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A satellite view of internal waves induced by the Indian Ocean tsunami

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At 08:45 local time (02:45 GMT) on 26 December 2004, 1 h and 45 min after the Sumatra Earthquakes of magnitude 9.3, a devastating tsunami struck the east coast of Sri Lanka. Nearly 2 h and 30 min after the wave hit the coast, a weather satellite passed over Sri Lanka's coastal zone providing a rare glimpse of internal waves along the continental slope due to this tsunami. The satellite imagery indicates wave-like features from the tsunami being reflected, diffracted, and scattered off the steep continental slope and submarine canyons adjacent to Sri Lanka. The energetic wave and its modification to internal waves possibly eroded sediment from the sea floor and transported it to the sea surface. Solitary features generated by internal waves can explain the observed pattern. Future modelling approaches considering these nonlinear interactions would be required for a better understanding of the tsunami behaviour in the coastal zone, where its destructive effects are most prominent.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706 2: Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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