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The shape of the main thermocline, revisited

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Using the Monte Carlo method of statistical physics, we compute the equilibrium statistical mechanics of the shallow water equations, considered as a reduced-gravity model of the ocean's upper layer in a square ocean that spans the equator. The ensemble-averaged flow comprises a westward drift at low latitudes, associated with the poleward deepening of the main thermocline, and a more intense compensating eastward flow near the latitudes at which the layer depth vanishes. Inviscid numerical simulations with a model that exactly conserves mass, energy, and potential enstrophy support the theoretical prediction.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-05-01

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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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