The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

On quadratic bottom drag, geostrophic turbulence, and oceanic mesoscale eddies

On quadratic bottom drag, geostrophic turbulence, and oceanic mesoscale eddies
On quadratic bottom drag, geostrophic turbulence, and oceanic mesoscale eddies
Many investigators have idealized the oceanic mesoscale eddy field with numerical simulations of geostrophic turbulence forced by a horizontally homogeneous, baroclinically unstable mean flow. To date such studies have employed linear bottom Ekman friction (hereinafter, linear drag). This paper presents simulations of two-layer baroclinically unstable geostrophic turbulence damped by quadratic bottom drag, which is generally thought to be more realistic. The goals of the paper are 1) to describe the behavior of quadratically damped turbulence as drag strength changes, using previously reported behaviors of linearly damped turbulence as a point of comparison, and 2) to compare the eddy energies, baroclinicities, and horizontal scales in both quadratic and linear drag simulations with observations and to discuss the constraints these comparisons place on the form and strength of bottom drag in the ocean. In both quadratic and linear drag simulations, large barotropic eddies develop with weak damping, large equivalent barotropic eddies develop with strong damping, and the comparison in goal 2 above is closest when the nondimensional friction strength parameter is of order 1. Typical values of the quadratic drag coefficient (cd 0.0025) and of boundary layer depths (Hb 50 m) imply that the quadratic friction strength parameter cdLd/Hb, where Ld is the deformation radius, may indeed be of order 1 in the ocean. Model eddies are realistic over a wider range of friction strengths when drag is quadratic, because of a reduced sensitivity to friction strength in that case. The quadratic parameter is independent of the mean shear, in contrast to the linear parameter. Plots of eddy length scales, computed from satellite altimeter data, versus mean shear and versus rough estimates of the friction strength parameters suggest that both linear and quadratic bottom drag may be active in the ocean. Topographic wave drag contains terms that are linear in the bottom flow, thus providing some justification for the use of linear bottom drag in models.
0022-3670
84-103
Arbic, Brian K.
297f49fc-6755-42f6-b6b2-6307bcd375a3
Scott, Robert B.
f82756a5-f04c-41f1-a6c8-12574b9814cf
Arbic, Brian K.
297f49fc-6755-42f6-b6b2-6307bcd375a3
Scott, Robert B.
f82756a5-f04c-41f1-a6c8-12574b9814cf

Arbic, Brian K. and Scott, Robert B. (2008) On quadratic bottom drag, geostrophic turbulence, and oceanic mesoscale eddies. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 38 (1), 84-103.

Record type: Article

Abstract

Many investigators have idealized the oceanic mesoscale eddy field with numerical simulations of geostrophic turbulence forced by a horizontally homogeneous, baroclinically unstable mean flow. To date such studies have employed linear bottom Ekman friction (hereinafter, linear drag). This paper presents simulations of two-layer baroclinically unstable geostrophic turbulence damped by quadratic bottom drag, which is generally thought to be more realistic. The goals of the paper are 1) to describe the behavior of quadratically damped turbulence as drag strength changes, using previously reported behaviors of linearly damped turbulence as a point of comparison, and 2) to compare the eddy energies, baroclinicities, and horizontal scales in both quadratic and linear drag simulations with observations and to discuss the constraints these comparisons place on the form and strength of bottom drag in the ocean. In both quadratic and linear drag simulations, large barotropic eddies develop with weak damping, large equivalent barotropic eddies develop with strong damping, and the comparison in goal 2 above is closest when the nondimensional friction strength parameter is of order 1. Typical values of the quadratic drag coefficient (cd 0.0025) and of boundary layer depths (Hb 50 m) imply that the quadratic friction strength parameter cdLd/Hb, where Ld is the deformation radius, may indeed be of order 1 in the ocean. Model eddies are realistic over a wider range of friction strengths when drag is quadratic, because of a reduced sensitivity to friction strength in that case. The quadratic parameter is independent of the mean shear, in contrast to the linear parameter. Plots of eddy length scales, computed from satellite altimeter data, versus mean shear and versus rough estimates of the friction strength parameters suggest that both linear and quadratic bottom drag may be active in the ocean. Topographic wave drag contains terms that are linear in the bottom flow, thus providing some justification for the use of linear bottom drag in models.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: January 2008

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 65644
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/65644
ISSN: 0022-3670
PURE UUID: 649958c1-710e-4a56-84df-624c00a5e265

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 03 Mar 2009
Last modified: 01 Nov 2017 02:53

Export record

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×