Properties of solitary wave trains at internal fronts in Lake Constance


In the thermocline of lakes and oceans high-frequency internal waves are considered to be the major source of turbulent kinetic energy and a key process driving vertical mixing. In Lake Constance the most energetic high-frequency waves are typically solitary waves generated at the steepened front of the basin scale internal Kelvin wave. The main questions addressed in this project are how stratification, the characteristics of the internal front and lake-morphometry affect the occurrence and properties of solitary wave trains at the internal front in Lake Constance, how much energy is lost from these solitary waves and the wave front to turbulence in the open water and how the properties of solitary wave trains change along their path of propagation. The study will combine the analysis of existing data on high-frequency temperature time series from several years with a new field experiment. The empirical investigations will be complemented by numerical modeling solving the Korteweg-de Vries / Korteweg-de Vries-Burgers equation with spatially varying coefficients to simulate solitary wave trains at the internal front. The spatial differences in solitary wave amplitude, the frequency of the occurrence of solitary waves provided by the statistical analysis and the empirical estimates of energy dissipation during the passage of solitary waves will provide a basis to assess the role of solitary waves for the energy flux from basin scale motion to turbulence and for mixing in the open water.

  • Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Department of Biology
Funding sources
Name Finanzierungstyp Kategorie Project no.
Sachbeihilfe/Normalverfahren third-party funds research funding program 761/10
Further information
Period: 01.01.2011 – 30.06.2012