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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

Asymptotic linear stability of time-dependent flows is examined by extending to nonautonomous systems methods of nonnormal analysis that were recently developed for studying the stability of autonomous systems. In the case of either an autonomous or a nonautonomous operator, singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis of the propagator leads to identification of a complete set of optimal perturbations ordered according to the extent of growth over a chosen time interval as measured in a chosen inner product generated norm. The long-time asymptotic structure in the case of an autonomous operator is the norm-independent, most rapidly growing normal mode while in the case of the nonautonomous operator it is the first Lyapunov vector that grows at the norm independent mean rate of the first Lyapunov exponent. While information about the first normal mode such as its structure, energetics, vorticity budget, and growth rate are easily accessible through eigenanalysis of the dynamical operator, analogous information about the first Lyapunov vector is less easily obtained. In this work the stability of time-dependent deterministic and stochastic dynamical operators is examined in order to obtain a better understanding of the asymptotic stability of time-dependent systems and the nature of the first Lyapunov vector. Among the results are a mechanistic physical understanding of the time-dependent instability process, necessary conditions on the time dependence of an operator in order for destabilization to occur, understanding of why the Rayleigh theorem does not constrain the stability of time-dependent flows, the dependence of the first Lyapunov exponent on quantities characterizing the dynamical system, and identification of dynamical processes determining the time-dependent structure of the first Lyapunov vector.

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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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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Turbulent fluids are frequently observed to spontaneously self-organize into large spatial-scale jets; geophysical examples of this phenomenon include the Jovian banded winds and the earth’s polar-front jet. These relatively steady large-scale jets arise from and are maintained by the smaller spatial- and temporal-scale turbulence with which they coexist. Frequently these jets are found to be adjusted into marginally stable states that support large transient growth. In this work, a comprehensive theory for the interaction of jets with turbulence, stochastic structural stability theory (SSST), is applied to the two-layer baroclinic model with the object of elucidating the physical mechanism producing and maintaining baroclinic jets, understanding how jet amplitude, structure, and spacing is controlled, understanding the role of parameters such as the temperature gradient and static stability in determining jet structure, understanding the phenomenon of abrupt reorganization of jet structure as a function of parameter change, and understanding the general mechanism by which turbulent jets adjust to marginally stable states supporting large transient growth.

When the mean thermal forcing is weak so that the mean jet is stable in the absence of turbulence, jets emerge as an instability of the coupled system consisting of the mean jet dynamics and the ensemble mean eddy dynamics. Destabilization of this SSST coupled system occurs as a critical turbulence level is exceeded. At supercritical turbulence levels the unstable jet grows, at first exponentially, but eventually equilibrates nonlinearly into stable states of mutual adjustment between the mean flow and turbulence. The jet structure, amplitude, and spacing can be inferred from these equilibria.

With weak mean thermal forcing and weak but supercritical turbulence levels, the equilibrium jet structure is nearly barotropic. Under strong mean thermal forcing, so that the mean jet is unstable in the absence of turbulence, marginally stable highly nonnormal equilibria emerge that support high transient growth and produce power-law relations between, for example, heat flux and temperature gradient. The origin of this power-law behavior can be traced to the nonnormality of the adjusted states.

As the stochastic excitation, mean baroclinic forcing, or the static stability are changed, meridionally confined jets that are in equilibrium at a given meridional wavenumber abruptly reorganize to another meridional wavenumber at critical values of these parameters.

The equilibrium jets obtained with this theory are in remarkable agreement with equilibrium jets obtained in simulations of baroclinic turbulence, and the phenomenon of discontinuous reorganization of confined jets has important implications for storm-track reorganization and abrupt climate change.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Synoptic-scale eddy variance and fluxes of heat and momentum in midlatitude jets are sensitive to small changes in mean jet velocity, dissipation, and static stability. In this work the change in the jet producing the greatest increase in variance or flux is determined. Remarkably, a single jet structure change completely characterizes the sensitivity of a chosen quadratic statistical quantity to modification of the mean jet in the sense that an arbitrary change in the jet influences a chosen statistical quantity in proportion to the projection of the change on this single optimal structure. The method used extends previous work in which storm track statistics were obtained using a stochastic model of jet turbulence.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Turbulent flows are often observed to be organized into large-spatial-scale jets such as the familiar zonal jets in the upper levels of the Jovian atmosphere. These relatively steady large-scale jets are not forced coherently but are maintained by the much smaller spatial- and temporal-scale turbulence with which they coexist. The turbulence maintaining the jets may arise from exogenous sources such as small-scale convection or from endogenous sources such as eddy generation associated with baroclinic development processes within the jet itself. Recently a comprehensive theory for the interaction of jets with turbulence has been developed called stochastic structural stability theory (SSST). In this work SSST is used to study the formation of multiple jets in barotropic turbulence in order to understand the physical mechanism producing and maintaining these jets and, specifically, to predict the jet amplitude, structure, and spacing. These jets are shown to be maintained by the continuous spectrum of shear waves and to be organized into stable attracting states in the mutually adjusted mean flow and turbulence fields. The jet structure, amplitude, and spacing and the turbulence level required for emergence of jets can be inferred from these equilibria. For weak but supercritical turbulence levels the jet scale is determined by the most unstable mode of the SSST system and the amplitude of the jets at equilibrium is determined by the balance between eddy forcing and mean flow dissipation. At stronger turbulence levels the jet amplitude saturates with jet spacing and amplitude satisfying the Rayleigh–Kuo stability condition that implies the Rhines scale. Equilibrium jets obtained with the SSST system are in remarkable agreement with equilibrium jets obtained in simulations of fully developed β-plane turbulence.

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Nikolaos A. Bakas
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

In this paper, the emission of internal gravity waves from a local westerly shear layer is studied. Thermal and/or vorticity forcing of the shear layer with a wide range of frequencies and scales can lead to strong emission of gravity waves in the region exterior to the shear layer. The shear flow not only passively filters and refracts the emitted wave spectrum, but also actively participates in the gravity wave emission in conjunction with the distributed forcing. This interaction leads to enhanced radiated momentum fluxes but more importantly to enhanced gravity wave energy fluxes. This enhanced emission power can be traced to the nonnormal growth of the perturbations in the shear region, that is, to the transfer of the kinetic energy of the mean shear flow to the emitted gravity waves. The emitted wave energy flux increases with shear and can become as large as 30 times greater than the corresponding flux emitted in the absence of a localized shear region.

Waves that have horizontal wavelengths larger than the depth of the shear layer radiate easterly momentum away, whereas the shorter waves are trapped in the shear region and deposit their momentum at their critical levels. The observed spectrum, as well as the physical mechanisms influencing the spectrum such as wave interference and Doppler shifting effects, is discussed. While for large Richardson numbers there is equipartition of momentum among a wide range of frequencies, most of the energy is found to be carried by waves having vertical wavelengths in a narrow band around the value of twice the depth of the region. It is shown that the waves that are emitted from the shear region have vertical wavelengths of the size of the shear region.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Minimizing forecast error requires accurately specifying the initial state from which the forecast is made by optimally using available observing resources to obtain the most accurate possible analysis. The Kalman filter accomplishes this for a wide class of linear systems, and experience shows that the extended Kalman filter also performs well in nonlinear systems. Unfortunately, the Kalman filter and the extended Kalman filter require computation of the time-dependent error covariance matrix, which presents a daunting computational burden. However, the dynamically relevant dimension of the forecast error system is generally far smaller than the full state dimension of the forecast model, which suggests the use of reduced-order error models to obtain near-optimal state estimators. A method is described and illustrated for implementing a Kalman filter on a reduced-order approximation of the forecast error system. This reduced-order system is obtained by balanced truncation of the Hankel operator representation of the full error system and is used to construct a reduced-order Kalman filter for the purpose of state identification in a time-dependent quasigeostrophic storm track model. The accuracy of the state identification by the reduced-order Kalman filter is assessed by comparison to the true state, to the state estimate obtained by the full Kalman filter, and to the state estimate obtained by direct insertion.

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Brian F. Farrell
and
Petros J. Ioannou

Abstract

Turbulence in fluids is commonly observed to coexist with relatively large spatial and temporal scale coherent jets. These jets may be steady, vacillate with a definite period, or be irregular. A comprehensive theory for this phenomenon is presented based on the mutual interaction between the coherent jet and the turbulent eddies. When a sufficient number of statistically independent realizations of the eddy field participate in organizing the jet a simplified asymptotic dynamics emerges with progression, as an order parameter such as the eddy forcing is increased, from a stable fixed point associated with a steady symmetric zonal jet through a pitchfork bifurcation to a stable asymmetric jet followed by a Hopf bifurcation to a stable limit cycle associated with a regularly vacillating jet and finally a transition to chaos. This underlying asymptotic dynamics emerges when a sufficient number of ensemble members is retained in the stochastic forcing of the jet but a qualitative different mean jet dynamics is found when a small number of ensemble members is retained as is appropriate for many physical systems. Example applications of this theory are presented including a model of midlatitude jet vacillation, emergence and maintenance of multiple jets in turbulent flow, a model of rapid reorganization of storm tracks as a threshold in radiative forcing is passed, and a model of the quasi-biennial oscillation. Because the statistically coupled wave–mean flow system discussed is generally globally stable this system also forms the basis for a comprehensive theory for equilibration of unstable jets in turbulent shear flow.

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