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Article

A Geometric Perspective on the Modulation of Potential Energy Release by a Lateral Potential Vorticity Gradient

Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
Current address: 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305, USA.
Fluids 2020, 5(3), 142; https://doi.org/10.3390/fluids5030142
Received: 21 July 2020 / Revised: 24 August 2020 / Accepted: 26 August 2020 / Published: 28 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Collection Geophysical Fluid Dynamics)
The release of available potential energy by growing baroclinic instability requires the slope of the eddy fluxes to be shallower than that of mean density surfaces, where the amount of energy released depends on both the flux angle and the distance of fluid parcel excursions against the background density gradient. The presence of a lateral potential vorticity (PV) gradient is known to affect the growth rate and energy release by baroclinic instability, but often makes the mathematics of formal linear stability analysis intractable. Here the effects of a lateral PV gradient on baroclinic growth are examined by considering its effects on the slope of the eddy fluxes. It is shown that the PV gradient systematically shifts the unstable modes toward higher wavenumbers and creates a cutoff to the instability at large scales, both of which steepen the eddy flux angle and limit the amount of energy released. This effect may contribute to the severe inhibition of baroclinic turbulence in systems dominated by barotropic jets, making them less likely to transition to turbulence-dominated flow regimes. View Full-Text
Keywords: quasigeostrophic; baroclinic instability; β-plane; growth rates quasigeostrophic; baroclinic instability; β-plane; growth rates
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bachman, S.D. A Geometric Perspective on the Modulation of Potential Energy Release by a Lateral Potential Vorticity Gradient. Fluids 2020, 5, 142. https://doi.org/10.3390/fluids5030142

AMA Style

Bachman SD. A Geometric Perspective on the Modulation of Potential Energy Release by a Lateral Potential Vorticity Gradient. Fluids. 2020; 5(3):142. https://doi.org/10.3390/fluids5030142

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bachman, Scott D. 2020. "A Geometric Perspective on the Modulation of Potential Energy Release by a Lateral Potential Vorticity Gradient" Fluids 5, no. 3: 142. https://doi.org/10.3390/fluids5030142

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