Experimental study on internal waves in a stratified shear flow

Tadashi Andow, Kimio Hanawa, Yoshiaki Toba

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes experiments on interfacial phenomena in a stratified shear flow having a sharp velocity shear at a density interface. The interface was visualized in vertical cross-section using dye, and the flow pattern was traced using aluminum powder. Two kinds of internal waves with different phase velocities and wave profiles were observed. They are here named p(positive)-waves and n(negative)-waves, respectively. By means of a two-dimensional visualization technique, the following facts have been confirmed regarding these waves. (1) The two kinds of waves propagate in the opposite direction relative to a system moving with the mean velocity at the interface, and their dispersion relations approximately agree with the two solutions of interfacial waves in a two-layer system of a linear basic shear flow. (2) The p-wave has sharp crests and flat troughs, and the n-wave has the reverse of this. This difference in wave profile is due to the finite amplitude effect. (3) Phase velocity of each wave lies within the range of the mean velocity profile, so that a critical layer exists and each wave has a "cat's eye" flow pattern in the vicinity of the critical layer, when observed in a system moving with the phase velocity. Consequently, these two waves are symmetrical with respect to the interface. The mechanisms of generation of these waves, and the entrainment process are discussed. It is inferred that when the "cat's eye" flow pattern is distorted and a stagnation point approaches the interface, entrainment in the form of a stretched wisp from the lower to the upper layer occurs for the p-wave, and from the upper to the lower layer for the n-wave.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-192
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Oceanographical Society of Japan
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1981 Nov 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Soil Science
  • Engineering(all)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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