## Abstract

This article aims to advance the understanding of inherent randomness in geophysical fluids by considering the particular example of baroclinic shear flows that are spatially uniform in the horizontal directions and aperiodic in time. The time variability of the shear is chosen to be the Kubo oscillator, which is a family of time-dependent bounded noise that is oscillatory in nature with various degrees of stochasticity.

The author analyzed the linear stability of a wide range of temporally periodic and aperiodic shears with a zero and nonzero mean to get a more complete understanding of the effect of oscillations in shear flows in the context of the two-layer quasigeostrophic Phillips model. It is determined that the parametric mode, which exists in the periodic limit, also exists in the range of small and moderate stochasticities but vanishes in highly erratic flows. Moreover, random variations weaken the effects of periodicity and yield growth rates more similar to that of the time-averaged steady-state analog. This signifies that the periodic shear flows possess the most extreme case of stabilization and destabilization and are thus anomalous. In the limit of an *f* plane, the linear stability problem is solved exactly to reveal that individual solutions to the linear dynamics with time-dependent baroclinic shear have growth rates that are equal to that of the time-averaged steady state. This implies that baroclinic shear flows with zero means are linearly stable in that they do not grow exponentially in time. This means that the stochastic mode that was found to exist in the Mathieu equation does not arise in this model. However, because the perturbations grow algebraically, the aperiodic baroclinic shear on an *f* plane can give rise to nonlinear instabilities.

*Corresponding author address:* Francis Poulin, Dept. of Applied Mathematics, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3G1. Email: fpoulin@uwaterloo.ca