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The axial coherence of Kelvin-Helmholtz billows

The axial coherence of Kelvin-Helmholtz billows
The axial coherence of Kelvin-Helmholtz billows
Factors affecting the along-axis coherence length of Kelvin-Helmholtz billows are reviewed. Little is known of the processes which determine or limit this length. Laboratory experiments show that, as they develop, billows may be irregularly spaced, resulting in pairing along their length, or, more commonly, grow at different rates in patches which subsequently amalgamate. Both processes result in features described as 'knots', where neighbouring billows join. The tangling of billow vortices in the knots leads to local turbulence and mixing, often before turbulence develops at a smaller scale within the billows themselves. The axial coherence length of billows is limited to the along-axis distance between these knots. Such features in the atmosphere and the ocean have received little attention in spite of their possible bearing on clear-air turbulence and to heat and momentum transport. Observations of atmospheric billows suggest an axial coherence length which is of the same order as that found in the laboratory, about four billow wavelengths.
0035-9009
1529-1542
Thorpe, S.A.
8a8f3888-cf5e-4b0f-b1e7-4882989212ab
Thorpe, S.A.
8a8f3888-cf5e-4b0f-b1e7-4882989212ab

Thorpe, S.A. (2002) The axial coherence of Kelvin-Helmholtz billows. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 128 (583), 1529-1542. (doi:10.1256/00359000260247345).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Factors affecting the along-axis coherence length of Kelvin-Helmholtz billows are reviewed. Little is known of the processes which determine or limit this length. Laboratory experiments show that, as they develop, billows may be irregularly spaced, resulting in pairing along their length, or, more commonly, grow at different rates in patches which subsequently amalgamate. Both processes result in features described as 'knots', where neighbouring billows join. The tangling of billow vortices in the knots leads to local turbulence and mixing, often before turbulence develops at a smaller scale within the billows themselves. The axial coherence length of billows is limited to the along-axis distance between these knots. Such features in the atmosphere and the ocean have received little attention in spite of their possible bearing on clear-air turbulence and to heat and momentum transport. Observations of atmospheric billows suggest an axial coherence length which is of the same order as that found in the laboratory, about four billow wavelengths.

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Published date: 2002

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 1265
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/1265
ISSN: 0035-9009
PURE UUID: 6b6344c5-ef2d-497f-8d98-1be3a4252cca

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Date deposited: 15 Apr 2004
Last modified: 09 Nov 2021 06:04

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Author: S.A. Thorpe

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