Repository logo

A hierarchical decomposition of internal wave fields

Accepted version



Change log


Dobra, TE 
Lawrie, AGW 
Dalziel, SB 


jats:pInternal gravity wave fields are decomposed into temporal modes revealing the hierarchical structure of nonlinear wave–wave interactions. We present a novel fusion of Green's functions for solving the forced internal wave equation with a weakly nonlinear perturbation expansion. Our approach is semi-analytical, based on integration over finite elements with the perturbation expansion ensuring source terms at each order are only dependent on the solutions at lower orders. Thus, the procedure is purely inductive and efficient to compute. To perform a thorough validation of our new method, we diagnose experiments using synthetic Schlieren and apply sophisticated post-processing techniques, including dynamic mode decomposition, to obtain these temporal modes for systems with discrete input frequencies. By decomposing the experimental field and comparing individual constituents against equivalents synthesised by our model, we are able to present the first truly comprehensive, validated, mechanistic picture of wave–wave interactions to arbitrary order. This synergy enables us to identify non-wave oscillatory behaviour at frequencies shared by waves in the hierarchy and leads us to discover an important open question regarding transmission efficiency within individual wave–wave interactions. Although our experiments are generated by boundary displacements, we present equivalences between source terms and boundary displacements so that the class of applicable systems may be broadened. Our technique also generalises to aperiodic and unbounded configurations and to any weakly nonlinear wave-governed system for which there is an available Green's function.</jats:p>



internal waves

Journal Title

Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Cambridge University Press (CUP)