Internal solitary wave-induced flow over a corrugated bed

Magda Carr, Marek Stastna, Peter A. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


A combined numerical and experimental study of the propagation of an internal solitary wave (ISW) over a corrugated bed is presented, in which the amplitude and the wavelength of the corrugated bed, together with the wave amplitude and wave speed of the ISW, have been varied parametrically. Both ISWs of elevation and depression have been considered. The wave-induced currents over the corrugated bed cause flow separation at the apex of the corrugations and a sequence of lee vortices forms as a result. These vortices develop fully after the main wave has passed over the topographic feature, resulting in deformation of the overlying pycnocline and, in some instances, significant vertical mixing. It is found that the intensity of the vortex formation is dependent on both the amplitude and wavelength of the bottom topography. In the case of an ISW of depression, the generation of vertically (upward)-propagating vortices is seen to result in entrainment of fluid from a bottom boundary jet (Carr and Davies, Phys Fluids 18:016601, 2006), while, in the elevation case, a second mechanism is present to induce significant turbulent mixing in the water column. It occurs when the bottom corrugations reach into, or are very near, the pycnocline at rest. Large waves of elevation that are stable on approach to the corrugations exhibit evidence of a spatio-temporally developing shear instability as they interact with the bottom corrugation. The shear instability takes the form of billows that have a vertical extent that can reach 50% of the wave amplitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1025
Number of pages19
JournalOcean Dynamics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • Internal solitary wave
  • Bottom boundary layer


Dive into the research topics of 'Internal solitary wave-induced flow over a corrugated bed'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this