A casual observer from a bluff or hillside overlooking the ocean may notice that the sea surface appears rough and smooth. Moreover, a less casual observer, may discern that this smoothness and roughness can take the form of quasilinear or meandering bands; and even less casual and patient observer, will notice that these bands move.
These bands, in some cases, are caused by nonlinear internal waves propagating across the coastal oceans, invisible to the eye except for when the conditions are right for these bands to form. These "internal" waves, are similar to the surface waves we typically see across the ocean, but they occur within the water column and they travel along the boundaries between water masses with slightly different densities (think: the thermocline).
Sea-going oceanographers and meteorologists have long seen these bands and many may have pontificated on their generation and/or impact on the atmosphere. During our recent field campaign, a truly fortuitous combination of measurement capabilities with environmental conditions gave us the opportunity to shed some quantitative light on this subject. Some food for thought; or ammunition for the next jaunty debate held within a ship's galley or at a experimental shore site. The full manuscript is available here: