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Free Content A bifurcation study of the three-dimensional thermohaline ocean circulation: The double hemispheric case

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Within a low-resolution primitive-equation model of the three-dimensional ocean circulation, a bifurcation analysis is performed of double-hemispheric basin flows. Main focus is on the connection between results for steady two-dimensional flows in a nonrotating basin and those for three-dimensional flows in a rotating basin. With the use of continuation methods, branches of steady states are followed in parameter space and their linear stability is monitored. There is a close qualitative similarity between the bifurcation structure of steady-state solutions of the two- and three dimensional flows. In both cases, symmetry-breaking pitchfork bifurcations are central in generating a multiple equilibria structure. The locations of these pitchfork bifurcations in parameter space can be characterized through a zero of the tendency of a particular energy functional. Although balances controlling the steady-state flows are quantitatively very different, the zonally averaged patterns of the perturbations associated with symmetry-breaking are remarkably similar for two-dimensional and three-dimensional flows, and the energetics of the symmetry-breaking mechanism is in essence the same.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2001

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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