Partly standing internal tides in a dendritic submarine canyon observed by an ocean glider

Rob A. Hall, Tahmeena Aslam, Veerle A. I. Huvenne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

An autonomous ocean glider is used to make the first direct measurements of internal tides within Whittard Canyon, a large, dendritic submarine canyon system that incises the Celtic Sea continental slope and a site of high benthic biodiversity. This is the first time a glider has been used for targeted observations of internal tides in a submarine canyon. Vertical isopycnal displacement observations at different stations fit a one-dimensional model of partly standing semidiurnal internal tides – comprised of a major, incident wave propagating up the canyon limbs and a minor wave reflected back down-canyon by steep, supercritical bathymetry near the canyon heads. The up-canyon internal tide energy flux in the primary study limb decreases from 9.2 to 2.0 kW m−1 over 28 km (a dissipation rate of View the MathML source), comparable to elevated energy fluxes and internal tide driven mixing measured in other canyon systems. Within Whittard Canyon, enhanced mixing is inferred from collapsed temperature-salinity curves and weakened dissolved oxygen concentration gradients near the canyon heads. It has previously been hypothesised that internal tides impact benthic fauna through elevated near-bottom current velocities and particle resuspension. In support of this, we infer order 20 cm s−1 near-bottom current velocities in the canyon and observe high concentrations of suspended particulate matter. The glider observations are also used to estimate a 1 °C temperature range and 12 μmol kg−1 dissolved oxygen concentration range, experienced twice a day by organisms on the canyon walls, due to the presence of internal tides. This study highlights how a well-designed glider mission, incorporating a series of tide-resolving stations at key locations, can be used to understand internal tide dynamics in a region of complex topography, a sampling strategy that is applicable to continental shelves and slopes worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
JournalDeep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
Volume126
Early online date1 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Keywords

  • Internal tides
  • Submarine canyons
  • Ocean gliders
  • Celtic Sea
  • Whittard Canyon

Cite this