University Of Tasmania

File(s) not publicly available

On the stability of large-amplitude geostrophic flows in a 2-layer fluid: the case of 'strong' beta-effect

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 07:39 authored by Benilov, ES
This paper examines the stability of two-layer geostrophic flows with large displacement of the interface and strong /7-effect. Attention is focused on flows with non-monotonic interface profiles which are not covered by the Rayleigh-style stability theorems proved by Benilov (1992a, b) and Benilov&Cushman-Roisin (1994). For such flows the coefficient of the highest derivative in the corresponding boundary-value problem vanishes at the point where the depth profile has an extremum. Although this singularity is similar to a critical level, it cannot be regularized by the simplistic introduction of infinitesimal viscosity through the assumption that the phase speed of the disturbance is complex. In order to regularize the singularity properly, one should consider the problem within the framework of the original ageostrophic viscous equations and, having obtained the boundary-value problem for harmonic disturbance, take the limit Rossby number→0, viscosity →0. The results obtained analytically and (for special cases) numerically indicate that the stability of flows with non-monotonic profiles strongly depends on the depth of the upper layer. If the upper layer is ‘thick’ (i.e. if the average depth H1 of the upper layer is of the order of the total depth of the fluid H0), the stability boundary-value problem does not have any solutions at all, which means stability (however, this stability is structurally unstable, and the flow, generally speaking, can be made weakly unstable by any small effect such as external forcing, viscosity, or ageostrophic corrections). In the case of ‘thin’ upper layer (H/H0 < Ro), the order of the singularity changes and all non-monotonic flows are unstable regardless of their profiles. It is also demonstrated that thin-upper-layer flows do not have to be non-monotonic to be unstable: if U — /3RI (where u is the zonal velocity, β is the β-parameter, and R0is the deformation radius) changes sign somewhere in the flow, the stability boundary-value problem has another singular point which leads to instability. © 1995, Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.


Publication title

Journal of Fluid Mechanics








School of Natural Sciences


Cambridge Univ Press

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the physical sciences

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania