Tidal energy conversion in a global hot spot: On the 3-D dynamics of baroclinic tides at the Celtic Sea shelf break

Vasiliy Vlasenko, Nataliya Stashchuk, Mark E. Inall, Joanne E. Hopkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Globally, the Celtic Sea shelf break is ranked highest as an energetic “hot spot” of tidal energy conversion, therefore making it the most significant contributor to global internal tidal energy flux. In this paper, the three-dimensional dynamics of baroclinic tides in the shelf-slope area of the Celtic Sea was investigated numerically and using observational data collected on the 376th cruise of the RV “RRS Discovery” in June 2012. The time series recorded at a shelf break mooring showed that semidiurnal internal waves were accompanied by packets of internal solitary waves with maximum amplitudes up to 105 m, the largest internal waves ever recorded in the Celtic Sea, and ranking among the largest observed in the global ocean. The observed baroclinic wavefields were replicated numerically using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology general circulation model. A fine-resolution grid with 115 m horizontal and 10 m vertical steps allowed the identification of two classes of short-scale internal waves. The first classification was generated over headlands and resembles spiral-type internal waves that are typical for isolated underwater banks. The second classification, generated within an area of several canyons, revealed properties of quasi-planar internal wave packets. The observed in situ intensification of tidal bottom currents at the shelf break mooring is explained in terms of a tidal beam that was formed over supercritical bottom topography at the mooring location.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3249-3265
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-Oceans
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2014


  • 7ref2021


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