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Effect of Top and Bottom Boundary Conditions on Symmetric Instability under Full-Component Coriolis Force

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  • 1 Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, National Defense Academy, Yokosuka, Japan
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The linear stability of a zonal flow confined in a domain within horizontal top and bottom boundaries is examined under full consideration of the Coriolis force. The basic zonal flow is assumed to be in thermal wind balance with the density field and to be sheared in both vertical and horizontal directions under statically and inertially stable conditions. By imposing top and bottom boundary conditions in this framework, the number of wave modes increases to four, instead of two in an unbounded domain, as already reported in studies on internal gravity waves. The four modes are classified into two pairs of high- and low-frequency modes: the high modes are superinertial and the low modes are subinertial. The discriminant of symmetric instability is nevertheless determined by the sign of the potential vorticity of the basic zonal flow, as in the case of an unbounded domain. The solutions satisfying the top and bottom boundary conditions are interpreted as the superposition of incident and reflected waves, revealing that the neutral solutions consist of two neutral plane waves with oppositely directed vertical group velocities. This may explain why the properties of wave behavior, such as the instability criteria, remain the same in both the bounded and unbounded domains, although the manifestation of wave activity, such as the order of dispersion relation, is quite different in the two cases. Furthermore, the slope of the constant momentum surface, the slope of the isopycnic surface including the nontraditional effect of the Coriolis force, and the ratio between the frequencies of gravity and inertial waves form an essential set of parameters for symmetric motion. The combination of these dimensionless quantities determines the fundamental nature of symmetric motions, such as stability, regardless of boundary conditions with and without the horizontal component of the planetary vorticity.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Toshihisa Itano, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, National Defense Academy, 1-10-20, Hashirimizu, Yokosuka 239-8686, Japan. E-mail: itano@nda.ac.jp

Abstract

The linear stability of a zonal flow confined in a domain within horizontal top and bottom boundaries is examined under full consideration of the Coriolis force. The basic zonal flow is assumed to be in thermal wind balance with the density field and to be sheared in both vertical and horizontal directions under statically and inertially stable conditions. By imposing top and bottom boundary conditions in this framework, the number of wave modes increases to four, instead of two in an unbounded domain, as already reported in studies on internal gravity waves. The four modes are classified into two pairs of high- and low-frequency modes: the high modes are superinertial and the low modes are subinertial. The discriminant of symmetric instability is nevertheless determined by the sign of the potential vorticity of the basic zonal flow, as in the case of an unbounded domain. The solutions satisfying the top and bottom boundary conditions are interpreted as the superposition of incident and reflected waves, revealing that the neutral solutions consist of two neutral plane waves with oppositely directed vertical group velocities. This may explain why the properties of wave behavior, such as the instability criteria, remain the same in both the bounded and unbounded domains, although the manifestation of wave activity, such as the order of dispersion relation, is quite different in the two cases. Furthermore, the slope of the constant momentum surface, the slope of the isopycnic surface including the nontraditional effect of the Coriolis force, and the ratio between the frequencies of gravity and inertial waves form an essential set of parameters for symmetric motion. The combination of these dimensionless quantities determines the fundamental nature of symmetric motions, such as stability, regardless of boundary conditions with and without the horizontal component of the planetary vorticity.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Toshihisa Itano, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, National Defense Academy, 1-10-20, Hashirimizu, Yokosuka 239-8686, Japan. E-mail: itano@nda.ac.jp
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