National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1993

Internal waves, dynamic instabilities, and turbulence in the equatorial thermocline: An introduction to three papers in this issue

Moum, J.N., M.J. McPhaden, D. Hebert, H. Peters, C.A. Paulson, and D.R. Caldwell

J. Phys. Oceanogr., 22(11), 1357–1359, doi: 10.1175/1520-0485(1992)022<1357:IWDIAT>2.0.CO;2 (1992)

Appearing in this issue of the Journal of Physical Oceanography are three papers that present new observations of a distinct, narrow band, and diurnally varying signal in temperature records obtained in the low Richardson number shear flow above the core of the equatorial undercurrent. Moored data suggest that the intrinsic frequency of the signal is near the local buoyancy frequency, while towed data indicate that the horizontal wavelength in the zonal direction is 150-250 m. Coincident microstructure profiling shows that this signal is associated with bursts of turbulent mixing. It seems that this narrowband signal represents the signature of instabilities that ultimately cause the turbulence observed in the equatorial thermocline. Common problems in interpreting the physics behind the signature are discussed here.

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