As part of an ongoing effort to develop a parameterization of wave-induced abyssal mixing, the authors derive an heuristic model for nonlinear wave breaking and energy dissipation associated with internal tides. Then the saturation and dissipation of internal tides for idealized and observed topography samples are investigated. One of the main results is that the wave-induced mixing could be more intense and more confined to the bottom than previously assumed in numerical models. Furthermore, in this model wave breaking and mixing clearly depend on the small scales of the topography below 10 km or so, which is below the current resolution of global bathymetry. This motivates the use of a statistical approach to represent the unresolved topography when addressing the role of internal tides in mixing the deep ocean.
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