A Theory of Stationary Long Waves. Part III: Quasi-Normal Modes in a Singular Waveguide

K. K. Tung Centre for Earth and Planetary Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138

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Abstract

The present paper deals with the fundamental issue of whether one can treat waves as normal modes when critical surfaces, where the phase speed of the wave matches the zonal wind speed, are present. In particular the question of whether a Rossby critical level (such as the zero-wind line for stationary waves) is absorbing or reflecting is raised and subsequently addressed. It is found that the critical level is never totally absorbing; Rossby waves are partially reflected even if the critical layer is dominated by dissipative processes. The relevance of nonlinearity in planetary-scale Rossby wave critical layers is also discussed and it is found to be the dominant mechanism. With the relative magnitudes of nonlinearity versus viscosity relevant to the earth's atmosphere it is found that the steady-state critical level should be almost perfectly reflecting to incident Rossby waves. Consequently, normal-mode solutions can be found; the quantization condition for these waves is also derived.

Abstract

The present paper deals with the fundamental issue of whether one can treat waves as normal modes when critical surfaces, where the phase speed of the wave matches the zonal wind speed, are present. In particular the question of whether a Rossby critical level (such as the zero-wind line for stationary waves) is absorbing or reflecting is raised and subsequently addressed. It is found that the critical level is never totally absorbing; Rossby waves are partially reflected even if the critical layer is dominated by dissipative processes. The relevance of nonlinearity in planetary-scale Rossby wave critical layers is also discussed and it is found to be the dominant mechanism. With the relative magnitudes of nonlinearity versus viscosity relevant to the earth's atmosphere it is found that the steady-state critical level should be almost perfectly reflecting to incident Rossby waves. Consequently, normal-mode solutions can be found; the quantization condition for these waves is also derived.

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