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The Stokes drift of internal gravity waves

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Henry Burridge.

In contrast to surface gravity waves, planar or purely periodic internal gravity waves do not display Stokes drift, the mechanism whereby a net flux of mass or momentum is induced by wave motion. Internal gravity wave packets or groups, on the other hand, do display Stokes drift. For surface gravity wave packets the Stokes drift at the surface is balanced by a return flow at depth in the opposing direction and thus leads to a localized irrotational mass balance moving with the travelling wave group.

We examine the Stokes drift associated with horizontally and vertically compact Boussinesq internal gravity wave packets in a two-dimensional linearly stratified ambient of infinite horizontal and vertical extent and the potential existence of a return flow to balance this Stokes drift based on the analogy with surface gravity wave groups. For internal gravity wave groups, which are ubiquitous in both ocean and atmosphere, the existence of a wave-induced mean flow influences the way a travelling packet deposits momentum to the environment as well as its breaking behaviour through modulational stability.

This talk is part of the Fluid Mechanics (CUED) series.

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