JP6.4 Zonal jets and the wind-driven midlatitude ocean circulation

Thursday, 11 June 2009
Stowe Room (Stoweflake Resort and Confernce Center)
Balasubramanya Nadiga, LANL, Los Alamos, NM; and D. Straub

There is recent computational and observational evidence that point to the existence of alternating zonal jets that are superposed on the larger scale midlatitude ocean circulation. Since nonlinear mechanisms are at play in the dynamics of each of these features--- alternating zonal jets in beta-plane turbulence are associated with a halting of the two-dimensional inverse energy cascade by Rossby wave dispersion, and mesoscale eddies, recirculation gyres, and nonlinear dynamics of the western boundary current shape the gyre circulation---significant interactions are expected. We undertake a computational study of the interaction of the jets with the gyre circulation in the quasi-geostrophic approximation and use diagnostics of the interaction across scales of energy. We find parameter regimes where alternating zonal jets can arise from purely steady and large-scale forcing and rather weak interactions between the jets and gyres when they are separately forced
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