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Instability of the Gulf Stream Front in the South Atlantic Bight

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  • 1 Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
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Abstract

To understand Gulf Stream meanders in the South Atlantic Bight, the growth of three-dimensional perturbations along two-dimensional frontal zones is examined by using linearized primitive equations. The Fourier–Galerkin method and the orthogonal collocation method are combined to formulate the spectral model. Emphasis is placed on the effects of cross-frontal topographic slope on the stability of the front, and on the characteristics of the most unstable modes. Attention is directed to the cross sections upstream and downstream of the Charleston Bump, which is a topographic feature near 31°N. The major results obtained from this linear study are that 1) the growth rate of the most unstable mode decreases and the associated phase speed increases after incorporating cross-front topographic gradients; 2) the most unstable solution found in the region downstream of the Charleston Bump has a slightly longer wavelength and slower phase speed than those found in the region upstream of the Bump.

Abstract

To understand Gulf Stream meanders in the South Atlantic Bight, the growth of three-dimensional perturbations along two-dimensional frontal zones is examined by using linearized primitive equations. The Fourier–Galerkin method and the orthogonal collocation method are combined to formulate the spectral model. Emphasis is placed on the effects of cross-frontal topographic slope on the stability of the front, and on the characteristics of the most unstable modes. Attention is directed to the cross sections upstream and downstream of the Charleston Bump, which is a topographic feature near 31°N. The major results obtained from this linear study are that 1) the growth rate of the most unstable mode decreases and the associated phase speed increases after incorporating cross-front topographic gradients; 2) the most unstable solution found in the region downstream of the Charleston Bump has a slightly longer wavelength and slower phase speed than those found in the region upstream of the Bump.

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