Emergence and Equilibration of Jets in Beta-Plane Turbulence: Applications of Stochastic Structural Stability Theory

Navid C. Constantinou Department of Physics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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Brian F. Farrell Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Petros J. Ioannou Department of Physics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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Abstract

Stochastic structural stability theory (S3T) provides analytical methods for understanding the emergence and equilibration of jets from the turbulence in planetary atmospheres based on the dynamics of the statistical mean state of the turbulence closed at second order. Predictions for formation and equilibration of turbulent jets made using S3T are critically compared with results of simulations made using the associated quasi-linear and nonlinear models. S3T predicts the observed bifurcation behavior associated with the emergence of jets, their equilibration, and their breakdown as a function of parameters. Quantitative differences in bifurcation parameter values between predictions of S3T and results of nonlinear simulations are traced to modification of the eddy spectrum which results from two processes: nonlinear eddy–eddy interactions and formation of discrete nonzonal structures. Remarkably, these nonzonal structures, which substantially modify the turbulence spectrum, are found to arise from S3T instability. Formation as linear instabilities and equilibration at finite amplitude of multiple equilibria for identical parameter values in the form of jets with distinct meridional wavenumbers is verified, as is the existence at equilibrium of finite-amplitude nonzonal structures in the form of nonlinearly modified Rossby waves. When zonal jets and nonlinearly modified Rossby waves coexist at finite amplitude, the jet structure is generally found to dominate even if it is linearly less unstable. The physical reality of the manifold of S3T jets and nonzonal structures is underscored by the existence in nonlinear simulations of jet structure at subcritical S3T parameter values that are identified with stable S3T jet modes excited by turbulent fluctuations.

Corresponding author address: Navid Constantinou, University of Athens, Department of Physics, Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics, Build IV, Office 32, Panepistimiopolis, 15784 Zografos, Athens, Greece. E-mail: navidcon@phys.uoa.gr

Abstract

Stochastic structural stability theory (S3T) provides analytical methods for understanding the emergence and equilibration of jets from the turbulence in planetary atmospheres based on the dynamics of the statistical mean state of the turbulence closed at second order. Predictions for formation and equilibration of turbulent jets made using S3T are critically compared with results of simulations made using the associated quasi-linear and nonlinear models. S3T predicts the observed bifurcation behavior associated with the emergence of jets, their equilibration, and their breakdown as a function of parameters. Quantitative differences in bifurcation parameter values between predictions of S3T and results of nonlinear simulations are traced to modification of the eddy spectrum which results from two processes: nonlinear eddy–eddy interactions and formation of discrete nonzonal structures. Remarkably, these nonzonal structures, which substantially modify the turbulence spectrum, are found to arise from S3T instability. Formation as linear instabilities and equilibration at finite amplitude of multiple equilibria for identical parameter values in the form of jets with distinct meridional wavenumbers is verified, as is the existence at equilibrium of finite-amplitude nonzonal structures in the form of nonlinearly modified Rossby waves. When zonal jets and nonlinearly modified Rossby waves coexist at finite amplitude, the jet structure is generally found to dominate even if it is linearly less unstable. The physical reality of the manifold of S3T jets and nonzonal structures is underscored by the existence in nonlinear simulations of jet structure at subcritical S3T parameter values that are identified with stable S3T jet modes excited by turbulent fluctuations.

Corresponding author address: Navid Constantinou, University of Athens, Department of Physics, Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics, Build IV, Office 32, Panepistimiopolis, 15784 Zografos, Athens, Greece. E-mail: navidcon@phys.uoa.gr
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