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Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Recently, a new theoretical and conceptual model of quasigeostrophic turbulence has been advanced in which eddy variance is regarded as being maintained by transient growth of perturbations arising from sources including the nonlinear interactions among the eddies, but crucially without a direct contribution of unstable modal growth to the maintenance of variance. This theory is based on the finding that stochastic forcing of the subcritical atmospheric flow supports variance arising from induced transfer of energy from the background flow to the disturbance field that substantially exceeds the variance expected from the decay rate of the associated normal modes in an equivalent normal system. Herein the authors prove that such amplification of variance is a general property of the stochastic dynamics of systems governed by nonnormal evolution operators and that consequently the response of the atmosphere to unbiased forcing is always underestimated when consideration is limited to the response of the system's individual normal modes to stochastic excitation.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Obtaining a physically based understanding of the variations with spatial scale of the amplitude and dispersive properties of midlatitude transient baroclinic waves and the heat flux associated with these waves is a central goal of dynamic meteorology and climate studies. Recently, stochastic forcing of highly nonnormal dynamical systems, such as arise from analysis of the equations governing perturbations to the midlatitude westerly jet, has been shown to induce large transfers of energy from the mean to the perturbation scale. In the case of a baroclinic atmospheric jet, this energy transfer to the synoptic scale produces dispersive properties, distributions of wave energy with wavenumber, and heat fluxes that are intrinsically associated with the nonnormal dynamics underlying baroclinic wave development.

In this work a method for calculating the spectrum and heat flux arising from stochastic forcing is described and predictions of this theory for a model atmosphere are compared with observations. The calculated energy spectrum is found to be in remarkable agreement with observations, in contrast with the predictions of modal instability theory. The calculated heat flux exhibits a realistic distribution with height and its associated energetic cycle agrees with observed seasonal mean energetics.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Classical stability theory is extended to include transient growth processes. The central role of the nonnormality of the linearized dynamical system in the stability problem is emphasized, and a generalized stability theory is constructed that is applicable to the transient as well as the asymptotic stability of time-independent flows. Simple dynamical systems are used as examples including an illustrative nonnormal two-dimensional operator, the Eady model of baroclinic instability, and a model of convective instability in baroclinic flow.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

An extension of classical stability theory to address the stability of perturbations to time-dependent systems is described. Nonnormality is found to play a central role in determining the stability of systems governed by nonautonomous operators associated with time-dependent systems. This pivotal role of nonnormality provides a conceptual bridge by which the generalized stability theory developed for analysis of autonomous operators can be extended naturally to nonautonomous operators. It has been shown that nonnormality leads to transient growth in autonomous systems, and this result can be extended to show further that time-dependent nonnormality of nonautonomous operators is capable of sustaining this transient growth leading to asymptotic instability. This general destabilizing effect associated with the time dependence of the operator is explored by analysing parametric instability in periodic and aperiodic time-dependent operators. Simple dynamical systems are used as examples including the parametrically destabilized harmonic oscillator, growth of errors in the Lorenz system, and the asymptotic destabilization of the quasigeostrophic three-layer model by stochastic vacillation of the zonal wind.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

The problem of growth of small perturbations in fluid flow and the related problem of maintenance of perturbation variance has traditionally been studied by appeal to exponential modal instability of the flow. In the event that a flow supports an exponentially growing modal solution, the initially unbounded growth of the mode is taken as more or less compelling evidence for eventual flow breakdown. However, atmospheric flows are characterized by large thermally forced background rates of strain and are subject to perturbations that are not infinitesimal in amplitude. Under these circumstances there is an alternative mechanism for growth and maintenance of perturbation variance: amplification in a straining flow of stochastically forced perturbations in the absence of exponential instabilities. From this viewpoint the flow is regarded as a driven amplifier rather than as an unstable oscillator. We explore this mechanism using as examples unbounded constant shear and pure deformation flow for which closed-form solutions are available and neither of which supports a nonsingular mode. With diffusive dissipation we find that amplification of isotropic band-limited stochastic driving is unbounded for the case of pure deformation and bounded by a threefold increase at large shear for the case of a linear velocity profile. A phenomenological model of the contribution of linear and nonlinear damped modes to the maintenance of variance results in variance levels increasing linearly with shear. We conclude that amplification of stochastic forcing in a straining field can maintain a variance field substantially more energetic than that resulting from the same forcing in the absence of a background straining flow. Our results further indicate that existence of linear and nonlinear damped modes is important in maintaining high levels of variance by the mechanism of stochastic excitation.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

The maintenance of variance and attendant heat flux in linear, forced, dissipative baroclinic shear flows subject to stochastic excitation is examined. The baroclinic problem is intrinsically nonnormal and its stochastic dynamics is found to differ significantly from the more familiar stochastic dynamics of normal systems. When the shear is sufficiently great in comparison to dissipative effects, stochastic excitation supports highly enhanced variance levels in these nonnormal systems compared to variance levels supported by the same forcing and dissipation in related normal systems. The eddy variance and associated heat flux are found to arise in response to transient amplification of a subset of forcing functions that obtain energy from the mean flow and project this energy on a distinct subset of response functions (E0Fs) that are in turn distinct from the set of normal modes of the system. A method for obtaining the dominant forcing and response functions as well as the distribution of heat flux for a given flow is described.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Transient development of perturbations in inviscid stratified shear flow is investigated. Use is made of closed form analytic solutions that allow concise identification of optimally growing plane-wave solutions for the case of an unbounded flow with constant shear and stratification. For the case of channel flow, variational techniques are employed to determine the optimally growing disturbances.

The maximum energy growth attained over a specific time interval decreases continuously with increasing stratification, and no special significance attaches to Ri = 0.25. Indeed, transient growth can be substantial even for Ri = O(1). A general lower bound on the energy growth attained by an optimal perturbation in a stratified flow over a given time interval is the square root of the growth attained by the corresponding perturbation in unstratified flow. Enhanced perturbation persistence is found for mean-flow stratification lying in the range 0.1 < Ri < 0.3. Small but finite perturbations in mean flow with Ri < 0.4 produce regions with locally negative total density gradient, which are expected to overturn. Although the perturbations are of wave form, buoyancy fluxes mediate transfer between perturbation kinetic and potential energy during transient development, thus implying that buoyancy flux is not a determinative diagnostic for distinguishing between waves and turbulence in stratified flows.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Understanding the physical mechanism maintaining fluid turbulence remains a fundamental theoretical problem. The two-layer model is an analytically and computationally simple system in which the dynamics of turbulence can be conveniently studied; in this work, a maximally simplified model of the statistically steady turbulent state in this system is constructed to isolate and identify the essential mechanism of turbulence. In this minimally complex turbulence model the effects of nonlinearity are parameterized using an energetically consistent stochastic process that is white in both space and time, turbulent fluxes are obtained using a stochastic turbulence model (STM), and statistically steady turbulent states are identified using stochastic structural stability theory (SSST). These turbulent states are the fixed-point equilibria of the nonlinear SSST system. For parameter values typical of the midlatitude atmosphere, these equilibria predict the emergence of marginally stable eddy-driven baroclinic jets. The eddy variances and fluxes associated with these jets and the power-law scaling of eddy variances and fluxes are consistent with observations and simulations of baroclinic turbulence. This optimally simple model isolates the essential physics of baroclinic turbulence: maintenance of variance by transient perturbation growth, replenishment of the transiently growing subspace by nonlinear energetically conservative eddy–eddy scattering, and equilibration to a statistically steady state of marginal stability by a combination of nonlinear eddy-induced mean jet modification and eddy dissipation. These statistical equilibrium states provide a theory for the general circulation of baroclinically turbulent planetary atmospheres.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Perturbation growth in uncertain systems is examined and related to previous work in which linear stability concepts were generalized from a perspective based on the nonnormality of the underlying linear operator. In this previous work the linear operator, subject to an initial perturbation or a stochastic forcing distributed in time, was either fixed or time varying, but in either case the operator was certain. However, in forecast and climate studies, complete knowledge of the dynamical system being perturbed is generally lacking; nevertheless, it is often the case that statistical properties characterizing the variability of the dynamical system are known. In the present work generalized stability theory is extended to such uncertain systems. The limits in which fluctuations about the mean of the operator are correlated over time intervals, short and long, compared to the timescale of the mean operator are examined and compared with the physically important transitional case of operator fluctuation on timescales comparable to the timescales of the mean operator. Exact and asymptotically valid equations for transient ensemble mean and moment growth in uncertain systems are derived and solved. In addition, exact and asymptotically valid equations for the ensemble mean response of a stable uncertain system to deterministic forcing are derived and solved. The ensemble mean response of the forced stable uncertain system obtained from this analysis is interpreted under the ergodic assumption as equal to the time mean of the state of the uncertain system as recorded by an averaging instrument. Optimal perturbations are obtained for the ensemble mean of an uncertain system in the case of harmonic forcing. Finally, it is shown that the remarkable systematic increase in asymptotic growth rate with moment in uncertain systems occurs only in the context of the ensemble.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Perturbation growth in uncertain systems associated with fluid flow is examined concentrating on deriving, solving, and interpreting equations governing the ensemble mean covariance. Covariance evolution equations are obtained for fluctuating operators and illustrative physical examples are solved. Stability boundaries are obtained constructively in terms of the amplitude and structure of operator fluctuation required for existence of bounded second-moment statistics in an uncertain system. The forced stable uncertain system is identified as a primary physical realization of second-moment dynamics by using an ergodic assumption to make the physical connection between ensemble statistics of stable stochastically excited systems and observations of time mean quantities. Optimal excitation analysis plays a central role in generalized stability theory and concepts of optimal deterministic and stochastic excitation of certain systems are extended in this work to uncertain systems. Remarkably, the optimal excitation problem has a simple solution in uncertain systems: there is a pure structure producing the greatest expected ensemble perturbation growth when this structure is used as an initial condition, and a pure structure that is most effective in exciting variance when this structure is used to stochastically force the system distributed in time.

Optimal excitation analysis leads to an interpretation of the EOF structure of the covariance both for the case of optimal initial excitation and for the optimal stochastic excitation distributed in time that maintains the statistically steady state. Concepts of pure and mixed states are introduced for interpreting covariances and these ideas are used to illustrate fundamental limitations on inverting covariances for structure in stochastic systems in the event that only the covariance is known.

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