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Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

Rigorous upper bounds are derived that limit the finite-amplitude growth of arbitrary nonzonal disturbances to an unstable baroclinic zonal flow in a continuously stratified, quasi-geostrophic, semi-infinite fluid. Bounds are obtained bath on the depth-integrated eddy potential enstrophy and on the eddy available potential energy (APE) at the ground. The method used to derive the bounds is essentially analogous to that used in Part I of this study for the two-layer model: it relies on the existence of a nonlinear Liapunov (normed) stability theorem, which is a finite-amplitude generalization of the Charney-Stern theorem. As in Part I, the bounds are valid both for conservative (unforced, inviscid) flow, as well as for forced-dissipative flow when the dissipation is proportional to the potential vorticity in the interior, and to the potential temperature at the ground.

The character of the results depends on the dimensionless external parameter γ = f 0 2ξ/β0 N 2 H, where ξ is the maximum vertical shear of the zonal wind, H is the density scale height, and the other symbols have their usual meaning. When γ ≫ 1, corresponding to “deep” unstable modes (vertical scale ≈H), the bound on the eddy potential enstrophy is just the total potential enstrophy in the system; but when γ≪1, corresponding to ‘shallow’ unstable modes (vertical scale ≈γH), the eddy potential enstrophy can be bounded well below the total amount available in the system. In neither case can the bound on the eddy APE prevent a complete neutralization of the surface temperature gradient which is in accord with numerical experience.

For the special case of the Charney model of baroclinic instability, and in the limit of infinitesimal initial eddy disturbance amplitude, the bound states that the dimensionless eddy potential enstrophy cannot exceed (γ + 1)2/24&gamma2 h when γ ≥ 1, or 1/6;&gammah when γ ≤ 1; here h = HN/f 0 L is the dimensionless scale height and L is the width of the channel. These bounds are very similar to (though of course generally larger than) ad hoc estimates based on baroclinic-adjustment arguments.

The possibility of using these kinds of bounds for eddy-amplitude closure in a transient-eddy parameterization scheme is also discussed.

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Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

A rigorous bound is derived which limits the finite-amplitude growth of arbitrary nonzonal disturbances to an unstable baroclinic zonal flow within the context of the two-layer model. The bound is valid for conservative (unforced) flow, as well as for forced-dissipative flow that when the dissipation is proportional to the potential vorticity. The method used to derive the bound relies on the existence of a nonlinear Liapunov (normed) stability theorem for subcritical flows, which is a finite-amplitude generalization of the Charney-Stern theorem.

For the special case of the Philips model of baroclinic instability, and in the limit of infinitesimal initial nonzonal disturbance amplitude, an improved form of the bound is possible which states that the potential enstrophy of the nonzonal flow cannot exceed εβ2, where ε = (UU crit)/U crit is the (relative) supereriticality. This upper bound turns out to be extremely similar to the maximum predicted by the weakly nonlinear theory. For unforced flow with ε < 1, the bound demonstrates that the nonzonal flow cannot contain all of the potential enstrophy in the system; hence in this range of initial supercriticality the total flow must remain, in a certain sense, “close” to a zonal state.

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Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

The question of linear sheared-disturbance evolution in constant-shear parallel flow is here reexamined with regard to the temporary-amplification phenomenon noted first by Orr in 1907. The results apply directly to Rossby waves on a beta-plane, and are also relevant to the Eady model of baroclinic instability. It is shown that an isotropic initial distribution of standing waves maintains a constant energy level throughout the shearing process, the amplification of some waves being precisely balanced by the decay of the others. An expression is obtained for the energy of a distribution of disturbances whose wavevectors lie within a given angular wedge and an upper bound derived. It is concluded that the case for ubiquitous amplification made in recent studies may have been somewhat overstated: while carefully-chosen individual Fourier components can amplify considerably before they decay. a general distribution will tend to exhibit little or no amplification.

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Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

Rigorous upper bounds are derived on the saturation amplitude of baroclinic instability in the two-layer model. The bounds apply to the eddy energy and are obtained by appealing to a finite amplitude conservation law for the disturbance pseudoenergy. These bounds are to be distinguished from those derived in Part I of this study, which employed a pseudomomentum conservation law and provided bounds on the eddy potential enstrophy. The bounds apply to conservative (inviscid, unforced) flow, as well as to forced-dissipative flow when the dissipation is proportional to the potential vorticity.

Bounds on the eddy energy are worked out for a general class of unstable westerly jets. In the special case of the Phillips model of baroclinic instability, and in the limit of infinitesimal initial eddy amplitude, the bound states that the eddy energy cannot exceed εβ2/6F where ε = (UU crit)/U crit is the relative supercriticality. This bound captures the essential dynamical scalings (i.e., the dependence on ε, β, and F) of the saturation amplitudes predicted by weakly nonlinear theory, as well as exhibiting remarkable quantitative agreement with those predictions, and is also consistent with heuristic baroclinic adjustment estimates.

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Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

Nonlinear spectral transfers of kinetic energy and enstrophy, and stationary-transient interaction, are studied using global FGGE data for January 1979. It is found that the spectral transfers arise primarily from a combination, in roughly equal measure, of pure transient and mixed stationary-transient interactions. The pure transient interactions are associated with a transient eddy field which is approximately locally homogeneous and isotropic, and they appear to be consistently understood within the context of two-dimensional homogeneous turbulence. Theory based on spatial wale separation concepts suggests that the mixed interactions may be understood physically, to a first approximation, as a process of shear-induced spectral transfer of transient enstrophy along lines of constant zonal wavenumber. This essentially conservative enstrophy transfer generally involves highly nonlocal stationary-transient energy conversions.

The observational analysis demonstrates that the shear-induced transient enstrophy transfer is mainly associated with intermediate-scale (zonal wavenumber m > 3) transients and is primarily to smaller (meridional) scales, so that the transient flow acts as a source of stationary energy. In quantitative terms, this transient-eddy rectification corresponds to a forcing timescale in the stationary energy budget which is of the same order of magnitude as most estimates of the damping timescale in simple stationary-wave models (5 to 15 days). Moreover, the nonlinear interactions involved are highly nonlocal and cover a wide range of transient scales of motion.

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Keith Ngan and Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

The relevance of chaotic advection to stratospheric mixing and transport is addressed in the context of (i) a numerical model of forced shallow-water flow on the sphere, and (ii) a middle-atmosphere general circulation model. It is argued that chaotic advection applies to both these models if there is suitable large-scale spatial structure in the velocity field and if the velocity field is temporally quasi-regular. This spatial structure is manifested in the form of “cat’s eyes” in the surf zone, such as are commonly seen in numerical simulations of Rossby wave critical layers; by analogy with the heteroclinic structure of a temporally aperiodic chaotic system the cat’s eyes may be thought of as an “organizing structure” for mixing and transport in the surf zone. When this organizing structure exists, Eulerian and Lagrangian autocorrelations of the velocity derivatives indicate that velocity derivatives decorrelate more rapidly along particle trajectories than at fixed spatial locations (i.e., the velocity field is temporally quasi-regular). This phenomenon is referred to as Lagrangian random strain.

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Keith Ngan and Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

Statistical diagnostics of mixing and transport are computed for a numerical model of forced shallow-water flow on the sphere and a middle-atmosphere general circulation model. In particular, particle dispersion statistics, transport fluxes, Liapunov exponents (probability density functions and ensemble averages), and tracer concentration statistics are considered. It is shown that the behavior of the diagnostics is in accord with that of kinematic chaotic advection models so long as stochasticity is sufficiently weak. Comparisons with random-strain theory are made.

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Diane Pendlebury and Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

In the stratosphere, chemical tracers are drawn systematically from the equator to the pole. This observed Brewer–Dobson circulation is driven by wave drag, which in the stratosphere arises mainly from the breaking and dissipation of planetary-scale Rossby waves. While the overall sense of the circulation follows from fundamental physical principles, a quantitative theoretical understanding of the connection between wave drag and Lagrangian transport is limited to linear, small-amplitude waves. However, planetary waves in the stratosphere generally grow to a large amplitude and break in a strongly nonlinear fashion. This paper addresses the connection between stratospheric wave drag and Lagrangian transport in the presence of strong nonlinearity, using a mechanistic three-dimensional primitive equations model together with offline particle advection. Attention is deliberately focused on a weak forcing regime, such that sudden warmings do not occur and a quasi-steady state is reached, in order to examine this question in the cleanest possible context.

Wave drag is directly linked to the transformed Eulerian mean (TEM) circulation, which is often used as a surrogate for mean Lagrangian motion. The results show that the correspondence between the TEM and mean Lagrangian velocities is quantitatively excellent in regions of linear, nonbreaking waves (i.e., outside the surf zone), where streamlines are not closed. Within the surf zone, where streamlines are closed and meridional particle displacements are large, the agreement between the vertical components of the two velocity fields is still remarkably good, especially wherever particle paths are coherent so that diabatic dispersion is minimized. However, in this region the meridional mean Lagrangian velocity bears little relation to the meridional TEM velocity, and reflects more the kinematics of mixing within and across the edges of the surf zone. The results from the mechanistic model are compared with those from the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model to test the robustness of the conclusions.

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Sorin Codoban and Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

A theory of available potential energy (APE) for symmetric circulations, which includes momentum constraints, is presented. The theory is a generalization of the classical theory of APE, which includes only thermal constraints on the circulation. Physically, centrifugal potential energy is included along with gravitational potential energy. The generalization relies on the Hamiltonian structure of the conservative dynamics, although (as with classical APE) it still defines the energetics in a nonconservative framework. It follows that the theory is exact at finite amplitude, has a local form, and can be applied to a variety of fluid models. It is applied here to the f-plane Boussinesq equations. It is shown that, by including momentum constraints, the APE of a symmetrically stable flow is zero, while the energetics of a mechanically driven symmetric circulation properly reflect its causality.

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Mu Mu and Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

A nonlinear stability theorem is established for Eady's model of baroclinic flow. In particular, the Eady basic state is shown to be nonlinearly stable (for arbitrary shear) provided
(Δz)(Δy)1/2f(πN)
,where Δz is the height of the domain, Δy the channel width, f the Coriolis parameter, and N the buoyancy frequency. When this criterion is satisfied, explicit bounds can be derived on the disturbance potential enstrophy, the disturbance energy, and the disturbance available potential energy on the rigid lids, which are expressed in terms of the initial disturbance fields. The disturbances are completely general (with nonzero potential vorticity) and are not assumed to be of small amplitude. The results may be regarded as an extension of Arnol'd's second nonlinear stability theorem to continuously stratified quasigeostrophic baroclinic flow.
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