The synthetic aperture radar ocean surface signature of atmospheric internal gravity waves in the vicinity of a synoptic-scale warm front is examined via a classic Kelvin-Helmholtz velocity profile with a rigid lower boundary and a sloping interface. The horizontal distance that the waves extend from the surface warm front is consistent with a bifurcation along the warm frontal inversion from unstable to neutral solutions. Similarity theories are derived for the wave span and the location of maximum growth rate relative to the surface front position. The theoretical maximum wave growth rate is demonstrated to occur near this bifurcation point and, hence, to explain the observed pattern of wave amplitude. Finally, a wave crest-tracing procedure is developed to explain the observed acute orientation of waves with respect to the surface warm front.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science