Internal waves exist everywhere in stratified fluids - fluids whose density changes with depth. The two largest bodies of stratified fluid are the atmosphere and ocean. Internal waves are generated from a variety of mechanisms. One common mechanism is wind forcing over repeated sinusoidal topography, like a series of hills. When modeling these waves, linear theory has been employed due to its ease and low computational cost. However, recent research has shown that non-linear effects, such as boundary layer separation, may have a dramatic impact on wave generation. This research has consisted of experimentation on sloped, sinusoidal hills. As of yet, no experimental research has been done to characterize internal wave generation when repeated sinusoidal hills lie on a sloped surface such as a continental slope or a foothill. In order to perform this experiment, a laboratory was built which employed the synthetic schlieren method of wave visualization. Measurements were taken to find wind speed, boundary layer thickness, and density perturbation. From these data, an analysis was performed on wave propagation angle, wave amplitude, and pressure drag. The result of the analysis shows that when wind blows across a series of sloped sinusoidal hills, fluid becomes trapped in the troughs of the hills resulting in a lower apparent forcing amplitude. The generated waves contain less energy than linear predictions. Additionally, the sloped hills produce waves which propagate at an angle away from the viewer. A necessary correction, which shifts from the reference frame of the observer to the reference plane of the waves is described. When this correction is applied, it is shown that linear theory may only be applied for low Froude numbers. At high Froude numbers, the effect of the boundary layer is great enough that the wave characteristics deviate significantly from linear theory predictions. The analyzed data agrees well with previous studies which show a similar deviation from linear theory.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


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internal waves, stratified flow, synthetic schlieren, topography, continental slope