There is no theoretical underpinning that successfully explains how turbulent mixing is fed by wave breaking associated with nonlinear wave-wave interactions in the background oceanic internal wavefield. We address this conundrum using one-dimensional ray tracing simulations to investigate interactions between high frequency internal waves and inertial oscillations in the extreme scale separated limit known as “Induced Diffusion”. Here, estimates of phase locking are used to define a resonant process (a resonant well) and a non-resonant process that results in stochastic jumps. The small amplitude limit consists of jumps that are small compared to the scale of the resonant well. The ray tracing simulations are used to estimate the first and second moments of a wave packet’s vertical wavenumber as it evolves from an initial condition. These moments are compared with predictions obtained from the diffusive approximation to a self-consistent kinetic equation derived in the ‘Direct Interaction Approximation’. Results indicate that the first and second moments of the two systems evolve in a nearly identical manner when the inertial field has amplitudes an order of magnitude smaller than oceanic values. At realistic (oceanic) amplitudes, though, the second moment estimated from the ray tracing simulations is inhibited. The transition is explained by the stochastic jumps obtaining the characteristic size of the resonant well. We interpret this transition as an adiabatic ‘saturation’ process which changes the nominal background wavefield from supporting no
mixing to the point where that background wavefield defines the normalization for oceanic mixing models.
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