Coastal Ocean Processes Experiment (COPE) 1996

[Image of soliton displacements of the thermocline]

A three week observation of the upper ocean near the shelf break off northern Oregon was made from FLIP in October 1995, during the Coastal Ocean Processes Experiment (COPE) run by NOAA's Environmental Technology Laboratory. Over 18000 profiles of temperature, salinity, and thermal and kinetic energy dissipation rates were measured by an automated Loose-tethered Microstructure Profiler every 80 seconds, allowing the upper ocean stratification and turbulence levels to be observed. Five in situ measurements of (u,v,w,T,C) were made across a 5m aperture spanning the shallow, strongly stratified pycnocline, while a high speed five beam Broadband Acoustic Doppler profiler extended the current profiles to 50m depth.

These measurements were optimized to study energetic solitons which were generated near the shelf break and propagated shoreward past FLIP, which was tri-moored in 150m of water. Extremely nonlinear solitons, with downward displacements of 25m from a 7m pycnocline depth were observed on the leading edge of the semidiurnal internal tide. At times of maximum tidal forcing, these soliton packets changed the upper ocean turbulent diffusivity by up to two orders of magnitude.

Last Reviewed: February 2003
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Stanton, T. P. and L. A. Ostrovsky. "Observations of Highly Nonlinear Internal Solitons Over the Continental Shelf", submitted to Science, 1997.

Stanton, T. P. and L. A Ostrovsky. "Turbulent Mixing Forced by Strongly Nonlinear Internal Solitons over the Continental Shelf. In prep.