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.

2011
Winters, KB, Bouruet-Aubertot P, Gerkema T.  2011.  Critical reflection and abyssal trapping of near-inertial waves on a β-plane. Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 684:111-136.   10.1017/jfm.2011.280   AbstractWebsite

We consider near-inertial waves continuously excited by a localized source and their subsequent radiation and evolution on a two-dimensional beta-plane. Numerical simulations are used to quantify the wave propagation and the energy flux in a realistically stratified ocean basin. We focus on the dynamics near and poleward of the inertial latitude where the local value of the Coriolis parameter f matches the forcing frequency sigma, contrasting the behaviour of waves under the traditional approximation (TA), where only the component of the Earth's rotation aligned with gravity is retained in the dynamics, with that obtained under the non-traditional approach (non-TA) in which the horizontal component of rotation is retained. Under the TA, assuming inviscid linear wave propagation in the WKB limit, all energy radiated from the source eventually propagates toward the equator, with the initially poleward propagation being internally reflected at the inertial latitude. Under the non-TA however, these waves propagate sub-inertially beyond their inertial latitude, exhibiting multiple reflections between internal turning points that lie poleward of the inertial latitude and the bottom. The numerical experiments complement and extend existing theory by relaxing the linearity and WKB approximations, and by illustrating the time development of the steadily forced flow and the spatial patterns of energy flux and flux divergence. The flux divergence of the flow at both the forcing frequency and its first harmonic reveal the spatial patterns of nonlinear energy transfer and highlight the importance of nonlinearity in the vicinity of near-critical bottom reflection at the inertial latitude of the forced waves.