Continental shelf baroclinic instability. Part II : oscillating wind forcing
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Continental shelf baroclinic instability energized by fluctuating alongshore winds is treated using idealized primitive equation numerical model experiments. A spatially uniform alongshore wind, sinusoidal in time, alternately drives upwelling and downwelling and so creates highly variable, but slowly increasing, available potential energy. For all of the 30 model runs, conducted with a wide range of parameters (varying Coriolis parameter, initial stratification, bottom friction, forcing period, wind strength, and bottom slope), a baroclinic instability and subsequent eddy field develop. Model results and scalings show that the eddy kinetic energy increases with wind amplitude, forcing period, stratification, and bottom slope. The dominant alongshore length scale of the eddy field is essentially an internal Rossby radius of deformation. The resulting depth-averaged alongshore flow field is dominated by the large-scale, periodic wind forcing, while the cross-shelf flow field is dominated by the eddy variability. The result is that correlation length scales for alongshore flow are far greater than those for cross-shelf velocity. This scale discrepancy is qualitatively consistent with midshelf observations by Kundu and Allen, among others.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2015. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 46 (2016): 569-582, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-15-0048.1.
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