Observations of Multiple Internal Wave Packets in a Tidal River Plume

Sabine Rijnsburger*, Raúl P. Flores, Julie D. Pietrzak, Kevin G. Lamb, Nicole L. Jones, Alexander R. Horner-Devine, Alejandro J. Souza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Remotely sensed images document the occurrence of multiple packets of internal solitary waves (ISWs) in the Rhine River plume at the same time. We use a combination of field observations, and non-hydrostatic and hydrostatic modeling to understand the processes that lead to the generation and retention of multiple ISW packets within the Rhine plume. Previous numerical modeling shows that the tidal plume front is trapped in the mid-field plume for more than one tidal cycle due to tidal straining and recirculation within the plume, resulting in the presence of multiple fronts in the near-and mid-field plume regions. In this work, we show how variations in the strength of these fronts can lead to the release of ISW packets. We conclude that the retention of the fronts in the mid-field region of the plume and modulation in the strength of the fronts can explain the presence of multiple ISW packets. A frontal Froude number analysis shows that fronts generated during the previous ebb tide can release ISWs in addition to the newly released tidal plume front.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020JC016575
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • field data
  • Froude number
  • internal solitary waves
  • numerical model
  • river plume
  • tidal plume front


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