obtained explicitly and found to be of the order of tens of days for typical oceanic parameters. The predictions inferred from the transport equation are confirmed by a series of numerical simulations.
Two situations in which near-inertial waves are strongly influenced by flow scattering are investigated through dedicated nonlinear shallow-water simulations. In the first, a wavepacket propagating equatorwards as a result from the β-effect is shown to be slowed down and dispersed both zonally and meridionally by scattering. In the second, waves generated by moving cyclones are shown to be strongly disturbed by scattering, leading again to an increased dispersion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number033701
Number of pages37
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2016


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