Research

Inside the Strait of Gibraltar

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When a fluid is stratified into layers, it’s possible to have waves generated and transmitted along the interface between layers. Because these waves remain inside the bulk fluid, they are called internal waves. They often occur in the atmosphere or the ocean as fluids with different properties move past changing terrain. The Strait of Gibraltar is an excellent source of internal waves. The tidal exchange of waters between the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean takes place through a narrow corridor interrupted by the peak of Camarinal Sill. The internal waves generated by the constriction are large enough that their effect on the surface flow is visible to satellites. The video above visualizations data from a numerical simulation of flow through the Strait, showing the obstacles, flow, and wave structures generated. (Video credit: J.C. Sanchez Garrido et al.)

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