Publications

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2018
Tort, M, Winters KB.  2018.  Poleward propagation of near-inertial waves induced by fluctuating winds over a baroclinically unstable zonal jet. Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 834:510-530.   10.1017/jfm.2017.698   AbstractWebsite

We investigate the excitation and radiation of near-inertial internal gravity waves continuously excited by a latitudinally confined temporally fluctuating wind in a numerical model of a stratified ocean on a beta-plane at mid-latitude. The surface wind forcing contains both high- and low-frequency components which excite propagating waves and a baroclinically unstable zonal jet respectively. Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin (WKB) ray theory implies that near-inertial waves propagate strictly towards the equator. We seek to refine this view here by (i) adding the non-traditional Coriolis force (accounting for the horizontal component of the Earth's rotation) into the equations of motion, in order to allow poleward sub-inertial propagation to occur, and (ii) relaxing the conceptual constraint of no zonal variability, to allow the zonal jet to undergo instability, to meander and to sustain an active field of mesoscale eddies, potentially impacting the excitation of near-inertial waves. The key results are that, while (i) permits weakly stratified waveguides with sub-inertial poleward wave propagation to develop in accord with theory, the sub-inertial energy flux observed is very small compared with the equatorward flux. Thus, in terms of energy radiated from the storm track, non-traditional effects are small for wind-driven near-inertial waves. The consequences of (ii) are much more pronounced. Refinement (ii) produces a radiating wave field that is bidirectional, i.e. with both poleward and equatorward components. We show that the presence of regions of significant background vorticity with horizontal scales significantly smaller than the width of the storm track provides the scale selection mechanism to excite waves with sufficiently super-inertial frequencies to propagate poleward distances of the order of 1000 km.

2013
Barkan, R, Winters KB, Smith SGL.  2013.  Rotating horizontal convection. Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 723:556-586.   10.1017/jfm.2013.136   AbstractWebsite

'Horizontal convection' (HC) is the generic name for the flow resulting from a buoyancy variation imposed along a horizontal boundary of a fluid. We study the effects of rotation on three-dimensional HC numerically in two stages: first, when baroclinic instability is suppressed and, second, when it ensues and baroclinic eddies are formed. We concentrate on changes to the thickness of the near-surface boundary layer, the stratification at depth, the overturning circulation and the flow energetics during each of these stages. Our results show that, for moderate flux Rayleigh numbers (O(10(11))), rapid rotation greatly alters the steady-state solution of HC. When the flow is constrained to be uniform in the transverse direction, rapidly rotating solutions do not support a boundary layer, exhibit weaker overturning circulation and greater stratification at all depths. In this case, diffusion is the dominant mechanism for lateral buoyancy flux and the consequent buildup of available potential energy leads to baroclinically unstable solutions. When these rapidly rotating flows are perturbed, baroclinic instability develops and baroclinic eddies dominate both the lateral and vertical buoyancy fluxes. The resulting statistically steady solution supports a boundary layer, larger values of deep stratification and multiple overturning cells compared with non-rotating HC. A transformed Eulerian-mean approach shows that the residual circulation is dominated by the quasi-geostrophic eddy streamfunction and that the eddy buoyancy flux has a non-negligible interior diabatic component. The kinetic and available potential energies are greater than in the non-rotating case and the mixing efficiency drops from similar to 0.7 to similar to 0.17. The eddies play an important role in the formation of the thermal boundary layer and, together with the negatively buoyant plume, help establish deep stratification. These baroclinically active solutions have characteristics of geostrophic turbulence.