Circulation induced by isolated dense water formation over closed topographic contours
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The problem of localized dense water formation over a sloping bottom is considered for the general case in which the topography forms a closed contour. This class of problems is motivated by topography around islands or shallow shoals in which convection resulting from brine rejection or surface heat loss reaches the bottom. The focus of this study is on the large-scale circulation that is forced far from the region of surface forcing. The authors find that a cyclonic current is generated around the topography, in the opposite sense to the propagation of the dense water plume. In physical terms, this current results from the propagation of low sea surface height from the region of dense water formation anticyclonically along the topographic contours back to the formation region. This pressure gradient is then balanced by a cyclonic geostrophic flow. This basic structure is well predicted by a linear quasigeostrophic theory, a primitive equation model, and in rotating tank experiments. For sufficiently strong forcing, the anticyclonic circulation of the dense plume meets this cyclonic circulation to produce a sharp front and offshore advection of dense water at the bottom and buoyant water at the surface. This nonlinear limit is demonstrated in both the primitive equation model and in the tank experiments.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2017. 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 47 (2017): 2251-2265, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-17-0042.1.
Suggested CitationJournal of Physical Oceanography 47 (2017): 2251-2265
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