Internal wave attractors : from geometrical focusing to non-linear energy cascade and mixing

Abstract : A question of paramount importance in the dynamics of oceans is related to the energy cascade from large to small scales and its contribution to mixing. Internal wave attractors may be one of the possible mechanisms responsible for such a cascade. In this manuscript, we study experimentally internal wave attractors in a trapezoidal test tank filled with linearly stratified fluid. In such a geometry, the waves can form closed loops called attractors. We show that the attractor formation is purely linear: small scales are thus created by wave focusing. The attractor characteristics are found to only depend on the trapezoidal geometry of the tank. At the ocean scale, we show that attractors are very likely to be unstable. Indeed, internal wave attractors are prone to a triadic resonance instability, which transfers energy from the attractor to a pair of secondary waves. This instability and its main characteristics are described as a function of the geometry of the basin. For long-term experiments, the instability produces several pairs of secondary waves, creating a cascade of triadic interactions and transferring energy from large-scale monochromatic input to multi-scale internal-wave motion. We reveal, for the first time, experimental convincing signatures of internal wave turbulence. Beyond this cascade, we have a mixing regime, which appears to be independent of the trapezoidal geometry and, thus, universal. This manuscript is completed by a study on added mass and wave damping coefficient of bodies oscillating horizontally in a stratified fluid, with applications to tidal conversion.
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Christophe Brouzet. Internal wave attractors : from geometrical focusing to non-linear energy cascade and mixing. Fluid Dynamics [physics.flu-dyn]. Université de Lyon, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016LYSEN012⟩. ⟨tel-01361201⟩

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