Harry L. Swinney

2015 Laufer Lecture

Sid Richardson Foundation Regents Chair
Department of Physics, College of Natural Sciences
University of Texas at Austin

Title: “Internal Gravity Wave Energy in the Oceans”


Internal gravity waves occur inside fluids whose density varies with depth, as happens in the atmosphere, oceans, and protoplanetary disks. In the oceans the internal waves produced by tidal flow over bottom topography travel thousands of kilometers, affecting ocean mixing and currents, and ultimately impacting the climate. However, it is difficult to make accurate estimates of the total internal wave energy in the oceans because of the complexity of ocean topography and the constructive and destructive interference of the waves. This talk presents results from laboratory experiments, numerical simulations, and ocean observations that yield insight into internal wave dynamics and improve estimates of the total internal wave energy.