Eddies and friction : removal of vorticity from the wind-driven gyre
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Inertial terms dominate the single-gyre ocean model and prevent western-intensification when the viscosity is small. This occurs long before the oceanically-appropriate parameter range. It is demonstrated here that the circulation is controlled if a mechanism for ultimate removal of vorticity exists, even if it is active only in a narrow region near the boundary. Vorticity removal is modeled here as a viscosity enhanced very near the solid boundaries to roughly parameterize missing boundary physics like topographic interaction and three dimensional turbulence over the shelf. This boundary-enhanced viscosity allows western-intensified mean flows even when the inertial boundary width, is much wider than the frictional region because eddies flux vorticity from within the interior streamlines to the frictional region for removal. Using boundary-enhanced viscosity, western-intensified calculations are possible with lower interior viscosity than in previous studies. Interesting behaviors result: a boundary-layer balance novel to the model, calculations with promise for eddy parameterization, eddy-driven gyres rotating opposite the wind, and temporal complexity including basin resonances. I also demonstrate that multiple-gyre calculations have weaker mean circulation than single-gyres with the same viscosity and subtropical forcing. Despite traditional understanding, almost no inter-gyre flux occurs if no-slip boundary conditions are used. The inter-gyre eddy flux is in control only with exactly symmetric gyres and free slip boundaries. Even without the inter-gyre flux, the multiple-gyre circulation is weak because of sinuous instabilities on the jet which are not present in the single-gyre model. These modes efficiently flux vorticity to the boundary and reduce the circulation without an inter-gyre flux, postponing inertial domination to much smaller viscosities. Then sinuous modes in combination with boundary-enhanced viscosity can control the circulation.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution June 2003
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