Nonlinear stratified spindown over a slope
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Nonlinear stratified spindown of an along-isobath current over an insulated slope is shown to develop asymmetries in the vertical circulation and vertical relative vorticity field. During spindown, cyclonic vorticity is weakened to a greater extent than anticyclonic vorticity near the boundary because of buoyancy advection. As a consequence, Ekman pumping is weakened over Ekman suction. Momentum advection can weaken Ekman pumping and strengthen Ekman suction. Time-dependent feedback between the geostrophic flow and the frictional secondary circulation induces asymmetry in cyclonic and anticyclonic vorticity away from the boundary. Buoyancy advection over a slope can modify the secondary circulation such that anticyclonic vorticity decays faster than cyclonic vorticity outside the boundary layer. In contrast, momentum advection can cause cyclonic vorticity to spin down faster than anticyclonic vorticity. A scaling and analytical solutions are derived for when buoyancy advection over a slope can have a more significant impact than momentum advection on these asymmetries. In order to test this scaling and analytical solutions, numerical experiments are run in which both buoyancy and momentum advection are active. These solutions are contrasted with homogeneous or stratified spindown over a flat bottom, in which momentum advection controls the asymmetries. These results are applied to ocean currents over continental shelves and slopes.
Author Posting. © Cambridge University Press, 2013. This article is posted here by permission of Cambridge University Press for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Fluid Mechanics 726 (2013): 371-403, doi:10.1017/jfm.2013.231.