Modons in Shear Flow

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Modons in shear flow are computed as equilibrium solutions of the equivalent barotropic vorticity equation using a numerical Newton–Kantorovich iterative technique with double Fourier spectral expansion. The model is given a first guess of an exact prototype modon with a small shear flow imposed, then iterated to an equilibrium solution. Continuation (small-step extrapolation of the shear amplitude) is used to produce examples of modons embedded in moderate amplitude background shear flows. It is found that in the presence of symmetric shear, the modon is strengthened relative to the prototype. The best-fit phase speed for this case is significantly greater than the Doppler-shifted speed. Nonsymmetric shear strengthens the poles selectively: positive shear strengthens the low while weakening the high. The diagnosed functional relationship between the streamfunction in the traveling reference frame and the vorticity appears linear for all types of shear studied. The modons in symmetric shear are stable within time integrations, at least for small to moderate shear amplitude. Antisymmetric shear appears to trigger a tilting instability of the stationary state; yet coherence of the modon is maintained. This study strengthens the plausibility of using modons as a model of coherent structures in geophysical flow.

Abstract

Modons in shear flow are computed as equilibrium solutions of the equivalent barotropic vorticity equation using a numerical Newton–Kantorovich iterative technique with double Fourier spectral expansion. The model is given a first guess of an exact prototype modon with a small shear flow imposed, then iterated to an equilibrium solution. Continuation (small-step extrapolation of the shear amplitude) is used to produce examples of modons embedded in moderate amplitude background shear flows. It is found that in the presence of symmetric shear, the modon is strengthened relative to the prototype. The best-fit phase speed for this case is significantly greater than the Doppler-shifted speed. Nonsymmetric shear strengthens the poles selectively: positive shear strengthens the low while weakening the high. The diagnosed functional relationship between the streamfunction in the traveling reference frame and the vorticity appears linear for all types of shear studied. The modons in symmetric shear are stable within time integrations, at least for small to moderate shear amplitude. Antisymmetric shear appears to trigger a tilting instability of the stationary state; yet coherence of the modon is maintained. This study strengthens the plausibility of using modons as a model of coherent structures in geophysical flow.

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