The Arctic Ocean is unique. It's remote, the influences from other ocean are restricted, and it is partially covered in ice. This makes the Arctic Ocean relatively quiet, with minimal vertical mixing. This allows a mass of warm Atlantic water to remain mostly undisturbed below the colder surface waters. The Arctic Ocean also has vertical density structures, called double diffusive staircases, which separate the ocean into many distinct layers at different depths.
As sea ice continues to decline, more of the Arctic Ocean is being exposed to storms which can transfer energy into the surface layer in the form of downward-propagating internal waves. When internal waves break, they can cause vertical mixing. While the double diffusive staircases present an obstacle for these internal waves, it is unclear how the interaction might develop with the changing Arctic Ocean. This interaction is investigated with simple wave tank models and direct numerical simulations.