Comptes Rendus
Boussinesq approximation, geophysical flows
Internal gravity waves: parametric instability and deep ocean mixing
Comptes Rendus. Mécanique, Volume 335 (2007) no. 9-10, pp. 665-678.

The Boussinesq approximation provides a convenient framework to describe the dynamics of stably-stratified fluids. A fundamental motion in these fluids consists of internal gravity waves, whatever the strength of the stratification. These waves may be unstable through parametric instability, which results in turbulence and mixing. After a brief review of the main properties of internal gravity waves, we show how the parametric instability of a monochromatic internal gravity wave organizes itself in space and time, using energetics arguments and a simple kinematic model. We provide an example, in the deep ocean, where such instability is likely to occur, as estimates of mixing from in situ measurements suggest. We eventually discuss the fundamental role of internal gravity wave mixing in the maintenance of the abyssal thermal stratification.

L'approximation de Boussinesq constitue un cadre bien adapté à l'étude des fluides stablement stratifiés. Des ondes de gravité internes s'y développent, quel que soit le niveau de stratification, qui peuvent être instables par instabilité paramétrique. Turbulence et mélange en résultent. Après un bref rappel sur les propriétés des ondes de gravité internes, nous montrons comment s'organisent les transferts d'énergie, dans l'espace et dans le temps, lorsqu'une onde interne est paramétriquement instable. Un modèle cinématique simple est employé pour cela. Puis nous illustrons ce processus et ses conséquences par un exemple océanique : l'instabilité paramétique se produit très certainement dans l'océan profond, comme le suggèrent les mesures in situ. Nous discutons finalement du rôle fondamental des ondes de gravité internes dans l'entretien de la stratification abyssale, par le mélange qu'elles induisent.

Published online:
DOI: 10.1016/j.crme.2007.08.009
Keywords: Fluid mechanics, Stably-stratified fluid, Internal gravity waves, Ocean mixing
Mot clés : Mécanique des fluides, Fluide stratifié, Ondes de gravité internes, Mélange océanique
Chantal Staquet 1

1 Laboratoire des écoulements géophysiques et industriels, CNRS–INPG–UJF, B.P. 53, 38041 Grenoble cedex 9, France
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Chantal Staquet. Internal gravity waves: parametric instability and deep ocean mixing. Comptes Rendus. Mécanique, Volume 335 (2007) no. 9-10, pp. 665-678. doi : 10.1016/j.crme.2007.08.009. https://comptes-rendus.academie-sciences.fr/mecanique/articles/10.1016/j.crme.2007.08.009/

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