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On Nonlinear Symmetric Stability and the Nonlinear Saturation of Symmetric Instability

Mu MuLASG, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Theodore G. ShepherdDepartment of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Kyle SwansonDepartment of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

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Abstract

A nonlinear symmetric stability theorem is derived in the context of the f-plane Boussinesq equations, recovering an earlier result of Xu within a more general framework. The theorem applies to symmetric disturbances to a baroclinic basic flow, the disturbances having arbitrary structure and magnitude. The criteria for nonlinear stability are virtually identical to those for linear stability. As in Xu, the nonlinear stability theorem can be used to obtain rigorous upper bounds on the saturation amplitude of symmetric instabilities. In a simple example, the bounds are found to compare favorably with heuristic parcel-based estimates in both the hydrostatic and non-hydrostatic limits.

Abstract

A nonlinear symmetric stability theorem is derived in the context of the f-plane Boussinesq equations, recovering an earlier result of Xu within a more general framework. The theorem applies to symmetric disturbances to a baroclinic basic flow, the disturbances having arbitrary structure and magnitude. The criteria for nonlinear stability are virtually identical to those for linear stability. As in Xu, the nonlinear stability theorem can be used to obtain rigorous upper bounds on the saturation amplitude of symmetric instabilities. In a simple example, the bounds are found to compare favorably with heuristic parcel-based estimates in both the hydrostatic and non-hydrostatic limits.

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