Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Free Content Rossby wormholes

Download Article:
(PDF 1,787.7 kb)
The influence of bottom topography on the westward propagation of long, baroclinic Rossby waves is studied analytically in a two-layer ocean model. In the limit of a thin upper layer, scaling analysis suggests that the waves should be relatively insensitive to variable bottom topography; however, this insensitivity can break down in regions of closed f/H contours, where f is the Coriolis parameter and H the ocean depth. An integral constraint is derived in the planetary-geostrophic limit, showing that the net radiative flux of upper layer thickness anomalies into a closed f/H contour, at its eastern margin, is balanced by an equivalent radiation of upper layer thickness anomalies out of the closed f/H contour, at its western margin. The consequence of this, and a related integral constraint for the upper layer thickness tendency, is that westward-propagating upper layer thickness anomalies can partially disappear on one side of a closed f/H contour and, near instantaneously, reappear on the other — a "Rossby wormhole." In practice, this partial jumping of westward propagating upper layer thickness anomalies across an f/H contour is accomplished by conversions between the baroclinic and barotropic wave modes, and the generation of transient barotropic recirculations around the f/H contour. The Rossby wormhole mechanism is illustrated in a series of numerical calculations with a two-layer primitive equation model. A corollary is that the reduced-gravity model of the large-scale ocean circulation can break down in the presence of closed f/H contours, even when the conventional scaling requirements for its validity appear to be satisfied.

45 References.

No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, 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. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Purchase The Sea
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more