An Empirical Model for Mode-1 Internal Tides Derived from Satellite Altimetry: Computing Accurate Tidal Predictions at Arbitrary Points over the World Oceans
A frequency–wavenumber tidal analysis for deriving internal-tide harmonic constants from TOPEX/Poseidon (T/P) measurements of sea-surface height (SSH) has been developed, taking advantage of the evident temporal and spatial coherence and the weak dissipation of internal tides. Previous analyses consisted of simple tidal analysis at individual points, which gave inconsistent harmonic constants at altimeter track crossover points. Such analyses have difficulty in distinguishing between the effects of interference, incoherence, and dissipation. The frequency–wavenumber analysis provides an objective way to interpolate the internal tides measured along altimetry tracks to any arbitrary point, while leveraging all available data for optimal tidal estimates. Tidal analysis of T/P data from 2000 to 2007 is used to predict in situ time series measured during the 2001–2002 Hawaiian Ocean mixing experiment (HOME), the 1987 reciprocal tomography experiment (RTE87), and the 1991 acoustic mid-ocean dynamics experiment (AMODE), demonstrating both the temporal coherence and the lack of incoherent elements to this wave propagation. It has been conjectured that significant energy would be lost from mode-1 internal tides as they cross the 28.9°N critical latitude of parametric subharmonic instability (PSI). No apparent change in amplitude at 28.9°N was detected by this analysis, however. Further, after correcting for changes in background stratification, the amplitude of the mode-1 internal tide was found to decrease by less than 20% over the 2000 km between the Hawaiian Ridge and 40°N. A significant fraction of the variability of internal waves, that component associated with mode-1 internal tides, appears to be predictable over most of the world's oceans, using harmonic constants derived from satellite altimetry.