The Behavior of a Barotropic Eddy on a β-Plane

Eric Firing Joint Program in Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology/woods Hole Oceanographic institution, Woods Hole, Mass. 02543

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Robert C. Beardsley Department Of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139

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Abstract

An experimental method for producing an isolated eddy in a laboratory tank is described, along with the simple viscous theory of the behavior of the eddy in an ordinary cylindrical tank without the β-effect. The linear inviscid theory incorporating the β-effect is then developed as an initial value problem, and the solution is found as a summation of normal Rossby wave modes of the basin. This theoretical solution is compared with results from laboratory experiments and with numerical simulations obtained for the “sliced-cylinder” laboratory model. It is found that nonlinear effects lead to a cyclonic circulation in the northern half of the tank and an anticyclonic circulation in the southern half. Two simple models are developed to account for these induced circulations.

Abstract

An experimental method for producing an isolated eddy in a laboratory tank is described, along with the simple viscous theory of the behavior of the eddy in an ordinary cylindrical tank without the β-effect. The linear inviscid theory incorporating the β-effect is then developed as an initial value problem, and the solution is found as a summation of normal Rossby wave modes of the basin. This theoretical solution is compared with results from laboratory experiments and with numerical simulations obtained for the “sliced-cylinder” laboratory model. It is found that nonlinear effects lead to a cyclonic circulation in the northern half of the tank and an anticyclonic circulation in the southern half. Two simple models are developed to account for these induced circulations.

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